Choosing a university First impressions New York State Student exchange Tips for surviving uni

An American Experience


I chose Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) purely because it was the closest school to NYC that QUT had a partnership with, I also got rejected from my first two preferences and was told I had a good chance of getting accepted at RPI. When I arrived at the school I was just so excited, the school isn’t as big as the state schools in the US but compared to Australian universities it was huge and beautiful. The grounds were so well maintained and the buildings were big and beautiful. RPI is a top private Engineering school so a lot of work is put into keeping the school looking respectful.


RPI was in a city called Troy which is located in Upstate New York, about 2 hours from NYC. The city itself is located on the Hudson River but isn’t that great, there is not a lot to do and it can be quite dangerous at times as it has low socioeconomic status. RPI campus is safe though, I never had any issues on campus. I loved studying in the US, the college experience is just so different to Australia with the fraternities and sororities. Most people live on campus so it’s basically like living with all your friends 24/7, if you’re not in class you’re at the student union hanging out with everyone. I also had a lot of places in the US that I wanted to visit, NYC being one of them so I loved that I could travel and see all these places I’ve only ever dreamt of seeing.

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I stayed in Blitman Commons sharing with another girl. It is the newest building on campus, it used to be a Holiday Inn. It is very modern and my room was a good size, we had our own bathroom which most of the other dorms don’t have. I loved Blitman but I found it was a bit far from the rest of campus, it is right down the hill near downtown Troy, so whenever I had class or was meeting friends up on campus I had quite a walk to do. I didn’t mind as it was basically the only exercise I got over there but it didn’t get annoying sometimes at night or when it was freezing cold. Blitman has everything you need, it’s four stories and each level has a big laundry with plenty of washers and dryers, it has its own dining hall and its own big study room with a heap of tables, chairs, lounges and televisions.

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During my exchange I just studied four random subjects as RPI didn’t offer too many that were relevant to Media and Communications. I did Visual Literacy, Character and Story For Games, User-Centred Design and Advertising and Culture. I enjoyed most of them, I found them really easy as the school is so focused on Science and Engineering that they kind of neglect to challenge anyone doing other subjects. Wasn’t complaining though as it gave me more time to do fun things. It was all in English so I had no issues learning the curriculum.  


As stated previously, RPI is well known for its Engineering. It is number 4 in the United States for Engineering and is extremely expensive. A years tuition is more expensive than a year at Harvard. I never understood how but it is a highly regarded school. I met a lot of people who had offers from schools like Harvard and Stanford but turned them down for RPI because it is so highly respected for Engineering.

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