Harry – University of Florida – USA
Semester 2, 2022
Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
The QUT Student Exchange program gave me an opportunity that can never be replicated. Modern social culture and media influenced me to undertake a student Exchange surrounding the typical college lifestyle. I had visited the United States before, which left me wanting my Exchange destination to be somewhere new. I thought that the University of Florida in Gainesville was a happy medium between my studies and extra-curricular activities. I left for Florida with high expectations that were significantly surpassed. I honestly don’t think I could have had a better Exchange experience.
I stayed in the International Dorm on campus and it only took about 5 minutes after arriving to feel comfortable with my peers. Over the course of the semester, I had established a positive friend group that I am still in contact with and are currently organising a reunion in Brisbane next year (2024). There were around 40 students on each Floor and the International students were matched with American students. The dorm was honestly one of the best parts of my exchange as we often spent time in the shared kitchen chatting and planning nights out or trips to other cities. I suggest future students enrol for on-campus living as I found that students who lived away from campus in apartments were not able to get the same immersive experience I had.
Campus Life and Study
Gainesville, is a proper college town. Nicknamed ‘The Swamp’ after its reputation to host a number of alligators, I found that it was the exact experience I was looking for. Every aspect of the town revolved around the Florida Gators. There was a bowling alley on campus with gators on the screen and walls, a massive merchandise store bigger than any Nike outlet I have ever visited and every student wears their Gators merch. Even off campus, I went to a barber and a golf club where the staff members and customers were representing the Gators.
As a business student I was automatically enrolled in the Global Business Society which met weekly for social activities including beach trips, CV writing, paintball and other various activities. I also attended every football home game and played rugby for the University of Florida team. The Football culture was incredible, the opening game hosted 91,000 Gators fans which was easily the greatest sporting event I have been to in my life. Of course, you cannot forget about the pre-game tailgates hosted by the Fraternities which are a great way to meet people and prepare for the long day/night of football ahead.
In regard to my studies, I had the opportunity to take financial coding classes that I would otherwise not undertake at QUT as it is not in my course structure. All the UF staff members were so helpful with me and understood my needs as an international student. I enjoyed my time at the University of Florida so much that I attempted to extend my stay from one semester to a year, however I did not have enough subjects left for this to be approved. In hindsight, I think this was a good outcome as it now gives me a reason to catch up my international friends and continue our experience that felt like it was cut short.
The University of Florida was so supportive of Exchange students and made sure that we were comfortable and enjoying our time. Events were hosted specifically for Exchange students including a dinner where we were able to meet with the President of the University and collaborate with other international staff members and students.
Travelling Outside of Gainesville
Gainesville is located centrally to a variety of different places that I visited. I made trips to Jacksonville and Tallahassee for away rugby games and attended the famous Talloween (Tallahassee Halloween) experience. I also made my way to Tampa for an ice hockey game, Orlando and all the way down to Naples and Miami for Thanksgiving. It is relatively easy to get around as the majority of my American friends lived in these major cities and offered lifts in exchange for gas (fuel) money.
QUT Exchange Team and Future Exchange Students
Thank you so much to the QUT Exchange team that made this all possible for me. I appreciate everyone who spent their time assisting me, it truly made my exchange a much smoother and better experience.
Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.