- Course: Psychology BSc
- Location of year abroad: Queensland University, Australia
My year abroad was spent at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. This was an incredible experience for me, not only because it afforded me the opportunity to live in another country, as well as providing a close hub for travelling around Asia, but due to the educational opportunities it provided me from a culturally different perspective.
Many of the modules I took had some focus on psychology in relation to the indigenous Australians. Paying homage to their culture always occurred at the beginning of each lecture with a respect paid to the traditional owners of the land on which QUT was built. Within the syllabus, there was a large proportion of research dedicated to topics regarding the hardships of the indigenous people both in the past and continuing into the present day. For example, in a module on mental health in practice, an entire lecture was dedicated to the theory behind practicing as a mental health professional within an Indigenous community, the cultural differences that are important in the way in which a mental health professional should conduct themselves. Not only did this give a new perspective on learning about psychology in practice, but additionally taught me about the culture and history of the indigenous Australians, deepening my knowledge on their culture. Modules at QUT also often focussed on the practical applications of psychology within the real-world, reflected in the assessment. Assessments for example could be problem-solving of a vignette in a real-world context. This gave me practice for group assignments, preparing me for this form of assignment in my final year at Leeds. Additionally, the practical context in which this was set developed my understanding of how research and theory can translate into real-life situations including businesses, governments, therapy and counselling. This also encouraged me to think about the different career routes psychology may take me down. Perhaps one of the most surprising, but interesting modules I undertook was on Traffic Behaviour. It hadn’t previously occurred to me that this would come under the branch of psychology. Though from Cognitive psychology modules in my first two years at Leeds I was aware of driving simulation research and the vision and neurodevelopment that underlies driving, I was unaware that government campaigns surrounding road safety, physical features of the road and police action were all related to psychology as well. Again, this augmented my realisation that psychology is not limited to its empirical research findings, but greatly influences day to day life.
Additionally, my development from my Year Abroad was not solely academic. Experiencing living in Australia, a country known for its laid-back attitude unknowingly helped me to develop a tolerance for small annoyances in life that previously would have bothered me. I kept track of my day-to-day life in Brisbane through a personal diary and a social media blog. Having these to read back over bring back so many memories of living and learning in this country. Additionally, I lived in a large student house of 30, with other international students, although a large number of us were from Leeds University. Though I did not know these people beforehand, I would now consider them some of my closest friends. I feel coming into final year I have expanded my social circle greatly and have been excited to integrate my university and year abroad friends.
Though I lived with a large group, I also feel my independence has grown from this year. Unlike other students I was living with, I was the only psychology student that I knew at my university, this meant dealing with assignments and going to lectures alone, not having other people’s thoughts and opinions to bounce off of. Furthermore, this was the first time I had a job within term time, as I was not funded by my parents so needed to earn my own wage in order to live. This taught me discipline, the importance of work and time management, but also allowed me to meet more people from different cultures as the company I worked for had an extremely diverse workforce. During the Australian summer break (November to March) I utilised the earlier weeks to work extremely hard and earn money so that I could enjoy the benefits of being in that area of the world. I worked long hours during the weeks in November, and was able to afford to go to a festival, and travel to Singapore, Bali, the Philippines and Malaysia in December-March. Again, this taught me the importance of diligence and discipline. The experiences I had in these countries were incredible and among some of my most cherished memories from the year. I wouldn’t have been able to do so without the new independence and sense of adventure the year gave me.
I could not recommend doing a year abroad more to any future students. So many of my friends have done one all over the world, and I think it is incredible how much Leeds supports this experience, much more so than other universities. This was one of the reasons I chose Leeds initially, because of the opportunities they provide students to develop and better themselves through amazing experiences. I have already spoken to students I know who have just started in the 2017-2018 academic year. A friend’s younger sister has been in touch to talk about my experiences in Australia and has since decided she wants to follow what I did and apply to Australian cities for her year abroad, preferably Brisbane. I have also applied to be a student ambassador for Study Abroad in Psychology. I can safely and easily say that doing a study abroad in Brisbane was by far the best life decision I have made so far, and has not only given me the most incredible memories to look back on, but has in fact developed me as a person, by expanding my knowledge, differentiating my critical skills and providing such unique experiences.
I can safely and easily say that doing a study abroad in Brisbane was by far the best life decision I have made so far, and has not only given me the most incredible memories to look back on, but has in fact developed me as a person, by expanding my knowledge, differentiating my critical skills and providing such unique experiences.