Overseas exchange a ‘life-changer’

Published in the July 2016 issue

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Overseas exchange is said to be the best time in a student’s life.


Peter Best tries out paragliding while on exchange

For Southern Cross University IT student Peter Best, the saying rings true.

The 19-year-old Gold Coast student packed up his life and moved to England for a 12-month exchange in mid-2015 for his second year of study, with an extra month’s holiday through Europe at the end.

Peter returned from exchange last month and said moving away from family to go and live in the country where he was born was a life-changing experience.

“It’s great to learn by the book and get taught how to do something, but going on exchange gives you a whole other experience in the real-world aspect of learning,” he said.

“You get to travel on your own, move into your own place and you become a lot more responsible than when you live at home with your parents.

“The best thing was experiencing the university lifestyle which is completely different when you move away – a lot of my friends there were Scottish, Welsh, Spanish who had all moved to live on campus and we had a lot of fun together.

“When I finished my exchange year I went snowboarding in Austria. I have never seen snow like that – it was up to my chest.”

Peter said in England soccer is treated like a religion more than a sport, and he had to be careful not the wear the opposition’s colours.

“If you are walking through Manchester Central wearing red all the Manchester City fans will yell at you – it’s all fun and games but it gets pretty serious.”

While at the University of Hertfordshire,Peter took part in a research team and excelled academically with a plethora of high distinction equivalents.

“We investigated how the use of robotics and artificial intelligence impacts students with disabilities and how they learn,” he said.

“I was offered a lecturing job if I completed my Masters there, they wanted me to stay even longer. I think the training we get here in Australia and especially at SCU is really good by world standards. I did really well in my software engineering courses.”

The former Elanora State High School student prefect has taken part in many community and volunteer events including the 15-month Kokoda Challenge Youth Program which included eight days in PNG.

As a member of the Rotary Club Peter also volunteers on the Southern Gold Coast to help the homeless – particularly youth living on the street, and has helped raise thousands of dollars for farmers at Longreach who are struggling through seasons of drought.

As tempting as it was to stay in the UK, Peter said he is glad to be back on the sunny Gold Coast where he will pick up where he left off as an SCU student ambassador.

“Now I have friends from all over the world. Some are planning to visit me here and one wants to study as a postgraduate at Southern Cross University.”

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