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Emma Tynan

SFU Student Undergraduate
Communication, Art + Technology › Contemporary Arts › Visual Art | Communication, Art + Technology › Interactive Arts + Technology › Design

Experience Faculty
I went on exchange to the University of Leeds in England for the Fall 2022 semester. While at the University of Leeds, I was part of the Fine Art History of Art and Cultural Studies Department.
Experience Details
Introduction + Preparation
Location Research

While preparing for exchange, I found the Study Abroad Office at SFU extremely helpful and knowledgeable, as well as the Study Abroad office at Leeds. When looking into the courses I wanted to take, I found that the past course offerings for the previous semester really helped me see what was on offer. In addition, my contact within my department at the University of Leeds was beneficial with course selections and helped me with any questions I had about courses.

Financial Preparation

In terms of finance, I signed up for a Revolut Card after arriving in England, as it allowed me to store money, I transferred over from Canada like a bank card. In addition to the Revolut card, I also brought some cash and looked into credit cards that didn’t charge extra fees on top of the exchange rate that I could potentially get from a Canadian bank.


When packing, I found it cheaper to bring my bedding from home since I was only going for a semester, so I brought an extra suitcase and vacuum-sealed my bedding. Other important things I needed while there, particularly in November, were thick socks and heavy cardigans as the accommodation can get very cold.

Travel and Transportation

For travel and transport, everything in England is super accessible, and you can get a train anywhere you need to go. In the city, everything is within walking distance from most of the accommodations, so you honestly do not need to worry too much about transport.

Preparation Tips for Future Students

So, with this, all said, I would say pack with the weather in mind and when you are thinking finance make sure to budget for trains, food, and accommodation prices because if one thing did cause me trouble, it was how much money I ended up spending on accommodation.

During my Experience
Accommodation and Living

After I arrived in Leeds, I moved into the accommodation that had been allocated to me by the University after I had been accepted. To get university accommodation, you apply through a separate portal after you have gained acceptance. In all honesty, the University of Leeds accommodation office is pretty useless, so if you have any problems, I recommend contacting SFU in the study abroad office and getting them to try and help you. I was in a threeperson pod for my accommodation, and my roommates were first years which tends to be the case for anyone doing exchange as most of the university housing is allocated to first years. They were great, and we had an excellent system for purchasing food and cooking. It was an equal relationship. This and the fact that we all respected and liked each other helped with living together and getting along well. Another critical aspect of the accommodation is that laundry is all in the main building of your housing and is shared. You will need to download an app to use the laundry, which is super annoying. On top of that, the app for the laundry does not always work, but because a third party facilitates it, the people at the accommodation cannot do anything about it.

Learning and Adaptation

The overall academic layout at Leeds is very different from SFU, as courses are modules and tutorials are seminars. However, that is not the only way they differ; lectures tend to max out at about two hours there are very few that are 3hrs. In addition to this, they have very little in terms of assignments during the actual school year. Basically, all my courses only had assignments, one due in the middle of the semester and the last one due in January. Instead of a final exam, one of my courses had only one assignment worth one hundred percent of my grade. Also, the grading dramatically differs from the Canadian system a failing grade in England is forty percent, and then they also don’t do A, B, and C systems; they do First, 2:1, 2:2 as their grades. Something else that is different about Britain and Canada in terms of schooling is that if you have more than your max credit limit in terms of module credits, they can force you to drop one without your permission. However, despite these differences in academics, I still had a fantastic time and learned much from all my classes and roommates.

Cultural and Environmental Observations

In terms of what Leeds is like, it is a very eventful city, especially at night. It is also very wet and rainy; it honestly reminded me a lot of Vancouver.

Social and Extracurricular Activities

There are many clubs you can join that the University facilitates; the only downside is that most of them require you to pay a fee to be part of them. But many study abroad international student events are free, and I would definitely recommend them as they are entertaining to attend and meet new people from all over the world. I would also recommend getting a student rail pass so that you can get a discount on train tickets as most places in the UK and Europe can be accessed by rail, so it's super handy to have. I used a rail pass while I was in Leeds and travelled all over the UK, visiting different historical sites and cities. Because Leeds is in Yorkshire and relatively central compared to the rest of England, it makes it a great home point if you want to take day trips, as most places can be reached in four hours. Some of my favourite places where York, Bath, London and Edinburgh.

Reflection & Tips

After returning from an exchange, I think I have grown as a person and become a lot more independent. But also, I made many new friends and learned a lot about other cultures from people worldwide.

Connection to Academic Studies or Career Goals

Something I wish I had known before I left would be how different the academics are in Britain versus Canada.

Advice for Future Students

So, in terms of advice, I would say be open to new experiences and new people because you might surprise yourself and make some fantastic friends.


Emma Tynan

SFU Student Undergraduate
Communication, Art + Technology › Contemporary Arts › Visual Art | Communication, Art + Technology › Interactive Arts + Technology › Design
visibility  140
Aug 3, 2023