The day that I arrived in Leeds, I was surprised by the city which would be my home for the coming 5 months. You never truly know what to expect if you haven’t been there before, so you are taking a bit of a risk. I chose to go to Leeds on exchange and would be studying at Leeds Beckett University. Before I arrived, I didn’t know that there were two university campuses, one in the city centre and one a bit outside the city - City campus and Headingley campus. They are both unique and impressive. Headingley campus used to be an old hospital and was turned into a university several years ago. It has all the sport facilities you can imagine e.g. a running track, tennis courts, hockey, football, rugby and lacrosse, a gym, swimming pool, etc.
The accommodation was assigned by the school, and I was placed with the other Dutch girl I came with in Kirkstall Brewery. This accommodation is further from the centre but close to the Headingley campus. This was lucky, as I discovered quickly that all my classes were at Headingley campus, so it was one of the most ideal places to live. It even had a free shuttle bus in the morning and afternoon, which brought you straight to Headingley campus. The accommodation was a fun experience, it looked a bit like the campus at the Hotel Management School Maastricht but we had our room plus 2 showers, 2 toilets and a kitchen shared with 5 others. Our accommodation even had a common area, which was a study room with a bar and where you could order food and drinks. So, even if you didn’t feel like going to the supermarket, you could get a burger or a pizza at home.
During the first week there was an introduction for all the international students, which gave you plenty of opportunity to make international friends. The activities in the introduction week made us familiar with the school and the city, and most importantly they explained to us where to go if we needed help. One of the best activities during this week was a lecture by the company ‘Don’t Be a Tourist’, which is a travel agent for students. They offer really cheap trips within the UK. These were trips I wouldn’t organise myself, because I wouldn’t have a clue where to go! My new friends and I went on several trips and discovered the different aspects, history and stories the UK has to offer. When you are there you want to make the most of your stay and you want to see as much of the country as possible. We visited Liverpool, the Peak District, York, Whitby and Edinburgh. Of course, we had to see the nearby cities Manchester and Sheffield, and we planned these trips on our own. And of course, we needed to figure out the train system in the UK first, which is a bit different than the OV chipkaart, but it was a good experience and lots of fun in the end.
During the 5 months I studied at Leeds Beckett University, I was surprised by all the help they offered us, the resources available and the facilities we could use. We could borrow almost all the technology equipment for free, and teachers are always willing to help you whenever they can. The library was one of the most valuable facilities during my exchange, it has a big online catalogue with online books, journals and databases. You could borrow your books or open them online, which saved me some money too. I was afraid at the beginning that I couldn’t get used to the language, but it surprised me how fast I got used to speaking English. I truly recommend going on an exchange. You study at another university, which is a valuable experience, you make lots of international friends, you get to know another country and you improve your language skills! It was an amazing experience and I wish I could do again. Leeds Beckett offers lots of outbound exchanges for home students who wish to study in Europe, the USA, Australia, Japan and lots more. Search ‘International Exchange’ on their website to find out more.