Joshua - Purdue University

B Engineering/Commerce
Semester 2, 2018
Sometimes the risk can return rewards better than you could have ever dreamed.

Academic experience

I went over to Purdue to enrol in their Chemical engineering program but due to course constraints and timetabling also found myself incorporating an economic based course. To start with, the academic system at Purdue I found to be far more confronting and challenging than the system present at UQ but for a reasons not including difficulty. Personally, I found that the workload and necessity for attendance leant itself towards fostering the need to develop quality time management skills. I would have to say that this variation was welcome and really assisted in my own personal development.

At Purdue I originally undertook five courses including Transport Phenomena, Reactions engineering, Separation Processes, Fitness and Wellbeing and Engineering Economics. Within the first week I realised that the Transport Phenomena course offered was at the graduate level and, frankly, too much of a workload to consider as a possibility which lead to changing into econometrics. The process of enrolment was not an arduous task and was facilitated through the allocation of an academic advisor at Purdue who was a huge help. It did require me to reach out to her but as soon as I did the help provided was immense and the enrolment and timetabling process was made to be a breeze.

During my time I certainly found the time management requirements to be a huge challenge. The coursework for each course was far more extensive in terms of volume. This led to deadlines being frequent and often overlapping which was a struggle initially but as the semester progressed became far more manageable. It certainly presented a challenge but assisted my personal development and was an interesting change of pace.

Personal experience

Personally, the experiences that I was privileged enough to be a part of not only made the trip but have and will have lasting impacts. The places I visited throughout the US, from Manhattan to New Orleans and all the trips in between, offered diverse situations and varied social climates that prompted me to be more reflective as to the human experience. Throughout the trip it was evident that the social climate was quite diverse and volatile and often contributed to interesting conversations. As a person I feel that this trip did develop my character and certainly I am a different person than who I was prior to the start of my journey.

A worry I faced prior to heading to the US was the fear of being alone and the intimidation of immersing myself in a new culture.  Initially, for my travels in the US I was alone but promptly a diverse group of friends emerged from as far as Ireland and Turkey, amongst numerous places, to share my journey with, which eventuated with my final trip to Colorado with my favourite companion. I feel from the things gained by the exchange, the personal development in terms of relationships fostered is what I value most.

Accommodation

One of the things I wanted to immerse myself into during my American exchange was the dorm life. Unfortunately, the conditions I found were not exactly what I imagined but that may possibly be due to my individual circumstances. For the duration of my studies I stayed in a residence hall called Hilltop Apartments where three people shared the same sleeping room, a bathroom, study and small kitchen. Whilst of the residence halls this was a rather sweet gig, I found that it was too much not having my own space after years of living alone. Financially, this solution was less viable than entering a flat mate type environment but in terms of convenience and the development of initial relationships was a decent alternative. If I were to redo my time at Purdue I would choose to enter into a flat mate situation but some of my friends I know would take up the opportunity for dorm life in a heartbeat.

Costs

My trip to Purdue University totalled under 8000 USD$ inclusive of flights. If I were to include costs for travel throughout the US along with additional flights, for personal reasons, I would place the overall costs at just under 11000 USD$. Of the money that went towards my time at Purdue the main costs were inclusive of 5000 USD$ for a meal plan and accommodation, money for flights and additional costs such as spending, injuries and dues for participation in clubs.

Challenge

The trip was not free of adversity and at times was taxing both physically and emotionally. I feel that for me there were two main challenges: the variation of weather between Brisbane/Gold Coast and Indiana and the tearing and straining of my PCL and MCL. Of course there were other compacting factors but I found the way to overcome these challenges, amongst others, was to get off my laurels and try to participate in life. Whilst these challenges were confronting and even immobilizing there were still numerous things I was able to do and numerous people to spend my time with and knowing that and then actively acting upon it was a real help. Challenges were certainly faced but with the right people and mind set I found them to be minor in comparison to how lucky I was to be where I was doing what I was doing.

Professional Development

I think the majority of development that occurred was more on a personal level but that does link itself to professional development. As a person, I feel I have become more diverse and elastic in how I approach problems and discussions. A more in depth understanding of cultural differences between societies and being more open towards travelling and living in new locations opens up more opportunities. I feel the main component that is directly linked to professional development is the building of a network and the establishment of overseas contacts. I think that it will take awhile to fully understand the impact and developments made.

Highlight

The highlight of my time overseas is a challenge to nail down to a singular event. From travels throughout the states, making of new friends and the celebration of events such as New Years, Christmas, Thanksgiving or my 21st , it would feel like an injustice selecting just one. So I’ll just say that no matter what I knew there would be plenty of amazing experiences and, frankly, I severely underestimated how many I would encounter. It was one jolly old time and I wouldn’t take it back for anything.

Top tips

There are only a few major things that I would present or suggest to people considering going on an exchange. Firstly, whether they like the cold and if they are ready to be immersed in it. Secondly, that Purdue is a college town which means that outside of the institution there aren’t as many things to do as there would be at a university located in a major city. Lastly, that people should consider accommodation and whether they would be fine living with the restrictions imparted with dorm room life. I guess that my main recommendation is to really look into the life surrounding studies and to not have a narrow focus.