Studying Abroad in Manhattan

Su Ji L, Bachelor of Creative Industries

Fordham University (Semester 2, 2016)

FORDHAM UNIVERSITY

Upon being accepted into Fordham, there were many choices to be made. Where would I study? Where would I live? I chose to live and study at the Lincoln Centre campus (Manhattan), over the Rose Hill (Bronx) campus as it seemed much more fitting with my area of study (Visual Arts). It just made more sense to live and study in one of the most active and vibrant art communities in the world, with access to some of the world’s best galleries and museums. While the campus is much smaller, taking up a little over a single block in Manhattan, the sense of family was the greatest I had ever felt in any educational institution. People and facilities were always close by and easily accessible when needed! Living on campus enabled me to experience the American “campus culture” I had heard so much about. I was accommodated in a spacious apartment with three other exchange students from Colombia, Korea and Mexico. Sharing a room with my Colombian roommate, Luisa, enabled me to form a sisterly bond in which we learned so much about each other’s cultures and about ourselves. The smaller class sizes and campus events also enabled us to be active members of the Fordham community and enjoy new friends and experiences. Joining student clubs and alliances at Fordham was one of the best decisions I ever made here as it gave me a group of diverse but like-minded people to call family overseas.

HOST COUNTRY

While I love Australia for its diversity, I will never forget just how much the diversity of Manhattan took me by surprise. People of every race, religion, gender, sexuality, walk of life are gathered in a place that encourages them to be the best they can be but to also fearlessly be themselves. I remember  it hitting me full force one day when I asked my roommate if it would look weird for me to wear a certain pair of stockings, to which she replied, “Susie, look around you. Someone’s always weirder here.” It was true and it quickly became what I loved most about where I had gone for exchange.

That being said, it’s also well known that Manhattan is one of the most expensive cities for living and travel in the world. There are even differences in grocery prices when compared to other boroughs in New York, such as Brooklyn or Queens. Fellow students often share the cheapest places for groceries or entertainment. If it weren’t for classmates, I wouldn’t have thought of saving up small funds for buying Christmas gifts for friends that invited me to their homes for the holidays. However, I was still able to enjoy myself while learning to effectively budget.

The sheer amount and variety of events occurring in New York can almost be overwhelming. Prices will often vary, but many don’t require big spending and are even free or pay-what-you-want. I found myself attending events I never would have imagined, such as a Bill Murray bartending evening; a Halloween dog costume parade; and a variety of rock concerts I had been struggling to catch in Brisbane! Living in a city that’s the centre of the art, music, theatre, fashion and hospitality industries really opened up the range of experiences I was able to enjoy!HIGHLIGHTS AND ADVICE

Be open and willing to have a life-changing experience. Put in the effort to go out, make friends, set and achieve personal, professional and educational goals. While living in a nation of strangers that share a different culture or even language from you can be daunting, but stepping out of your comfort zone is the best thing you can do for yourself and your exchange experience. This is the best chance to be the best you can be.

Life at University of South Carolina

Aleksa M, Bachelor of Business/Creative Industries

South Carolina, USA (Semester 2, 2016)

An exchange semester in America had been a goal of mine ever since I started university. When I received my confirmation letter from the University of South Carolina I was ecstatic as I knew this would be the trip of a lifetime. And I wasn’t let down. USC’s beautiful campus gave off the perfect first impression, a lush green campus filled with beautiful gardens and all the amenities one could hope for. Included in these is a world class gym, complete with squash courts and a rock climbing wall. My assigned dorm room was small but relatively modern with a nice kitchen, living area and, of course, great room and floor mates. My first and only real shock came during the first week of classes when it was explained that class attendance is mandatory at all classes. Depending on subjects you get 3-5 absences which are marked and further absences may result in a penalty to your final grades. The subjects at USC were similarly taught to those at QUT however the American units appear to be more exam heavy.

The cost of living in America is fairly similar compared to Australia as far as cost of food and entertainment is concerned. The cost of accommodation was really the only downside of this trip, as it is compulsory for exchange students to stay in American dorms there is no option to seek alternatives. However, the upside to staying in the dorms is meeting other local and international students. In any case the money spent on accommodation and food can be easily re-couped through the money saved on alcohol. America (particularly the south) has some of the cheapest alcohol you will ever see and an incredible variety of craft beer. In Columbia, the first place you will learn about is 5-points. 5-points is a small block of multiple bars many of which serve drinks for $1, beers, spirits you name it. Prices vary but the most you will pay for a drink on any given night will be $3. The true college experience.During my time in America I got to experience a beaming new culture. In particular, a major highlight for me was the football season. In the south, football is a religion. For me, the Saturdays and Sundays spent tailgating were the best part of the trip. I am a huge football fan and the culture of American football fans is unlike no other. The stadium atmosphere is intense and definitely something to experience. The USC stadium was sold out almost every game however all students are more or less guaranteed a ticket through the student lottery system. I also enjoyed the ease of travelling through America through cheap flights and rent-a-cars. Spur of the moment decisions like a weekend road trip to New Orleans or booking a last minute budget flight to San-Francisco are always on the cards. Quite possibly the most beautiful part of America is the distinctive culture and experience each city gives off. It’s almost as though you are entering a new country. My exchange semester in America was the experience of a lifetime. However, the best and integral part of the experience was the amazing people I met, many of whom I’m still in close contact with and will remain friends for life.  In short, I couldn’t have wished for a better way to spend my semester abroad. GO COCKS!!

Canada Eh!

Jessica R, Bachelor of Business/Creative Industries

Queens University (Semester 2, 2016)

My semester on exchange in Kingston, Canada has finished and what an experience it has been!

While my time at Queen’s was nothing short of amazing, it’s also important to remember that there are a lot of differences to QUT. Aside from the obvious difference in the accent (as to be expected, eh), the classroom sizes, teaching methods and workload are quite different to what we’ve experienced at QUT. With smaller classrooms and lessons reflecting what we call tutorials, participation is expected and more often than not your contribution in class is graded. I also found there was more work to complete on a weekly basis, with small assessments due regularly or a weekly quiz. Another major difference is the amount of group work – expect to be working in 4 or 5 groups at a time!

Aside from the differences academically, university life is similar to that in Australia. Small differences such as more of a community feel and the opportunity to live in residence make your exchange experience just that little bit more exciting and different.

While Canada is similar to Australia in a lot of ways, driving on the opposite side of the road was probably the biggest adjustment I had to make – even just crossing the road! The cost of living is similar to that of Australia, just remember taxes are added and tipping is expected in restaurants and for any services. While it’s not overly difficult to travel within Canada, it is expensive. For example, the 2 ½ hour train trip from Kingston to Toronto cost me around $50 each way, although there are options for buses as well. My tip here is to try and book transport in advance if you can, and keep an eye out for specials!

When reflecting back over my time on exchange I had so many good experiences that it’s hard to choose highlights! Perhaps my biggest take away from my time on exchange is the people I’ve met. Queen’s has a great orientation program and a few associations tailored to exchange students, which makes meeting people from all over the world so easy! I also found that because exchange at Queen’s is such a popular thing to do – 80% of third year commerce students go on exchange – the majority of students in my classes were also exchange students. This was comforting in the fact that we were all in the same boat in regards to being new to the system and how things work in Canada. It also meant I got to work in groups with students from all over the world. Perhaps the biggest highlight from my exchange experience was my accommodation. While trying to organise somewhere to live through the internet from the other side of the world was stressful, it couldn’t have worked out any better. I subletted a room in a house with 5 other girls, of which 4 were Canadian students and the other a fellow exchange student from England. I would highly recommend to anyone going on exchange to try and live with some local students if you can! Not only did these 5 girls become my best friends, they also made me feel incredibly welcome into their home and friendship groups – putting right amongst the local student culture!

All in all, my exchange experience in Canada was one of the best things I’ve done in my life so far and I wouldn’t change anything about it. The whole experience, including all the ups and downs, has made me a better person and has contributed to my education more than anything ever could!

 

A few reasons to head to Michigan this winter

Michigan State University

Location: East Lansing, United States

Why here?: Great spread of summer (Australian winter) short-term programs, student town, football games, on-campus living

Michigan State University has been around for about 150 years and is the centrepiece of East Lansing, USA. The whole town rallies around the university and their much beloved Spartans football and basketball teams. MSU is one of the top 100 universities in the world and is a leading research university.

To make the most of the experienced and knowledgeable staff at MSU, why not partake in a short-term study experience this summer available to all faculties. If you’re an Engineering, Creative Industries, Business, Law or Education student, in particular, then check out the Global Portal for all short-term exchange options to MSU. There are a wide range of options including:

The campus encompasses around 5,200 acres of land and includes 27 residential buildings, 10 on-campus dining halls, 4 indoor fitness facilities, 2 golf courses, and of course Spartan Stadium which holds 75,000 people. You will also have the opportunity to attend concerts, shows, theatre and museums across campus.

East Lansing is easily accessible from Detroit by a short bus ride on the Michigan Flyer. Chicago and Toronto and Niagara Falls in Canada are driving distance from the university.

QUT students Hayley and Emma attending a Spartans Football game

So why not don the green and white and cheer the Spartans on?

Country music and ice hockey in beautiful Calgary

University of Calgary

Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Why here?: Close to mountains, beautiful and safe city, great vibe, hockey, country music!

U of C is the second best young university in the world! They are renowned for their high quality research and for playing host to the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics (Jamaica we have a bob sled team/Eddie the Eagle…). The main campus, easily accessible by train or bus, includes a world class ice rink, gym, and three main residential buildings for exchange students. Cascade Hall is where most exchange students reside, but Aurora and Yamnuska are also great options for immersing yourself in the U of C culture with Canadian students (I chose Yam).

QUT student Emma enjoying the snow

Speaking from experience, the application process for accommodation and subject selection is quite easy and straight-forward, and the staff are incredibly helpful if you have trouble. Best of all, most other activities and services (such as bus and train fares, and the gym) are included in your application process! This means you will know exactly how much spending money you can put towards travel, food and night life.

Getting into the spirit of things!

With local hockey (go Flames!) and football teams (go Stamps!) and with the U of C Dinos teams, Calgary offers plenty of opportunities to experience the sports Canadians love. Calgary is also the home to the famous Stampede, so expect two-stepping and line dancing at midnight in the country bars around town.

Close to the mountains, an easy trip to go skiing

Thinking About Going on Exchange? Do it.

My final exams are over, Bishop’s is closing for the holidays and by now the majority of my wardrobe is purple, so I guess that means my time here as a student is up!

Applying to go on exchange and choosing Bishop’s has been the best decision I’ve ever made. So I want to take a moment to say to anyone who might be considering going on an exchange (or even if you’re not), do it! There are so many amazing places out there, choose somewhere you’ve always wanted to go or somewhere that looks cool to you and just go for it. Get that second job and start saving, work hard for a scholarship that can get you there, plan a budget that works for you, boost your grades and take the time to put together a great application – whatever it is you can do to make it happen, if you can do it, I guarantee it’ll be worth it.

My advice once you get there? Immerse yourself in the university life, embrace the foreign culture, stay in contact with family and friends back home, study (not too much! but enough to pass), make new friends, party, travel and just have fun with it – it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

What I love about the student exchange program is that it’s more than just travelling and more than just studying. I got the chance to live in another country for the first time, have the ‘college experience’, be the ‘foreign exchange student’, and meet people and learn things I wouldn’t have had the chance to otherwise. If you’re experience is anything like mine, you’ll have the time your life.

I also just want to take a second to mention, it’s ‘pass or fail’. Okay, I’ll leave it at that.

So after all this, if you’re wondering why I’m not an absolute mess right now about having to leave, because I’m so in love with this place and the people in it, I’ll be returning for a visit to Bishop’s in January to say my goodbyes before I fly back home to Australia. Until then – I might not be an exchange student anymore but that doesn’t mean the adventure is over yet! I came all this way, so now it’s time to travel!

10 Things to Love About Bishop’s University

Let’s be honest, there’s more than just 10 great things about Bishop’s. I could rave about this place all day. But instead I’m keeping it brief and bringing you 10 things I’ve enjoyed about going to school here!

  1. Small School Size

You see familiar faces everywhere you go and are always bumping into friends.

  1. Residence

You can choose to live off campus in one of the many nearby houses and apartments or on campus in one of the residence buildings. There are lots of great options to make you feel right at home.

  1. Dining Hall

It’s been declared the 2nd best in the country and it’s easy to see why. With an ever-changing menu, made-to-order omelette, crêpe, stir-fry, pasta and grill stations, long opening hours and plenty of space to eat with friends or catch up on some television on the projector screen.

  1. Sport

There’s something on every weekend from football, basketball, lacrosse, hockey, soccer or rugby. The atmosphere at these games is incredible. There are varsity and club teams meaning everyone gets a chance to play.

  1. Classes

They’re engaging and taught by professors who know you by name and are always up for a chat.

  1. Clubs

From the Environmental Club, Investment Club, Social Justice Collective or Bowling Club, there’s something for everyone.

  1. The Gait

The campus bar hosts Happy Hour every Thursday and Gait Night every Saturday with free entry, drink specials, DJs and live bands, and themed events.

  1. The Plex

There’s a lot to do in one place. This building has a gym, study area, pool, ice skating rink, basketball courts, combat room, dance studio, health clinic and café, all available for student use.

  1. Diversity

The university is made up of 2300 students of all sorts of different nationalities, races, sexualities and genders.

  1. Location

Small town life is great. You can walk to everything you need, no cars needed. There’s a supermarket, service station, pharmacies, banks, restaurants, various shops (liquor store, bookstore, dollarstore) and the local pub. And for when you’re feeling that city life, Montréal is a bus ride away.

Saying Goodbye to Queen’s

What an adventure my time on exchange has been! Currently in my last week of classes and with only 2 weeks until I leave Kingston to set off on my own travels, it’s time to reminisce on my time here in Canada. Since my last post in October, I’ve done and seen some pretty cool things!thumb_img_7490_1024

Let’s start with my birthday. I was lucky enough to spend my 20th birthday here in Canada with my new friends and amazing housemates… who even bought me ice-cream cake! (Who knew Canada had the best ice-cream cake ever?!)

This then brings us to Halloween… which is just like the movies. Everyone goes all out, not just for 1 night either – 3 nights in a row! I was somewhat sensible and stayed in for 1 night, but made the most of it at house parties with my housemates and English/Australian exchange friends.

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The weekend following Halloween, a group of us went on a road trip into New York State to stay at a house in the mthumb_img_7594_1024ountains for the weekend. With one of the most beautiful views I’ve seen, the massive two story house was incredible – set with a spa and outdoor fire.thumb_img_7653_1024

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What a great weekend it was – cooking meals with that view, relaxing in the spa and hiking through the mountains!

My most recent adventure took me to Toronto for a weekend. Only 2 1/2 hours away by train, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend some time in another amazing city. My friends and I went to a Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey game, went up the CN Tower, did some shopping, went to the Christmas Markets and of course the Santa Clause Parade!

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While I’ve certainly been busying exploring, I’ve also had a heap of uni work to do. With mostly group projects, the work here has been quite different to home, but having the pass/fail system definitely takes the pressure off and has allowed to go to all these amazing places!

My time in Kingston is coming to an end, and saying goodbye to all my new friends is definitely going to be hard. But my adventure isn’t over yet. In 2 weeks I fly to the UK to spend Christmas with my best friend at her new home in Wales, before flying back to Canada to backpack the West Coast of Canada and the US with some of my new Australian friends. I then meet up with my dad and sister in San Francisco to finish off my journey! As this chapter of my adventure ends, the new one is just beginning – so stay tuned for my next update… wherever I may be!

 

 

10 things I love about SUNY Oswego

SUNY Oswego has really stolen my heart, to the point where I have now 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. I am so beyond thankful for the experiences I have had so far and look forward to the memories to come. Here I share the top 10 things I love about my school!

1. The lake: 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!

2. Food: If you read my last blog post, you’ll understand how much I love the dining halls here at SUNY Oswego. My personal favourites are the unlimited ice cream parlours, made-to-order pizza and chocolate milk on tap. You’ll never be disappointed with what’s on offer amongst the five dining halls across campus. If that’s not enough to satisfy you there’s also a variety of cafes you can choose from and use your ‘dining dollars’. If you’re eating off campus I highly recommend trying Sub shop, Wonzone’s Calzones and Dino’s!

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3. Snow: November 21, 2016 marked the very first day I saw 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 shockedsome 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.

4. The social aspect: There is literally always something to do. Unlike QUT, SUNY Oswego prides itself on student involvement and always has something fun on. Whether it be hockey games, bonfires or concerts there’s always an opportunity to socialize! During the first few weeks of the semester there is almost something on every single day; you’ll find free fairy floss, pretzels, snow cones, therapy dogs and fun activities like photo booths, build-a-bear and even bull riding!

5. Location: I know what you’re thinking.. How can Oswego be a great location? You’d be surprised! 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, Niagra 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.

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6. My dorm room: 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. My room also has a stunning view of the lake, and my new room mate is one of my very best friends! 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.

7. Classes: 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.

8. Extra curricular activities: There is seriously something for everyone on campus! I urge all new students to go to student involvement fair and sign up for anything that interests you! It’s a great way to put yourself out there and make a bunch of new friends outside of classes. I initially was apart of the dance club and soccer team before joining my sorority.

9. People: Everyone I come in contact with on campus is always friendly and goes out of their way to either hold the door open or greet me with a smile. Not once have I felt homesick during my time here, everyone goes out of their way to make me feel right at home.

10. Sigma Delta Tau: My home away from home. 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.

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The Beta Theta’s of Sigma Delta Tau!

Please email me (bellajackson@hotmail.com.au) If you have any questions at all about SUNY Oswego or studying abroad in general. I’m more than happy to help! You can also follow me on Instagram (@bellajackson) to keep up with my adventures.

7 American Holiday Traditions

The luckiest part about arriving in the United States for a semester at the end of their summer is being able to experience almost all of their seasons. With the seasons, of course, come the celebration of holidays and the traditions that go along with it. As such, I have made a list of 7 very American holiday traditions that I have noticed during my time at Michigan State University.

1. Fall Decorations
In Brisbane, we don’t see many leaves “fall” at all. In Michigan, it is a whole different story – when I arrived, the trees were a beautiful green. Within a few months, they began to change to beautiful shades of orange, yellow and red. With this comes the celebration of the fall season – including fall wreaths on doors as early as August, many pumpkins and also Halloween decorations.

2. Fall Food
With the fall decorations, there are also an array of food offered in stores and cafeterias alike. In fact, it may as well be retitled “Apples vs Pumpkins” as you will not turn right without seeing an apple pie or a pumpkin spiced latte.

3. Halloween
If you think you have seen any sort of Halloween celebration growing up in Australia, you need to think again. With Halloween falling on a Monday this year, celebrations began the Thursday before, with some sort of party/celebration occurring each night until 31 October. This also taught me that it is possible to creatively whip up 5 different costumes at very short notice!

4. Thanksgiving
My first real thanksgiving is yet to occur in the following few days. From what I can tell, American families are beautiful and welcoming, especially to young international students they are newly friends with. Stay tuned for an update on the dinner!

5. Door Decorations
From Halloween, to Thanksgiving, and coming up to Christmas, the students in the dorm LOVE to get around celebrating the seasons on their dorm room doors. Halloween saw an array of spider webs, spiders, pumpkins and even baskets of ‘candy’ to share with fellow students. As Thanksgiving approaches, I have seen some Fall/Thanksgiving decorations with many happy wishes on the students’ exterior whiteboards. As we are also getting closer to Christmas there have been Christmas decorations slowly appearing on the doors (my own included – see below).

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6. Ugly Christmas Sweaters
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xperiencing seasons on the other side of the world means that Christmas is of course in winter. With winter comes jumpers, and naturally, with Christmas means ugly Christmas jumpers. Again, see above myself getting into this traditional seasonal trend.

7. Christmas Lights
Another one of the many incredible things of living on a huge campus is watching it light up at night with snow flakes, stars, Christmas trees and Santa Claus. Both externally on top of campus buildings and internally in the dorm rooms and homes there have been an abundance of lights put up recently and it looks absolutely beautiful.

I look forward to seeing what my final months bring and if there are anymore surprising/extravagant holiday traditions to come. Until next time!