Ellen - Texas A&M University

B Equine Science
Semester 1, 2019
Take advantage of every opportunity. You only go on exchange once!!!

Academic experience

During my semester at A&M, I undertook 6 courses majority were courses in the animal science department. The academic system was completely different to what I was used to, lectures were compulsory, and attendance was taken in all courses if you missed more then 2 without official explanation you would receive an F in that class. Lectures were also a lot more interactive with class discussions and most professors also did not accept mobile phones or laptops. Majority of my academic challenges related to the assessments, as each course was different, however, most of my courses consisted of 3 or 4 exams with one assignment. But due to the interactive classes, I found it helped me study for the exams so then the exams weren’t that challenging and there was a lot less content in the exams compared to just having one final exam. 
The enrolment process was quite difficult due to courses having number restrictions and trying to get approval from both universities. I would recommend having multiple options for courses that you can gain credit for and being flexible with courses you would like to enrol in. However, the advisors at Texas A&M were very helpful when I was enrolling and helped me through the whole process even after I had arrived and still had some course and enrolment issues. I was not fully enrolled in my courses until after I arrived and had a meeting with my advisor so be prepared for this to happen!!

Personal experience

Personally, I gained a lot from going on exchange. The friendships you make and the opportunities you gain are amazing. I learnt not only a lot about American culture but also a lot about many other countries like New Zealand, Singapore, Germany, Finland, Mexico, France, Denmark, Sweden and Hong Kong. I found that being in another country on the other side of the world you develop a lot of independent and growth from that.

I also gained a lot of weight… the freshman 15lbs is a thing and eating chickfila and papa johns every day will do it to you… but the gym is included in your fees, BONUS!


I lived on campus which meant sharing a room with one other girl and a bathroom with 3 other girls. I was quite lucky my roommate was a domestic student and so was one of my suitemates, they both lived in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area and my other suitemate was another exchange student from Hong Kong. To start off with my roommate and I were really nervous, and it took some time before we became quite comfortable with each other however it was super hard to leave her, and we still talk nearly every day after being home. 
On-campus there was a housing option called the global living and learning community, this consisted of housing most of the exchange students on one floor of one of the dorms to pair them up with domestic students. This option was amazing as it allowed you to meet the majority of the other exchange student that choose this option. I would recommend living on campus and in the GLLC which was in Keathley Hall. 
The College Station campus is so big that half the time you don’t even feel like you live on campus. The bus runs to most major shopping malls and everything is in walking proximity (the bus cost is included in your fees). However, if you were looking to live off-campus, I would recommend living along University drive or near there as it runs alongside the University and you are still quite close, but definitely look into the location as relying on people driving you can become difficult. I would also consist what side of campus most of your classes are, the majority of mine were on the west side of campus and a 2-minute walk from my room.


My flights were quite expensive as I left it very late before purchasing them. Living on campus the prices vary a lot depending on which option you pick. Mine was one roughly $2,500 USD which I paid before the semester started. I also pre-bought a meal plan which made thing much easier, you could use your meals at the dining hall and any food place on campus that did meal trades and you also have dining dollars which are like money that you can use at most places including Starbucks! Mine had roughly 125 meals and $300 dining dollars and was around $1250 USD. Other than that, my phone plane was quite cheap for 6 months with 8Gb of data a month and was roughly $150 USD. We travelled quite often which involved renting a car/ accommodation and food, and went to Mexico for SPRING BREAK and budgeted roughly $10,000USD for the whole six months. I didn’t go over this while I was at university but when my partner came over in my last 3 weeks we travelled across American from California, Vegas, Colorado and Florida, we spent roughly 5,000USD each for flights, accommodation, renting cars, food, gifts etc. I would suggest aiming to save around 15,000USD to be comfortable.


The biggest challenge I faced was getting approval for my courses and having contact with UQ. My courses were approved from UQ prior to going over however was not complete with Texas A&M till I arrived in America and ensured that each course was running and had room for me. This was a big issue as a couple of my courses had to get changed over and I really struggled to get advice from UQ whilst this was happening due to delay in emails and time conversion. Therefore, I decided on my course with my A&M advisor and went with it, enrolled in courses before hearing back from UQ due to enrolment closing and hoped it would be approved. However, I didn’t get final approve till, after spring break, this was a very stressful time, and I ended up calling UQ abroad advisors to find out what I should be doing and when I would hear back from my faculty and this really helped, Clare, did an amazing job dealing with stressed me in America!

Professional Development

Exchange taught me how to communicate and helped me develop networking skills with students and professors. One of the classes I took was an industry class which meant we had industry professionals presenting each week, this class really told me how to connect and communicate with further employers. Prior to leaving Australia, I thought I had a lot of independence and didn’t think that it would be something I would develop more or struggle with however when you’re in a country on the other side of the world and 16 hours behind your home country you learn how to cope and do a lot by yourself.


The major highlight was being in Texas and going to A&M. However, another highlight was the people I meet and the places I got to see. America is huge but I so thankful I got to experience the places I did with the people I did. Living and travelling with people you only just meet is character building but an experience I loved and would do over and over if I could. Also definitely make sure you visit Hurricane Harrys on a Thursday night so you see how every A&M student knows how to line dance.

Top tips

Have plenty of options for courses in case something happens, I ended up picking a yoga course as an elective/ filler 1 credit course but that was not on my list prior to going over. Make the most of your exchange and the people you are there with because at the end of the day they are the only ones that really understand what exchange is like when you return home. The university has so many events on, and associations try and go to them or join a few it’s a get way to network. The same with your lectures, at your first lecture, make a point of introducing yourself to your lecturers and your fellow students they are so willing to help and make the transition much easier. They also are a good point of contact for the future.

Also, practice saying HOWDY as a greeting, Gig'me for good luck and ma'am and sir.