John - University of Wisconsin-Madison

B Commerce/Arts
Semester 1, 2019

Academic experience

I attended UW-Madison on exchange for Semester 2, 2018 and Semester 1, 2019. The first semester I took 5 classes and 18 credits which was more than required for the full-time study load. I took two classes toward my major in international relations as well as one class toward my major in finance and two elective courses. The second semester I took four classes and 15 credits. Two of them were toward my international relations major and the other two were electives. The level of difficulty of classes is relatively similar to that at UQ, however, there are significantly more assignments you are given to make up your final grade, which means while the finals are worth less, there is a lot more homework that has to be done compared to at UQ. I also found that taking 18 credits was probably too many so I would recommend taking around 15 credits instead.

Personal experience

Going on exchange at UW-Madison was one of the best experiences of my life. The American students were extremely welcoming as well as the foreign and exchange students and I have come away from the experience with amazing friendships with people from all over the world that will last a lifetime. I was able to travel around with them throughout the Midwest and really explore what it has to offer. Madison is an amazing place and if you want a stereotypically American college experience this is about as good as it gets. Honestly, this place blew my expectations away and I would completely recommend choosing the University of Wisconsin - Madison for exchange.


I lived in Ogg Residence Hall which is one of the southeast residence halls on campus. The campus is basically set up with two areas of residence halls: southeast and lakeshore. If you are someone that is social and outgoing, I would recommend living in one of the southeast residence halls such as Ogg. If you are more quiet and want a more picturesque part of campus, I would live in lakeshore. I loved the experience living in southeast and became really good friends with my roommate as well as many of the people that lived in Ogg. It was very convenient since all of my classes were within a 10-15 minute walk from there. It is also closer to State Street than lakeshore which is where many of the restaurants and the nightlife is.


Compared to many of the other schools I looked at for exchange, UW-Madison was definitely on the cheaper side. University housing was my biggest expense and I would definitely recommend getting one of the meal plans as they were super helpful in keeping my food costs down. You can use the money and any of the dining halls and union restaurants on campus, as well as the on campus badgers markets which sell snacks as well as food. Eating out and going out to bars was relatively cheap compared to Australia but you definitely factor in that you are going to spend a decent amount of money doing those kinds of things. The exchange rate is extremely important to pay attention to as it can significantly affect how much money you have to do things. You should try to save plenty of money to go on exchange in case you decide that you want to travel around Wisconsin and the US as well as having it to give yourself as much chance to have the best experience that you can.


My biggest challenge was getting used to being in this new environment and balancing all the different things you are able to do in Madison with succeeding academically. I found that the best way to overcome this was to make friends with the local students and taking advantage of the resources that are provided to you by UW. Make the place feel like home and you will really be able to thrive.

Professional Development

The University of Wisconsin - Madison is a very highly regarded university so I would expect that having been on exchange there can only help. Getting exposed to different cultures and experiences will definitely be something I will be able to use to help me succeed now and later in life.


Waking up on a Saturday morning to get dressed up in red and white and support the Wisconsin Badgers football team with 80,000 other people at Camp Randall Stadium was inarguably the best experience that I had. You get to stand up chanting and singing while hopefully getting to watch a Badgers win. Although I understand American football, I had some other friends on exchange that did not and they still had an amazing experience at the games.

Top tips

Definitely go on exchange
Buy season tickets for football - you will regret it if you do not make it to at least a few games
Make friends with the students that go there - they make it much easier to get to know the place and get the most out of your experience
Save as much money as you can to allow yourself to do things you were not even planning on
Work hard, but also play hard and make sure to have a good time and live in the moment