The American College Experience

Bridgette V., Bachelor of Journalism / Law (Honours)
San Jose State University, United States (Semester 2, 2017)

Host University

Life on campus at San Jose State University (SJSU) was a fantastic experience. While the on-campus accommodation was very expensive, like anything in Silicon Valley, the student apartments were very well arranged and provided a great atmosphere to meet fellow exchange and domestic students. The resident facilities gave us lots of opportunities to meet new people and attend events, especially at the start of semester.

SJSU provided a great American college experience. During my time on exchange, I got to attend many sporting events, pep-rallies and tailgates and other school based events which allowed me to get involved in the SJSU spirit. As I don’t live on campus at home, it was great to see how many opportunities there were to become involved.

Academics at San Jose were very different to that back at home. We had at least one piece of assessment every week throughout my exchange. However, each piece of assessment was not weighed as heavily as they are at QUT. For instance, for one subject, we had five quizzes throughout the course of the semester, each worth 10-15%. While it was frustrating at times having constant assessment, it helped me to stay on top of the content and reduced the stress at the end of semester. The mid-terms and finals at SJSU also only assessed parts of the course we had learnt since the last piece of assessment. This lack of cumulative assessment made it easier to revise and prepare.

Host Country

The lifestyle in America was very similar to that in Australia. While the stereotype typically depicts Americans as less friendly than their Canadian neighbours, I didn’t find this to be true. They were always willing to go out of their way to help you and to show you around. Everyone was very hospitable and welcoming. The only main difference was tipping and the exclusion of tax in the advertised prices.

Highlights of exchange

I thoroughly enjoyed my time on exchange and would recommend study abroad as something everyone should undertake during their degree. It is a fantastic way to meet new people and explore new places while also gaining credit towards your degree. My main highlight was meeting and spending time with all the new people I met. While San Jose was a great place to explore, it was the people that I met along the way that definitely made my trip. The things we did, places we saw and things we experienced will be memories I cherish forever.

Things I didn’t expect

I was surprised by the number of international students I became friends with. Initially, I assumed I would become friends with mainly American students. However, understandably, they spend a lot of time studying and working, as I would do back at home. The international students on the other hand were all there with similar goals and attitudes. As such, we were all keen to explore and try new things and so we often grouped together to adventure around the place.

Tips and advice

My main tip would be to enter exchange with an open mind. Being open to new experiences allows you to do things and meet people you would never have expected to. Don’t be afraid to try new things and be ready to go with the flow. Often exchange is a waiting game, so be patient and be assured that it will all work out in the end.

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