Making Friends for Life

Heidi F., Bachelor of Education (Secondary)
State University of New York, USA (Semester 1, 2016)

Studying at State University of New York

University

I loved studying at SUNY. It was such a different experience to anything that I had been used to previously. It was awesome to be living on a campus where it was snowing almost every day, so much so that we sometimes had snow days where university would be cancelled for the day (where we then went out sledding behind our dorms). Not to mention the time when I ran out into the snow in my bikini! (Just to say I had done it). The university as a whole was all quite expensive but worth it I think. The meal plan was compulsory (and super expensive!!) but I’m glad I had it as it made everything a lot easier. It was a lot of fun having an ice skating rink on campus as we did that quite a bit as well as watched a lot of ice hockey matches which I loved. I joined a lot of sporting groups and I also did a lot of on campus activities which kept me busy. They were a lot of fun! Academics wise – it was quite easy compared to QUT. It surprised me how much easier it was than what I was used to but it was good as I was able to get pretty good marks without placing much stress on myself.

 

America

It blew me away how bad the currency exchange rate was. I lost a lot of money when I exchanged my AUD dollars to the US currency. It was super sad seeing how many thousands of dollars I was losing but I just kept telling myself that it was all going to be worth it! And it totally was. One I travelled quite a bit to New York City as well as around New York State and up to the Thousand Islands. At the end of my uni semester, I also flew across to California and spent quite a lot of time there. It was exciting to get some sunshine and beaches there after such a long time without! One thing about America that was a little tricky was the ability to adjust to the different foods. I often found myself feeling a little sick as I wasn’t used to it. After a while my body adjusted I think, and I was feeling a lot better.

 

Highlights

There were so many highlights, obviously. I had a great time experiencing new things such as skiing and snowboarding as well as getting into new sports like ice hockey and American football. The ‘touristy’ things were also a blast such as the Statue of Liberty, Hollywood sign, Hollywood boulevard, Santa Monica Pier etc. I did and saw so many things! Looking back on it all though, I definitely think one of the best things about my exchange was just living on campus and meeting so many amazing people. I have now made friends for life and so many of these guys are already heading over this way soon!

Campus Life in America

Novita.R, Bachelor of Business
Illinois University of Technology, USA (Semester 1, 2016)

 

Campus and facilities

             

  • My favourite building is called MTCC. It is a big building that has cafes, dining area, study/conference rooms, Starbucks, Bookstore and the Students Support office.
  • In MTCC, every fortnight has a music night. Good place to make new friends.
  • Library is 24 hours only on weekdays.
  • Has a late-night car service for dropping students who live nearby campus.
  • Has a 24-hour seven eleven just next to dorms.
  • Post office is located in MTCC whereby it is a very centralised spot.
    • Good for those online-shoppers (e.g. AMAZON)
  • The campus is just next to Chinatown.
  • Red line train operates 24 hours and it is only 10 mins walking from the campus.

 

Accommodation

For exchange students, it is compulsory to live on-campus.

  • All the residence halls are generally shared-rooms basis.
  • Residence Halls: SSV, MSV, Carman and Gunsaulus

 

SSV MSV Carman Gunsaulus
·         The most expensive housing hall.

·         Approx. US$4,590/sem

·         Not eligible for housing scholarship.

·         Next to the bus stop and train station (1-2 mins walk)

·         For undergraduate and graduate students

·         I lived here

·         Eligible for housing scholarship (US$1,500/sem)

·         Housing rate US$3,000/sem

·         Walking distance to:

·         Bus stop 2 mins

·         Train station 6-7 mins

·         For undergraduate and graduate students

·         For undergraduate and graduate students above 23 years old, also for students with children

·         Very quiet dorm

·         Spacious room (incl. bathroom and small kitchen)

·         Located next to MSV

·         Eligible for housing scholarship (US$1,500/sem)

·         Housing rate (US$3,692)

 

Academics

  • IIT is very well known with its Engineer School.
    • FYI: First phone Motorola was created by IIT Alumni.
  • The classes tend to be smaller than QUT.
    • Attendance was compulsory. So it was easy to make friends in the class.
  • They call the lecturer by Professor followed by their name.

Cost of Living

  • The cost of living is similar to Brisbane.
  • The transportation is paid altogether prior to semester begins. So during the semester you can just tap whenever you want.
    • Students: US$175 for the U-PASS (e.g. like GoCard) and valid for 4 months.
    • Non-students: $2.25/travel (bus and train) regardless the distance.
    • A one-off tap (e.g. hop on only) unlike Brisbane.
  • Meal plan is organised by the University.
    • For on-campus students it is compulsory to have (depends on your degree level)
    • Buffet system.

Cultural Aspects

  • People do go for Starbucks. It is everywhere in Chicago.
  • Multicultural
  • Free Wi-Fi is almost in everywhere: Shopping centres, Cafes.
  • Majority of people study in the Cafes.
  • Use “What’s up” for a greeting.

 

Highlight of the Exchange

  • Traveling around United States:
    • West coast road trip
    • Did the Route 66
    • New Year’s eve in New York
    • Spring break in Miami
  • Strong friendships that will last forever with people from:
    • Germany, India, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, France, USA, Africa.

Tips and Advice

  1. Use the Travel Card from Commonwealth Bank (this is would be my first top advice!)
  2. Ensure you get the Health Insurance from your host Institution
    • Beforehand I used to think that it was very unnecessary, however, I went to Hospital, a week after my semester ended. It was very unexpected. I paid the insurance around US$800 and it covered my expenses for about US$3,000.
  3. Ensure you that the unit that you would be taking overseas is not a non-credit in order to prevent any issues when returning home for credit transfers. Be really careful with units that you’ll be undertaking, do regularly check with QUT.
  4. Be mindful of job opportunities around your host campus by talking with one of the staff.
  5. Become the member of Sorority or Fraternity!
    • Great ways to make friends and to experience the American college life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living, Studying and Travelling in Minnesota!

Ciara W., Bachelor of Business
University of Minnesota, USA (Semester 1, 2016)

Yosemite National Park

I chose the University of Minnesota as my exchange location for semester 1, 2016 and loved every single second I spent there. I had always wanted to experience college in America and due to the excellent reputation of the Carlson School of Management, the University of Minnesota seemed an obvious choice. Luckily for me, Minnesota was experiencing a very mild winter, so the day I arrived it was a ‘warm’ -1c. As January progressed, however, the temperatures dropped significantly, averaging about -16c to -30c. The cold was something I had never felt before, and I found a lot of my winter gear (such as gloves) just weren’t cutting it.

CSOM in a snow storm

The campus itself was huge! Everything you could want was on campus and accessible by the free shuttles that run around East Bank and West Bank (the campus is separated by the Mississippi River). There was a massive gym equipped with three floors of apparatus and 2 swimming pools that was free for students to use. Additionally, there was a campus town on East Bank called ‘Dinky Town’ where all the student bars/restaurants were situated. This was where the small Target grocery store was situated, which was handy to pick up snacks/fruit and even bedding and toiletries.

Campus in spring

My dorm room in Middlebrook Hall

During my exchange, I stayed in a dorm as it seemed like the more convenient choice. Middlebrook Hall was a stone’s throw away from Carlson which was a luxury when the snow hit hard. I shared a room with an American student, Amelia. During my stay and we became incredibly close. We were very similar, close in age and got on so well so I was really happy with my choice of a double room. Our room was situated on the ‘Students Crossing Borders’ floor, which meant I was able to meet so many students from all over the world and form close friendships with them. Living with such amazing and fun people was definitely one of the highlights of my time spent overseas. While in the dorm, I chose a 14 meal p/w plan, which could be used in any dining hall throughout campus (which we unfortunately figured out halfway through the semester). While Middlebrook served okay food, 17th dining hall definitely won in terms of fresher and healthier choices!

 

I felt the cost of living was reasonable in Minnesota, however the exchange rate was terrible when I went so this cut my money down significantly. I found the food plan to be quite expensive in terms of the choices, and would have probably opted for the smaller meal plan if I knew how much I would have eaten out. The cost of the accommodation was fair, as there were much more expensive choices (such as University Village) that provided only little improvements.

My Closest international friend and I in the Grand Canyon

During my stay, I was able to explore New York for a weekend, Orlando and Miami for spring break, as well as LA, Joshua Tree, Lake Havisu, Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite and San Francisco after my exchange ended. I was able to experience incredible hockey games (seriously amazing!), play in both a broomball (like ice hockey but just with running shoes – dangerous stuff!) and dodge ball team with other exchange students and broaden my network worldwide I made so many amazing friends and I found it incredibly hard to leave. Going on exchange was the highlight of my degree and I learnt so much about myself and other cultures. I loved it so much that I will be heading back at the end of the year to visit!

San Francisco

 

Time on Exchange in South Carolina

James H., Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Laws
University of South Carolina, USA (Semester 2, 2018)

I picked the University of South Carolina as my exchange destination, mostly based on reports from previous exchange students and because it was a place I had never dreamed of going to in America. It ended up being a life changing experience that I will never forget.

When I first got to USC next to none of the domestic students had arrived on campus, so we took a few days to explore and get to know where we would be living for the next semester. The campus itself is incredibly picturesque, especially the ‘Horseshoe’ with its huge oak trees, lush green grass and all the classic American college buildings surrounding it. The facilities on campus were incredible with two huge fitness centres (pools, gyms, basketball and squash courts, a sauna, a rock climbing wall all inside) that are accessible for all students. Notably, the football stadium (Williams-Brice Stadium) can fit over 80,000 attendees and every game that I went to attempted to fill all of the seats with an atmosphere that was next to none – especially with the school song ‘Darude – Sandstorm’ playing at every point scored accompanied by fireworks.

On Campus Gardens

I lived in Cliff Apartments which was apartment style living shared between 4 students. We were all exchange students and I shared a room with a student from the Netherlands with whom I quickly became lifelong friends. Although we had a kitchen with a stove, oven and fridge I utilised the college meal plan, mostly because of the ease of just heading to the diner for any meal of the day, although you do end up missing a home cooked meal! The campus does have countless restaurants to eat at, although we were regulars at ‘Bates Diner’ as it was a 5-minute walk from our accommodation.

I think one of the biggest highlights from my college experience was definitely the football games. The atmosphere at the games has no rival and I particularly loved the passion that all the Americans have for the game and their team. It was always amazing to see the lengths that the school goes to show their support including the mascot (Cocky), the band and cheer-squad. It was particularly beneficial for students as we got free tickets based on a points system – the more school support you showed the better seats you got – that meant attending all the other sporting events like soccer and volleyball and really getting into the school spirit. The tailgating of the games was another highlight as it was such a great opportunity to explore the social side of campus and meet lots of students outside of college life.

Unreal Atmosphere at Williams-Brice Stadium

America was great to travel to as there are so many further travel opportunities to explore while you are there. I highly recommend budgeting some extra money to explore some places nearby, for example I traveled to Connecticut, Colorado, New York, Texas and did a bus tour through all of the Southwest States at the end of my trip. There are so many opportunities you wouldn’t want to miss while you are over there, and I definitely recommend saying yes to them all!

Overall, exchange was undoubtedly an unforgettable experience and I could not recommend it enough. I met so many lifelong friends and really got out of my comfort zone which seems daunting at first but ends up being incredibly rewarding. I can’t wait to go back and visit the friends I made. Go Cocks!!!

Frosh Week at Bishop’s University

My semester at Bishop’s University is now well under way and I couldn’t be happier about it!

field dayIt all began with Move-In Day where I was greeted by friendly students, happy to help carry my bags to the top floor of the residence building where I’m living. Here I have a room to myself which comes with a single bed, dresser, desk, chair, bedside table, closet, and sink, as well as a bathroom that I share with my roommate next door.

first football gameAfter moving in, the university organised some events and activities to get to know the other students. Here I met group of friends who I spent the rest of the day with which meant going to the first football game of the season (or in my case, my first Canadian football game ever), then hanging out in one of the apartment style residences, before heading out to a party in a house occupied by a group of upper year students.

The following day marked the beginning of O-Week also known here as Frosh Week. This meant choosing our teams for the week. At Bishop’s this was not just a spontaneous decision. We’d been introduced to the different teams and leaders over social media in the weeks leading up. We were then encouraged to speak to every team before making a decision to join the one that best suited what we wanted to get out of Frosh Week. Every team had a name which combined the theme of the week (School of Rock) with the university. The team I chose was ‘Rich Homie Gaiters’ (the students and sports teams here are called ‘Gaiters’), and I’m so glad I did! I had an absolute ball with this team, made some great friends and met some incredible people.

field day team photoOnce the teams were picked, Bishop’s didn’t slow down the whole week. The week consisted of opening and closing ceremonies, parties every night, crazy challenges to win points for your teams, concerts, a scavenger hunt across town, a glow-in-the-dark run, a dance battle, singing the school song to the principle outside his house one night, seminars, panels, tours, movie night, play auditions, games and much more!

massawippi shoreAs if there wasn’t enough excitement already, I got to celebrate my birthday during Frosh Week! Before coming to Bishop’s I expected that with having just moved to a new country, I wouldn’t scavenger huntknow anyone well enough to properly celebrate it this year. However, I was so wrong. My lovely new group of friends decided to surprise me with a personalised cake they had made that day, and I was sung ‘Happy Birthday’ to by the entire Frosh Week student body, before we partied on that night.

Frosh Week has been one of the most fun-filled weeks of my life and even though it’s now over, my life at Bishop’s is just beginning.remember how you entered