Outside My Comfort Zone in California, America

Teahna – California State University – America

Semester 1, 2023

Bachelor of Business – International

Taking part in this exchange program has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my life to date. I was meant to undergo this experience a year and a half ago, however, COVID-19 halted my plans. Surprisingly, I am quite glad that my exchange was delayed because otherwise, I never would have ended up where I went. In my final decision, I chose to study at California State University for one semester, undertaking communication units to build on my QUT marketing major.

My first steps outside comfort zone

I was the only student from QUT going to study in California for the semester. Knowing nobody, the thought of going to a whole new country was terrifying. I have had my fair share of international travels, primarily around Europe. However, this was my first solo adventure. I have never even moved houses before, so moving to a whole new country was a massive step outside of my comfort zone. In the month leading up to my departure, I had days where I was extremely excited and days where I was nervous and second-guessing everything. All of a sudden, I was on the plane to LA and then it was very real. I remember in my first few days I felt so confused and lost, thinking what am I going to do?

Starting my experience with amazing friends

My worries calmed quickly as I started meeting people. I lived on campus due to its ease and convenience and being surrounded by other students. The first people I met were my roommates, who are still great friends of mine to this day. I am grateful to have lived with them. I’m sure we have all heard horror stories of roommates online, so I was very nervous about how this was going to go as I have never lived with anyone but my family. I am glad to say that we never had any conflicts and were all very respectful of one another. We bonded over having our bachelor watch nights and they were always happy to support me and take me out anywhere, especially since having no car and relying on public transport was a mission in LA.

Then I met the other exchange students. There were three of us who arrived in January and six remaining from the semester before. They were quick to introduce themselves and made us newbies feel welcomed and comforted instantly. As exchange students, we all wanted the same thing, which made it very easy for us all to get along and make plans. We experienced so much together, from weekend trips away in California to walking to In-n-Out to get a burger and having a movie night in someone’s apartment. There were moments where we would get homesick, but we were always there to support one another as we all understood the feeling. Not only did I learn a lot about American culture, but I learned so much about all of theirs, and I’m glad to say that I taught them a lot about Australian culture (mainly our slang). I am happy to say that I will forever be close with these people and will absolutely be planning group trips with them in the future.

Enjoying the beauty of LA

I managed to fit so much into this one semester of exchange. I never realised how big LA was, there is so much to do there that you can never get bored. Some of my favourite spots in LA are the beach cities, Beverly Hills, and the Griffith Observatory. Being 21 years old I got the chance to experience the nightlife in LA which was super fun, West Hollywood is the place to go. I also went to a frat party, which was unfortunately not like the movies but still a great experience nonetheless. As a music lover I of course had to go to Coachella, which was one of my highlights. By the end of the semester I visited most of California, one of my favourite areas was probably Palm Springs, it was such a lovely getaway from the city. I was also lucky enough to go to Las Vegas and New York, both of these locations being so unique and beautiful.

I cannot recommend exchange enough for anyone who has the chance to do it. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will always look back on and cherish. You meet amazing people and make unforgettable memories. One of the sayings that I now live by is that money will always come and go, but memories will last a lifetime. You have nothing to lose, so just do it!


Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.

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