Medical Sciences with study abroad student at University of Leeds

Alice Compton

Alice studied BSc Medical Science and complete a study abroad year at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Since graduating from the University of Leeds she has become a Trainee Clinical Physiologist for Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Why did you want to do a Study year abroad?

I thought it gave me the perfect opportunity to travel and widen my cultural awareness. I wanted to revisit New Zealand and experience living away from home from a year to develop my independence and strength of character. I also wanted to meet people from all around the world and broaden my horizons.

Can you describe your day to day life whilst on your study year abroad?

On a typical day studying, I would prepare for my day in my flat at the brand-new halls of residence in the city. I would then hop on my bike and cycle through the beautiful Auckland Domain park park to the Medical & Health Sciences campus. After a lecture and a session in the lab, I would meet some kiwi friends for lunch and a catch up. I’d then cycle down to the main city campus for a bit of study and another lecture or two. Home for dinner with my flatmates.

I’d spend the evening having drinks with some of the other international students, attending events held at my halls (such as baking fairs, informal choir rehearsals and talent shows) or I’d walk up the nearest extinct volcano, Mt Eden, to watch the sunset behind views of the beautiful city.

How did the support of the university help you during your year abroad?

I received lots of emails from Auckland University’s Study Abroad Office with invitations to social events and suggestions for other activities and events. They regularly held coffee mornings and quiz nights to help exchange students to get to know each other. They also emailed us around exam time to make sure we knew all the procedures – especially important as we were all used to the ways our home universities ran the exams.

What was the real highlight of your study year abroad?

The highlight of my year abroad was jumping out of a plane 16,500 feet above the ground and watching as the mountains, sea, sandy beaches and fields raced towards me! I was free-falling for 75 seconds before the parachute opened, leaving me to peacefully float to the ground.

Another highlight included camping on a beach with 25 friends for New Years Eve. We were on a secluded peninsula only accessible by boat and therefore had the whole thing to ourselves, including two gorgeous beaches! We had a BBQ, danced and set-off fireworks to see the new year in right from the beach.

One more highlight was completing the ‘Tongariro Crossing’ – the greatest day walk in New Zealand. 19 km of challenging terrain, traversing smoking volcanoes and skirting around huge craters. We also climbed ‘Mt Doom’ from the Lord of the Rings trilogy and saw 3 incredible blue sulphuric lakes all in one day.

What advice would you offer to students considering undertaking a study year abroad?

Go for it! It will change your outlook on life and give you experiences you are unlikely to get in any way. Take every opportunity to meet new people and try new things. Travel lots but don’t forget to study enough to pass your exams! Pick easier modules than you’d be doing in Leeds to give yourself more time to enjoy the social side of studying abroad. Prepare before you go and consider getting a return plane ticket rather than two singles as it may work out cheaper.