Rebecca - University of South Carolina

B Business Management/International Hotel & Tourism Management
Semester 2, 2018

Academic experience

I studied mostly 3rd year business courses on my exchange, and found that USC's academic program runs slightly different to that of UQ. Rather than UQ's contact hours, USC has two one hour lectures twice a week, in classes of about 25-50 students. Enrolling in classes was pretty difficult, and I would definitely recommend getting multiple classes approved as USC give preference to US students over internationals and classes can often become full. I found that the courses I did weren't overly difficult and I found there academic system was quiet easy to follow. Weekly assessment was common and often worth a fair chunk of your grade, but it wasn't very difficult and the professors are very open to helping internationals if need be. As the grade is pass/fail, there isn't a lot of pressure so you can get used to how the American system grades, which is a bit different from UQ.

Personal experience

I personally gained some really strong friendships with both locals and internationals that I know I will have for a long time. I went over with the idea that t I would travel every weekend, however the semester I went in was the American football season, and there was rarely a weekend that there wasn't a game. These games are definitely something you don't want to miss and was a personal highlight of the whole experience for me. Because of this, I did the bulk of my travelling before and after exchange, with two road trips in the mid-semester breaks to Charleston (a beach town 2 hours outside of Columbia), which were amazing and is a place I recommend going if you have a chance. I don't regret not travelling every weekend, as had some of the best experience of exchange while I was tailgating and at the football games.

Accommodation

As international students, USC required us to live on campus and organising all of this for us. They do ask what your preferential living situation is, either apartment-style or suite-style, and I would definitely recommend opting for apartment style. I was lucky enough to score and apartment on campus, in the central campus building 'Woodrow', and found that having the freedom and privacy of your own room was exactly what I needed. Having an apartment means you have your own kitchen that you share with you roommates, rather than sharing a kitchen with an entire floor, which is what happens when you have a suite. I opted to cook my own food rather than buy a meal plan, which I personally found was the cheaper and healthier option, and was made significant easier with an apartment.

Costs

After reading some of these testimonials, I was prepared for the costs of college life, however found that travel was a bit more expensive than I thought. for all of the college expenses, I found that the recommended US$16000 was the right amount, however I saved about AUD$22,000 as I travelled for a month after  and a bit before, and felt that this was the perfect amount as I still came back with some money left. Week to week, I spend probably about $80 a week on food and drinks, and a bit more  on Uber (however, Uber in the US is a lot cheaper than here). Moving in expenses were a lot a bit of a cost, as you need to purchase bed sheets, kitchen appliances etc.

Additionally, the insurance that UQ provides wasn't enough coverage for USC, so I ended up having to buy the insurance they provide (US$800 for the semester) which was an expense I was expecting to have. In saying that, I don't recommend buying your own insurance with a company for that time while you're at college as you may have to additionally buy their's as well, because they have strict rules around what policies need to be included in the insurance plan, and not a lot of current plans out there include them (extra money you don't need to spend)

Challenge

I really didn't find many challenges in my college experience. If I had to pick one, it would be the moving in, however USC really does try to help with this by providing a frequent bus to Walmart the first for weeks.

Professional Development

Exchange really helped me with my development of independence, as I planned the whole trip myself, and had to travel a time alone. From this experience I feel that I am ready for the new and uncharted territory that my future career may bring.

Highlight

The highlight for me would be both the American and International friends I made while I was there, as well as the American football games. There really is no experience quite like it, and I know I will cherish those friendships forever.

Top tips

My top tips would be to save as much as you can so you can have the freedom to do any and all the travel you would like, and throw yourself into every experience and opportunity that comes your way.