Joseph - Purdue University

B Engineering (honours) / Science
Semester 2, 2022


Exploring university life in America and its tertiary education system.

Personal Development

Going in head-first to a foreign country in an upside-down time zone for half a year with no contacts triggered my anxiety. Making new friends has never been my strong suit, so I was slightly worried about being alone while there. Luckily, I was able to find a group of like-minded individuals during O-week (A group of other exchange students lol). I wanted to get closer to them; form a stronger bond. The group of us made plans from the get-go (from eating together to a trip to Chicago together) and I made time to participate. We learned about each other's cultures and admired each other's accents. Eventually, near the end of the semester, we drifted into our own groups within the groups depending on our interests. This was bound to happen, though. We all hung out together at the start because we all had something in common -- being a foreigner in a foreign country, The Spaniards and Latinos/as, the gym-goers, etc. Find people with similar interests. You'll probably like each other enough to become friends. I saw this happen in real time. I now know. It's real.

Academic Development

First of all, this experience made me cherish UQ's way of teaching. In my personal opinion, we have it easy at UQ. There isn't much to praise since I (quite frankly) despise the American university education system. From the weekly homework to non-accessible lecture notes, this was like re-learning how to do uni. American universities tend to operate in the complete opposite way as in Australia -- They give out homework every week and they all count towards your final grades. There could also be up to 3 mid-sems. As a result, their final exam is worth much less overall (in comparison). The difference hit me hard, face-first since I am (somewhat) forced to study every week. It's frustrating to forget about a homework piece and then lose 1-2% of your grade or sleep in the one day there's an in-class quiz that you can't retake. I had to grab whatever discipline was remaining in me from high school and plug it in here. My daily routine had more structure during my time at Purdue. The grass is NOT always greener on the other side. Cherish what you have. The alternative may not always be better. I have to say, however, that their extensive use of MATLAB is integrated into many Engineering courses, which aid in adding another skill to your resume. The MATLAB problems come up quite often in the homework as well so you should get plenty of practice with it. I certainly did. AAE364:METR4201 -||- AAE421:Adv Elec -||- CS251:COMP3506 -||- AAE334:MECH3400

Professional Development

Adding on to the academic development section, just experiencing American University Education gave me, in a way, a reality check of what is expected. Of course, it is expected for university students to study regularly and stay on top of their education (to the best of their ability), but Purdue really dropped me in the deep end whereas UQ is more dependent on self-discipline. It was somewhat overwhelming, to say the least, having to pull out my high school study habits again after a few years of it being hibernating, and flying me outside my comfort zone. I had to push through with motivation, dedication, and sheer will, just like in high school. To be a model student, and in the future, a model employee, I need to develop this work ethic. There (probably) aren't any other methods. My time at Purdue nailed this into my head the hard way.


You NEED money to have fun on exchange in America. Hopefully, the exchange rate will get better in the future, but while I was there, the conversion hovered around $1.00AUD = $0.665USD (Aug 22 - Dec 22). 

  •   - Housing (CQE Small Double) 1 sem: $4186.26 USD   ~$6156.26 AUD
  •   - Meal Plan (8 Track):                            $1499.00 USD   ~$2204.42 AUD
  •   - Flights (BNE-YVR-ORD, AC):             $-----------------    ~$2620.00 AUD 
  • - Coach (ORD-Purdue) each way:        $70.00 USD       ~$97.00 AUD 
  • - BGR (O-week program)                      $320.00 USD     ~$444.44 AUD 
  • - SIM (Mint mobile) p/month                  $20.00 USD      ~$29.85 AUD 
  • - Visa + SEVIS I-901                             $485.00 USD     ~$610.00 AUD 
  • - Travel                                                  $4966.15 USD   ~$7445.50 AUD 
  • - Eating out + Groceries etc                  $205.00 USD     ~$308.27 AUD

The total expenses came out to be around $13645.41 USD ~$20519.41 AUD. Keep in mind that I travelled extensively which costs quite a lot. (See 'Highlights'). If you can secure a grant or want to take out OS-HELP, you only need to save about $11000 AUD - $15000 AUD. In the end, it all depends on what you want to do.


I received a grant valued at $2000 and OS-HELP valued at $7100. Most of this money went towards funding my housing and food. This money was spent on leisure activities. The money for the rest of the expenses came out of pocket.


Purdue provides on-campus housing at an affordable rate. I was placed into Cary Quadrangle East. My room was large enough to fit   - two single beds, - two desks, - a small walk-in wardrobe, - and a sink. The room did have a toilet and shower as well, but it was connected to the neighbour's room like a passage. So, 4 of us shared a bathroom. Some of the rooms had enough space to fit a couch as well, but mine didn’t. On my floor (2), there was a study lounge and a kitchenette. The basement also had a laundry room, and common area with a pool table and table tennis, and a TV. Most of the on-campus housing is located West of the classrooms and walking to class took me, on average, around 10 mins. Cary Quad is right in front of the (American) football and basketball stadiums so on game days you can hear the crowd cheering (it gets quite busy there) but it was never loud enough to bother me much.


Traveling with mates. East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, Canada. It's the first time in my life that I got to - drive on the wrong side of the road.  - watch LCS Summer Finals live in Chicago.  - go on a road trip for the first time (to Toronto and The Grand Canyon).  - pull over by the motorway in the pitch-black desert to watch the stars.  - Go to Six Flags maybe - the highlight of the experience is the friends we made along the way ♥(I also won an OW2 collegiate tournament. Just putting it out there.)

Advice/Top Tips

  • Purdue's gym is honestly peak It's free for students and is well-equipped. Weights, treadmills, basketball courts, tennis courts, swimming pool, indoor atrium, table tennis, squash courts, massage chairs, rock climbing/bouldering, sauna...
  • Look for flights early! Purdue is located in the midwest (3-hour drive southeast from Chicago), so flights can get to and from can become pricey.
  • Be aware of the workload. See above (Academic development)
  • Don't be afraid to spend money (if you have enough, that is). America is such a diverse country with climates, natural landscapes, and demographics differing from the East Coast (NYC, Boston, etc) to the West Coast (LA, San Fran, etc) to the South (Texas). Go ahead and travel around if you can and explore the culture!
  • Go on a road trip! It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience pulling over on a pitch-black motorway to stargaze in a (literally) freezing desert.
  • If you ever get bored of America, there's also Canada (Amazing for natural landscapes and skiing), Mexico, and the Caribbean.
  • If you're going in hopes of landing an internship, then good luck (you'll need it. Trust). Purdue hosts the 'Industrial Roundtable', which is like a career fair, in the fall semester. Most (95%+) of the companies I've spoken to say they don't accept international students (I'm guessing part of it is because they don't want to go through the sponsorship process just to get you a visa). They'd most likely just tell you to contact their Australian branch (if they have one).
  • Go watch (at least) one game of football or basketball).  America is pretty big on sports. Most notably American football and basketball. The atmosphere in the stadium full of students and parents is just L I V E L Y.