Torri - University of Texas at Austin

B Engineering (Honours)
Semester 2, 2022


I wanted to go away for university and experience another university culture. I chose to go to the U.S. for exchange as I feel that the college culture there is something you can only experience when you are going to university, along with all the sports games. I believe that studying in America enhanced my experience of the country.

Personal development

I gained lots of new friends from this experience from all over the world. Specifically I made lots of friends from the UK and other parts of Australia as we all had a very similar sense of humor and grounds to get along on. I will definitely be visiting these friends in the future. Throughout this experience I definitely gained lots of independence very quickly; having to make a new set of friends and adjust to a new university environment pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to take initiative alone.

Academic development

I found the course content to be very similar to courses as UQ, I believe this is because engineering courses are very global and do not have location specific topics. The assessment I found to be different than UQ, at UQ in my courses we have a few assignments and a major exam at the end of the semester, whereas in Texas we had small assignments and 3 smaller exams per class. I found the workload to be a lot lighter in Texas as the smaller assignments don't pile up as easily and I found it more reasonable to keep up with course work.

Professional development

I believe that I have developed my people skills through this experience, having been surrounded by people from multiple backgrounds I have become accustomed to making friends with people on multiple different grounds. Making friends and doing course work with people who aren't Australian definitely posed a few challenges with communication and finding things in common, but eventually, I found it became easier to get to know people by first asking them questions and getting to know them. I believe this is a valuable skill and will benefit me during my professional career.


In order to budget throughout the semester, I used the following techniques: eating at home as much as possible, walking places when possible, avoiding booking flights over the weekend, booking travel ahead of time, sharing accommodation and finding accommodation with free breakfast while traveling, having dinner parties at home rather than going out, buying second hand school books, cooking meals with my roommates, buying frozen vegetables, thrift shopping over buying new clothes. I ended up spending roughly $15 000:

  • My accommodation was about $9000 (I was able to get a short term lease)
  • Phone bill was $40 a month
  • Utilities were $40 a month
  • Spent about $60 on groceries a week
  • Travelled to 4 cities during the semester, with flights around $300 round trip each time


The help loan I received I put towards my accommodation which was a bedroom in a 5 bedroom apartment in "West Campus" in Austin. The grant I put towards utilities, phone bills, doctor visits, and university fees (such as health care). This loan made a big difference and definitely allowed me to spend some of my own money on traveling more which I was very grateful for.


Finding accommodation in Austin was very difficult as the city has become very popular and expensive. The majority of students in Austin live in "west campus", a suburb right beside campus where there are lots of apartment buildings. Finding an available apartment was the most challenging part for me, as UQ told us to hold out looking for accommodation until we had our full approval, by that point most apartments were full. Additionally, we wanted to find somewhere that allowed a short term lease. Eventually we found a 5 bedroom apartment and we were placed with 3 other roommates, one exchange student from the Gold Coast and 2 Americans. The university did not provide much assistance to us and so I would advise future students to begin looking at accommodation even before you have full approval so you are ready to sign the lease as soon as possible.


The highlight of my experience was  going to my American roommates house in Los Angeles for thanksgiving. Myself and 3 friends went and stayed with him for a week and this was so much fun, we road-tripped up the beach and then stayed at their house and had a really nice family lunch.

Advice/Top tips

My top pieces of advice would be:

  • Make friends in your classes as soon as possible
  • Go to all exchange student events in the first week (you will make lots of friends here)
  • Get the contact info of anyone you meet so you can message them to meet up
  • Go to all the sports games (if you are in the U.S.)
  • Travel lots