Timothy’s Travel Tips – USA, Canada, and Europe

Timothy F., ​Bachelor of Justice / Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
University of Wyoming, USA (Semester 2, 2017)

Host University

Campus life within the University of Wyoming was completely different from that within Brisbane. I arrived at the end of Fall and start of Winter so the campus was so beautiful with all the trees changing colour. About two months into the semester we had our first blizzard overnight; in the morning, absolutely everything was covered in snow (about 2 feet) and there was a massive snowplow and bobcat running around campus clearing all the snow.

Classic London

The city, Laramie, each year takes over Antarctica as the coldest place on earth for a short period of time due to the combination of snowstorms and fast winds. This year was no different and it reached below -30 degrees without taking into account wind chill. I joined a Fraternity whilst studying (Sigma Phi Epsilon) and enjoyed every second of it. Only after joining a Fraternity did I realise the extent of the dramatization of Fraternities due to Hollywood; there is so, so much more to a Fraternity/Sorority (female Fraternity) than what is portrayed. Most weeks within the Fraternity involved attending self-improvement seminars, philanthropic events and community service opportunities.

University Life

Host Country and Travels

By the time I arrive home I would have studied for a total of 4 months and lived outside my Host University for a total of 3 months on the road. Luckily for me I had attended International House College within the University of Queensland for two years and thus, made many friends from all over the world. Due to this, I was able to, and currently am, couch surfing all over the world.

I started off my travels with a 10-day road trip around Canada (Toronto > Montreal) then took a Grey Hound bus (as I did everywhere to save money) to Boston. From Boston I traveled the East Coast ending at New York. Each location on the East Coast I stayed with a friend for about 5-8 days total. By the time I started my study in Wyoming (August 28) I had seen over 7 states within the US and 5 cities within Canada. At the moment I am on my post-travel adventures. I finished school on the 18th December and since then I have been snowboarding and hiking all around the Colorado Rockies, backpacking around America, Netherlands and exploring areas of Europe, including London for a period of 13 days. I have payed for accommodation literally once this entire trip, being Amsterdam. It’s all about who you know!

Canals at night

 

Tips and advice for future students

I had one rule when I wanted to travel somewhere: You can never do enough personal research on the destination you are going to and the destinations you want to see! You will never hear the end of this from the Study Abroad Office at QUT. However if you do a superficial job researching your travels, you will have a superficial time and quite potentially run into trouble (for example, I missed a connecting bus time-change from New York > Wyoming which resulted in a 9 hour wait in a very questionable Cincinnati bus stop – do not recommend). I was able to see a total of 14 States within America, travel around the Netherlands and see a lot of England within a total of 3 months without encountering any major issues because I had planned the costs and logistics and foresaw any problems I may face by spending hours brainstorming. It sounds excessive, but there is nothing worse than being alone in a country you know nothing about and having no plan of action.

Planning is key

Leave all your preconceived notions of what it may be like wherever it is you are going and just accept being immersed in the new culture, it’s honestly the best way.

All you need to know about San Jose State University

Bridgette V., Bachelor of Journalism/ Bachelor of Law
San Jose State University, USA, (Semester 1, 2018)

Host University

Life on campus at San Jose State University (SJSU) was a fantastic experience. While the on-campus accommodation was very expensive, like anything in Silicon Valley, the student apartments were very well arranged and provided a great atmosphere to meet fellow exchange and domestic students. The resident facilities gave us lots of opportunities to meet new people and attend events, especially at the start of semester.

My bedroom

SJSU provided a great American college experience. During my time on exchange, I got to attend many sporting events, pep-rallies and tailgates and other school based events which allowed me to get involved in the SJSU spirit. As I don’t live on campus at home, it was great to see how many opportunities there were to become involved.

First Game of the Season!

Academics at San Jose were very different to that back at home. We had at least one piece of assessment every week throughout my exchange. However, each piece of assessment was not weighted as heavily as they are at QUT. For instance, a subject,  had five quizzes throughout the course of the semester, each worth 10-15%. While it was frustrating at times having constant assessment, it helped me to stay on top of the content and reduced the stress at the end of semester. The mid-terms and finals at SJSU also only assessed parts of the course we had learnt since the last piece of assessment. This lack of cumulative assessment made it easier to revise and prepare.

Host Country

The lifestyle in America was very similar to that in Australia. While the stereotype typically depicts Americans as less friendly than their Canadian neighbours, I didn’t find this to be true. They were always willing to go out of their way to help you and to show you around. Everyone was very hospitable and welcoming. The only main difference was tipping and the exclusion of tax in the advertised prices.

Highlights of exchange

I thoroughly enjoyed my time on exchange and would recommend study abroad as something everyone should undertake during their degree. It is a fantastic way to meet new people and explore new places while also gaining credit towards your degree. My main highlight was meeting and spending time with all the new people I met. While San Jose was a great place to explore, it was the people that I met along the way that definitely made my trip. The things we did, places we saw and things we experienced will be memories I cherish forever.

Things I didn’t expect

I was surprised by the number of international students I became friends with. Initially, I assumed I would become friends with mainly American students. However, understandably, they spend a lot of time studying and working, as I would do back at home. The international students on the other hand were all there with similar goals and attitudes. As such, we were all keen to explore and try new things and so we often grouped together to adventure around the place.

Tips and advice

My main tip would be to enter exchange with an open mind. Being open to new experiences allows you to do things and meet people you would never have expected to. Don’t be afraid to try new things and be ready to go with the flow. Often exchange is a waiting game, so be patient and be assured that it will all work out in the end.

Make lifelong friendships in Canada!

Sarah C., Bachelor of Business (Marketing)/Behavioural Science (Psychology)
University of Waterloo, Canada (Semester 1, 2018)

For my semester abroad, I attended the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada and completed subjects for my Bachelor of Psychology. Waterloo is a somewhat small town, largely populated by college students a few hours away from Toronto and Niagara Falls. I lived in an off-campus housing at the WCRI which is located just across the street from the university. Choosing to live at WCRI was the best decision I could have made as this is where I met most of my friends and it was a popular choice among other exchange students. As I was surrounded by other exchange students, there was always someone else who was trying to find the same building as me, wanted to make new friends or wanted to travel around Ontario.

Kayaking with five other exchange students at Algonquin Provincial Park

 

The university provided students with chances to travel around Ontario by making different trips available with the ICSN (International Canadian Student Network); these included trips to see the Toronto Blue Jays versus New York Yankees baseball game, a day at Niagara Falls and a hiking trip to see the leaves changing.

Niagara Falls

 

The cost of living in Waterloo is lower than in Brisbane, with my accommodation being especially cheap considering it was right next to campus as well as bus travel in the Waterloo-Kitchener Region being free for university students. Culturally, I would say that Canada is rather similar to Australia, however, their university culture is quite different from QUT. The University of Waterloo is highly focused on academics, with most students taking 5 or more subjects per semester.  For each of my psychology subjects, there were no assignments, and just 3-4 exams over the semester, which was a lot different than I was used to at QUT.

I would say that my semester on exchange was one of the best times in my life. I met many amazing people from countries all over the world such as Sweden, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and of course, Canada. I have learnt things about these countries that I probably would have never known otherwise, and taught them things about living in Australia and Brisbane.

I am so grateful to QUT for the opportunity to go on exchange and I’m very happy with myself that I chose the University of Waterloo. It was a lovely campus with friendly people and I can honestly say that I have made lifelong friends and made memories that I will always value.

Cairns to Coldest Town in United States

Ruaela R., Bachelor of Science
Clarkson University, USA (Semester 1, 2017)

Balancing full-time study and a heavy work schedule, I found time running away from me. Thus, it was almost a shock that I found myself on Exchange at Clarkson University in Upstate New York, just below Montreal. I had submitted all my exchange documents and received my Visa, but left little brain time to process that I was actually going to be boarding a plane to the other side of the world. The day before my departure to the States, I threw my warmest clothes into a suitcase, downloaded some bookmarked reads onto a kindle, shoved my headphones, sketchpad and laptop into a backpack, checking twice for my important documents, and reflected with disdain on why I thought going to literally the coldest town the United States for winter was a good idea.

I arrived in the States a few weeks early to fit in some travel before my course started, the units that matched up with my study plan were cancelled due to lack of interest. Panicking, yet emboldened by my newfound skills on a snowboard, I started firing emails at my exchange university and managed to land myself a spot in their research semester program. Instead of the suburban spot beneath the Rustbelt, I was going to be living off campus doing an Environmental Policy Minor and big data Integrated Research Project in the Adirondacks, a 6-million-acre park preserve and conservation project. It was 9 students living full time in a house, with the garage as our classroom, on the side of a lake in a town with a population only just pushing 5000.

New York State is NOT New York City, and can’t just wear cute outfits, and strut your way to dumplings and prosecco, as previously thought.

Doing Clarkson’s Integrated Research Project was interesting. Despite a 15 credit-hour course, I was in the classroom for 38 hours a week, from 9am-5pm on top of study, readings and assignments. You also had to go to class- crazy! There was none of QUT’s recorded lecture magic, and mental breaks, or days off for life errands. If you wanted to miss even a half day of class, you had to have proper reasoning. I was disappointed in myself for getting 7’s on my pass/fail semester, but with the temperature being -20 Celsius outside and being secluded in the park, there was nothing else to do but freeze or study.

Living in the massive Adirondack Park and doing research meant that I got to have incredible experiences. I got to partake in longitudinal data studies, which meant becoming well versed in the winter ecology, and doing 2 mile walks in snow shoes documenting animal tracks around the frozen lakes. In another class I had to walk 300 meters out onto the ice of a lake, and drill 6 inches through the compact to collect zoo plankton. I got to study the philosophy and art inspired by the Adirondacks, and winter camp for 3 days in -20 degrees with only peanut butter, apples and spam to eat. My true delight was the two months after the course that I spent living out of the back of a friends car, camping and polar plunging in all the forests along the West Coast.

I think we are meant to romanticize exchange. We are expected to come back having had a glorious time, feeling euphoric having had epiphanies. My exchange was actually a true test of my mental health, capacity and tolerance. But I got through it, and I think there is a lot of merit in that in itself. I think everyone who can do exchange, should, even if it is just to throw yourself into a crazy time for a while.

 

 

 

 

 

My SUNY Oswego Adventure!

Bella J., Bachelor of Business/Creative Industries
State University of New York at Oswego, USA (Semester 1, 2017)

It’s hard to believe my SUNY Oswego adventure is over! The past two semesters have flown by, and it’s safe to say I’m so happy with my decision to study abroad at SUNY Oswego for a year. SUNY Oswego has really stolen my heart, to the point where I extended my exchange for another semester! I never expected to fall in love with a town in the middle of upstate New York but somehow I am the happiest I have ever been.

First day of classes with my Spanish room-mate, Ines.

Everyone on campus is so friendly and helpful, even though some beg to hear my Australian accent on demand. It’s so easy to make friends and be involved on campus, there is honestly something for everyone. Unlike at QUT, I am heavily involved on campus with my sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, internships and other clubs such as Del Sarte Dance and the social soccer team. There is never a moment to spare, there is ALWAYS something on!The college puts on many events, especially during the first few weeks of the semester. At most of these events you’ll find free fairy floss, popcorn, pretzels, photo booths, snow cones, bull riding, therapy dogs (yes, you heard right) and even build-a-bears.

I attend classes five days a week, which has probably been one of the biggest adjustments so far. I’m not going to lie; classes here are far easier than those at home. I’m a straight A student here at Oswego, and I can assure you I am far from that at home. Although classes are compulsory and participation is included within your final grade I really enjoy the teaching style here. I feel as though I am taking much more from the classes than I ever did at home as class sizes are relatively small and you get to know your professor very well.

Before I came to Oswego, one of the biggest concerns I had was what the food in the dining halls would be like. Let me tell you, they’re absolutely amazing!! Everything and anything you could ever want is on campus, it takes a lot of strength to resist over eating. The highlights so far in regards to food has to be the UNLIMITED ice cream parlor at Cooper dining hall or the chocolate milk on tap. You can request wraps to be made for you, omelets, pizza, stir fry’s, etc. You name it, they have it!

Another one of my absolute favourite things about SUNY Oswego is Lake Ontario. SUNY Oswego sits right on Lake Ontario which separates the United States from Canada. Here you will find some of the most breathtaking sunsets you will have ever experienced. During the beginning of the fall semester (August) I would bring my homework to the lake and soak in the sun for hours after my classes were done for the day. It’s a great place to hang out with friends, take a dip in the water and just simply relax!

In front of Lake Ontario!

Although Oswego is approximately five hours from New York City, we are so close to little treasures unable to be found anywhere else in the world. We’re just a short drive from some beautiful national parks, Niagara Falls and the Canadian border for those interested in venturing up north! Close by there is Ontario Orchards, the Bluffs and Bevs Ice Cream just to name a few. Oswego town and Syracuse also offers some cute stores and eateries.

I originally lived in Scales Hall, one of the older buildings on campus but transferred to Onondaga Hall due to my decision to stay an additional semester (and Scales was closing for renovations in the spring). I now live in a suite on the tenth floor (a suite generally has three bedrooms with six people living in the room). The six suite mates share a lounge room and bathroom, which I much prefer over my original accommodation where 20 people share a communal bathroom. My room also has a stunning view of the lake, and my new room mate is one of my very best friends and sorority sisters! Another great thing about Onondaga (commonly referred to as Daga) is that there is a gym, dining hall and computer lab located in the basement.

Ines and I in front our building, Scales Hall

My dorm room was also much bigger than I initially expected, I had two sets of draws, a desk, bed, mirror, lamp and wardrobe.

Yes, you heard right.. I joined a sorority!. Sigma Delta Tau is one of four national sororities on campus. I was lucky enough to join this sisterhood during the fall 16 semester, and can honestly say it’s one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I now have 45 beautiful new best friends and memories to last a lifetime. These girls continue to shower with me with love and support and I could not be more grateful for them taking me in and making me always feel so at home.

Initiation day at Sigma Delta Tau!

Before I finish… prepare yourself for the snow. Coming from the sunny Gold Coast, snow is not a common sighting so this day was super special! The fact I had never seen snow really excited and shocked some of my friends.  I made a snowman, snow angel and even had a snowball fight. Another great thing about snow is snow days! We were blessed with a snow day due to the wild wind and snow covered roads in the Fall semester but surprisingly not in the Spring…  I had never experienced such cold weather in my life. Being on Lake Ontario, Oswego experiences ‘Lake Effect’ weather due to the wind. So rug up and prepare yourself if you’re heading there during the spring semester.

Building a snowman at SUNY Oswego.

I could not be happier with my decision to study abroad for a semester at SUNY Oswego. I have already made so many special memories and life long friends I will treasure forever. I am absolutely devastated to leave this place but know I will definitely be back soon. If you have any questions at all about SUNY Oswego, please email me (bellajackson@hotmail.com.au). I would be more than happy to help. I could talk about this place for hours! You can also follow me on Instagram (@bellajackson) to follow my adventures!

Go Gators!

Kate W., Bachelor of Creative Industries/Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
University of Florida, United States (Semester 1, 2017)

Exchange was the best thing I have ever done. I can’t advocate for any experience more than a university exchange for both personal and educational reasons. I travelled to the University of Florida in Gainesville, the land of the Gators. It is a small university town in the middle of nowhere surrounded by swampy, but beautiful landscape.

Life on campus was incredible. Everyone that goes to UF either lives on, or within 5 minutes of campus which leads to an incredibly immersive environment. Game days especially, where the university is the hub for all things gator. There are barbeques and cornhole (I still don’t know what this is) all over the university with people dawned in blue and orange screaming. 

I lived in the international dorm at UF which was a mix of international and American students. This was such a great place to live as I was right in the middle of campus with other international students looking to experience the same things as I was. We were able to travel together to Miami and New Orleans and experience university life together like football and basketball games every Saturday.

At the dorm we had the option of a meal plan or we could cook for ourselves in our floor kitchen. I chose to cook for myself which led to many amazing nights chatting and cooking with the other people on my floor.

I found the academics at UF a very different experience to QUT. While the work wasn’t as challenging, there was a lot more of it. I had weekly assignment and projects that were a lot more hands on. It lead me to change my study habits for the better to accommodate a bigger work load as well as making sure I engaged myself in as many social and travel activities at the same time.

One of the highlights of my trip was travelling to New Orleans. I took an 11 hour bus ride from Gainesville, Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana with another international student and the music, history and culture in New Orleans was unlike anywhere I have ever been.

After the weekend in New Orleans I travelled to Boca Raton in Florida for thanksgiving with an American friend as his home. It was awesome to experience a traditional American thanksgiving as we don’t have anything like it at home.

I would recommend exchange and the University of Florida to anyone considering it. UF is an immersive environment with so much happening both academically and socially. I have learnt so much about myself and met amazing people along the way who I hope will remain lifelong friends. Go Gators!

Extended Canada Exchange

Daniel M., Bachelor of Human Movement and Exercise Science
University of British Columbia, Canada (Semester 2, 2016)

On August 24th 2016, I said goodbye to my family and friends at Brisbane International airport for what I thought would just be a short 4-month overseas exchange in Canada. However, this short exchange eventuated into a year of life changing experiences and incredible memories.

I was lucky enough to spend 2 weeks before the beginning of classes exploring British Columbia with fellow exchange students from around the world attending the Vancouver campus whom I had met through a UBC Facebook page. This was just a small taste of what was to come for me in the next 11 months.

My host institution was The University of British Columbia Okanagan campus, located in the small city of Kelowna approximately 4 hours east of Vancouver. Move in day was a surreal feeling as I had never lived in a college dorm environment before and I was excited to meet the housemates that would have to put up with me over the next 13 weeks. Thankfully, we all got along immediately and we made our way to our building’s orientation where I met two other Australians also on exchange. Over the first two weeks we attended every university event, making the most of our time, meeting new people every day and becoming part of the Canadian culture.

Thankfully, I found the academic portion of my exchange considerably easier than QUT permitting me to complete assignments and study ahead of time. This allowed me to focus more on explore the beautiful country that is Canada. One of my favourite trips that I participated in was to Banff with a few other exchange students that I had met. We were lucky enough to visit Lake Louise around the first snowfall and it was a simply breathtaking experience. Towards the end of November, the local ski mountain, Big White, opened. Having purchased our season passes within the 2nd week of classes this had been an experience we had all been looking forward to. We spent almost every day of our last month (class permitting) making the 2-hour round trip up the mountain to enjoy the amazing winter playground.

Finals had unfortunately crept up at a saddening speed. With the end of my exchange around the corner I made the call to my family back home to say I was going to extend my once in a lifetime trip. With the lifelong friends that I had made at UBCO, we secured post-semester accommodation for 2 months living on the ski mountain. Yet this still this was not enough and come March, I was granted a working visa to continue on into the summer exploring, living every day to the fullest, and continuing to fall in love with Canada.

I am lucky enough to say that thanks to my outbound exchange program, I have had the best year of my life. I had the opportunity to meet new friends, network with some of the best professors in my field and visibly grow as a person. The best decision of my life.

 

 

An artists perspective into San Jose State University

Christina B., Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual Arts)
San Jose State University, USA (Semester 1, 2017)

Women’s March, 21 January 2017

Located in downtown San Jose, SJSU is part of a diverse local community. Being in the heart of Silicon Valley, tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Netflix have their headquarters nearby; there are large Hispanic and Vietnamese populations, with a great variety of restaurants and cultural celebrations on offer. Additionally, the progressive nature of the Bay Area results in lots of protests and community-organized events.

Accommodation 

My home during exchange with resident cat Sabrina

San Francisco is a little over an hour away by train and there are great hiking opportunities in redwood forests and open space preserves just a 30 minute drive away. Studying at SJSU gave me insight to both American college culture and Californian and the US life at large. I decided to live in a share-house off campus (to save a lot of money compared to on-campus housing and to have more independence), which meant I had even greater exposure to the day-to-day happenings in downtown San Jose.

Education

My exchange was part of a Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts) program and the facilities and technical tuition available at SJSU were outstanding! They have a wood-shop, metal-casting foundry, glass hotand cold shops, ceramics studio and jewelry lab… amongst many other facilities.

Friends from glassblowing with our work!

The teaching style was very different to at QUT: attendance was graded; there was no separation between lecture and practical time as the same professor taught both across the same session; contact hours were high; and the coursework was more structured and broken down into many small projects, which was ideal for learning a variety of new technical skills.

Experience

One highlight during my time on exchange was having a solo exhibition in one of the student galleries on campus. I negotiated an independent project with one of my professors and built a ten and a half foot tall sculpture for an installation. (Side note – becoming familiar with imperial units versus the metric system took some getting used to!)

A friend helping document my exhibition in Gallery 3 at SJSU

Student exhibition openings occurred on Tuesday nights from 6-9pm, immediately after a public talk by a visiting artist. The openings were a great way to network, catch up with friends, check out current art at SJSU and supplement one’s diet! The exhibition really increased my confidence in showing my work.

With friends after filming a performance work

Through studying at SJSU I gained a lot of wonderful friends, professional contacts and skills in art. Being situated in a new environment, I gained a new perspective about Australian culture and myself, as well as learning about American culture in all its diversity.

The Twin Cities!!

Eliza Blanch, Bachelor of Business (International)
University of Minnesota, USA (Semester 1, 2018)

I didn’t originally choose the University of Minnesota but as I was unable to go to my first choice, it seemed like the next best fit. The campus is huge and a little overwhelming at first but you soon find your way around and meet new people, making it the new normal. Everything about the school is a lot like you see in the movies. With sporting matches where everyone gets involved and college traditions, such as homecoming, it’s something that you may have never experienced before.

The university is located right near the city centre of Minneapolis. It is a quiet, nice town which I believed was great for a college student. This was especially for business students as there are many Fortune 500 companies who base themselves in Minneapolis and the school gives you a lot of opportunities to learn about what they do.

Although QUT and the University of Minnesota are both located in the city, due to their size they have completely different teaching styles. This is because you will attend two classes a week for the same subject which are a mixture of tutorials and lectures. You will also do a lot of compulsory homework for these classes but this was a good way to remember what you were learning.

The university had many strengths especially with the business school as it is highly regarded and well known in the country. Also, the exchange group that they have for business students is a great way to meet fellow exchange students and Americans.

During my stay, I stayed in off-campus housing where a lot of American college students stayed as it was cheaper than what the university offered and had better facilities. The facilities included my own room and bathroom, a desk, a swimming pool, gym and basketball court.For the year, I saved over $25,000 and tried my best to stick to a budget of around $1,500 a month. I would say that the cost in comparison to Brisbane would just be a little bit cheaper. However, it was very hard to stick to the budget because there are so many activities that you can do but they do cost money and sometimes it was easier to eat out. Whilst away I used a commonwealth travel card for most of my transactions but opened an American bank account to pay my rent as I was charged a service fee for using a foreign card.

I didn’t experience much of a culture shock due to the similarities between our two countries. But to ensure my safety whilst over there I made sure I didn’t put myself into dangerous situations and if out late at night made sure I always walked home with someone.

Some tips that I would give is to always have a can-do attitude whilst away and always say yes to new experiences that you might not do at home. If travelling within America I would suggest having a good size carry-on bag so that you don’t have to pay for check-in luggage. For travel insurance, I would recommend Travel Insurance Direct as they cover all you need and are reasonably priced. When flying I highly recommend Delta as they were always a good airline and provided free carry-on luggage and entertainment.

Coming back from the exchange I feel as though I am more independent and confident in the things I do. Academically I have broadened my knowledge of American business procedures, which will only help me develop my skills professionally back home. Going on exchange is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you meet so many people from all around the world who in the end become lifelong friends.

University of Florida – Top 10 Public University, Number 1 Exchange Destination

David Li, Bachelor of Laws
University of Florida, USA (Semester 1, 2018)

Looking back on the past semester, I am still left in disbelief at how quickly the 120 days studying abroad passed by.

Admittedly the beginning of exchange is rough. Firstly, there are a lot of documents and procedures required for entry into the US as a student. For example, I had to fly down to Sydney for a day to complete a two-minute interview at the US Consulate office. However, once you reach your destination you’ll be glad you went through all the trouble.

The University of Florida is situated in Gainesville, Florida. It is the definition of a college town. The college is a top 10 public university with over 50,000 students and pretty much the only noteworthy thing in its area. As such, the campus is huge. I stayed at Weaver Hall, which is the typical American dorm. However, these dorms are split between Americans and other international students, which provides the perfect opportunity to meet new people. Being situated on campus also made it very convenient to get everywhere.

The gym on campus is free to use to students and so is the bus system. I bought the meal plan, which meant I could go to the dining hall during its opening hours. The dining hall is buffet style. Although the food isn’t top quality, I would still recommend getting the meal plan if you don’t like cooking. There are plenty of other activities to do as well, and UF truly delivers a college experience.

The teaching method in the States is quite different. Instead of large pieces of assessment, they spread it out consistently over the semester in little chunks. Also, many classes mark you on participation, so you’ll have to go to class. I found this more manageable and less stressful in a way, since you’re always on top of your work and there isn’t a big final assessment piece like QUT subjects normally have.

I saved around 16,000AUD for exchange, which was vital since the exchange rate was really poor during my time there. I may have remained under-budget had I not gone travelling around America for a month afterwards. I used an international card setup in Brisbane and bought a T-Mobile phone plan while I was there.

On a more personal note, UF will always have a place in a heart. I’ve met so many amazing people and have had so many crazy experiences. It really does feel like a movie that played out in front me. It’s a surreal and bittersweet feeling looking at my life for the past six months, and knowing that it won’t ever be quite like that again. But that’s what makes exchange worth doing – the countless, unique experiences you’ll have and the extraordinary people you meet. Where else are you going to have people go crazy over your accent, or be surrounded by friends who all live a short walk away, or be able to study in a different country and immerse yourself in a culture wholly different to Australia’s.

Overall, exchange was one of the best times of my life. I can see why everyone recommends studying abroad. My biggest tip would be to go with an open mind. Exchange is what you make of it so be sure to make the most out of this once in a lifetime opportunity. It may be hard to prepare for exchange, and the initial days during it. However, in a matter of days your exchange destination will feel like home and you’ll be so glad you did it.

GO GATAS