Advice for those Arizona-bound!

The biggest problem I faced with Arizona State University was registering for classes at the very beginning. As the process of being accepted as an exchange student into ASU took a very long time, I was not able to enrol into the classes I wanted originally as by the time I was allowed to do so, most classes were full and I had to find alternatives. Students did not have the possibility of listening to lectures online for my classes; therefore most classes were full to capacity. The biggest upset was the fact I was not able to study a management class I planned on studying to get credit for BSB115 over here. However this problem could not be avoided and hopefully future students don’t have to suffer the same problem.

I would have liked to know the length of the process of being accepted as an ASU student before I left, so I could have communicated prior to coming with my professors in order to see if they could reserve a spot for me. The advice I would give to future exchange students is that they should have backup courses that they want to study if their intended courses fall through. It would save a lot of time and hassle by doing so. However the exchange department on QUT’s end was very helpful during the time I was changing my study plan, and without them it would have been a lot more stressful and complicated.

I would also advise future students to socialise as much as they can outside the exchange student’s circle as possible in order to meet actual students from that country/college. I spent little time with other members of the exchange group at ASU because I wanted to make friends with actual ASU students as I believed I would be able to experience the American culture to a greater extent with them than by sticking with other international students.  I believe that this was really effective and easily the best decision to make, as I have made life-long friends who were able to show me the side of American culture I was looking to experience, and I believe I could not have done that had I not socialised outside the exchange circle.

My exchange experience in the USA was the best 6 months of my life so far, and I strongly encourage anyone to take part in an exchange program because it really is an invaluable experience and the chance to experience another culture is amazing.

Arizona: a great cultural experience

The location of Arizona provided for a great cultural experience, as I was able to travel a few hours up north with my friends and be on the beaches in California, or travel an hour up the mountains nearby to watch it snow. The extremes of the climate were unbelievable, and were a lot of fun to experience as I have never seen snow before. I didn’t think I’d see snow in Arizona for my first time. It was still warm enough to be in the pool in December (middle of winter), and I had the opportunity to make many new friends through the many pool parties which were held at the apartment complex. Through the new friends I made, I was also able to experience the professional sports leagues, where I was able to attend NBA and MLB games, which is my favourite aspect of American Culture therefore was truly an amazing experience.

The biggest expense incurred was rent for accommodation, which ended up being around $800 a month for 5 months. This was definitely more than expected, however the convenience of its location was well worth it. Other expenses included general expenses such as food and utilities and internet costs which were very cheap. If I was looking to travel anywhere out of walking distance, I was required to take a taxi as I did not own a car in the USA and the public transport system was very basic, therefore did not cater to locations other than the campus. I believe that was the issue I disliked the most, and recommend future students to make friends with students who have cars so they can avoid that cost.

Food in supermarkets were a lot cheaper than Australia – almost half the price. Take-away was significantly cheaper than Australia too therefore I was able to live very comfortably. Season tickets for football and basketball were $150, and something I recommend strongly because it was such a unique experience. I spent more money than I expected as I had the opportunity to travel frequently and experience much of the American Culture I love. I recommend students set aside money for music and sports tickets, and even entertainment events such as going to the movies was almost a third of the price as Australia where adult tickets were seven dollars. The scholarship I received from QUT helped out significantly as it helped to pay for accommodation and also the school textbooks I was required to buy.

Tailgating: one of the best cultural experiences

 ASU is well-known for their space science courses offered and also their geology programs. The WP Carey Business School for management majors is also very popular and definitely a strength of the college. Their football and basketball programs are definitely one of the biggest strengths, as they are in the NCAA Division 1 league and their games are often televised on ESPN.  One of the best cultural experiences was going to, “tailgating”, where students turn up at the parking lot opposite the football stadium to socialise before the game. The whole college sports atmosphere was the biggest shock to me as I could not comprehend just how huge the college sports scene is in America. Players who are good in their teams become nationally famous and are often on ESPN, which was very unreal to me because they were only my age.

During the semester I studied Entrepreneurship and Value Creation (MGT360), Sociology, Philosophy and French. The biggest difference with the delivery method was that the subjects you had on Monday, you also had on Wednesday and Friday. The classes you had on Tuesday you also had on Thursday. I was very surprised that most students had class 5 days a week, unlike at my experiences at QUT. Furthermore marks were broken up, therefore it was a lot like high school where I had about 4-5 exams for each class throughout the semester, instead of the traditional 40% midterm and 60% final that I’m used to here.

Tests were mostly multiple-choice and short-answer, so I found the delivery method of assessment to be much easier than at QUT as the marks were broken up over several exams. Therefore there was less content to study and multiple-choice style exams made the exams quite easy. Furthermore, in my philosophy class, the lecturer put all possible exam questions on blackboard a few days prior, therefore all exam questions and answers were already given to students. My entrepreneurial class however was a lot more independently focused, where the teacher gave minimal input and very little help throughout the semester. The teacher explained that was the focus of the class as it concentrated on students being able to turn their ideas into a business plan on their own. Therefore I experienced two extremes of the delivery method, and I found both to be very beneficial ways to learn.

An American semester at Arizona State University

I had the pleasure of attending Arizona State University, where all my classes were on the Tempe Campus. With close to 70,000 students attending that campus, meant that the University there was magnificent and very beautiful. My impressions of the campus were just like the movies. Students rode long-boards to school and wore clothes showing school spirit for “The Sun Devils”. My impressions of the university were that it was prestigious and classically an, “American College”, where students were there for socialising with one another just as much as they were there to study. This school spirit and socialising aspect was something very different to my experiences at QUT. I joined a fraternity for a short period of time, and found it to be an invaluable experience where I made many new friends.

Students at Arizona State University came from all over the country, and most of my new friends were not close to home. A large percentage of them came from the east coast or mid-west, and came to Arizona as they wanted to be far away from what they were used to. This was a huge shock to me as many of the QUT students live in Brisbane, and do not come from the other side of Australia just to attend university.

The campus was magnificent. It was massive with beautiful gardens and water features spread out. Buildings went by subjects so it was easy to navigate throughout the college and despite it being in Arizona, the campus was very green. The accommodation was a 5 minute walk to the campus, and was only accommodated by students of the college, therefore I was always living near my new friends. The surrounding area is perfect for students as shopping malls are a 10 minute walk away, and the light rail stop (public transportation) is right outside many of the student apartments, and the bars and clubs are right next to the college.