Jojo - Arizona State University

B. Science
Semester 1, 2016

Academic experience

I studied 2 courses required for my major (immunology and neuroscience) as well as a fun selection of electives including basketball, outdoor recreation and habitable worlds (yes, those are actual courses). I'm definitely glad I saved up my electives for my exchange as the 2 science courses I did were quite intense. Although I only needed to pass, in the US, a pass is normally 70%. Lectures are also not recorded, which was probably the most challenging part since some lectures start at 7:30am...

Personal experience

I think going on exchange really forces you to step outside your comfort zone and learn to solve problems independently. I came home with so many new memories with amazing friends from around the world, I'm not sure if I can put it all into words. You meet so many different types of people who are all desperate to make the most of their exchange like you, so you end up going on crazy spontaneous adventures together.

Accommodation

Trip to San Francisco
Trip to San Francisco

I stayed off campus with 3 other roommates and I would recommend it! We became really good friends and we even road tripped to Coachella together! You can get pretty good deals on accommodation if you sublease from someone, it also saves you from getting a full year lease and having to find someone to replace you after 6 months. ASU is also a "dry" campus, so even if you're over 21, don't expect to have any alcohol in your rooms. Some apartments require you to have renters insurance which would be an extra cost to factor in.

Budget

America is not as cheap as some people may believe, especially with the exchange rate. Bring more than you plan to spend because there will be road trips, concerts and sporting events you won't want to miss out on. Domestic flight prices can vary a lot depending on how far in advance you book it. If you're a spontaneous flight booker like me, prepare to shell out a lot of money on flights. ASU also has mandatory health insurance and they won't allow exchange students to sign waivers as some have done in the past, so factor in around $2000 AUD for that as well. Although not having a car was a slight annoyance, staying close to campus and Ubers definitely help. The light rail system is a great way to get into Phoenix from Tempe and if you have tickets to a sporting event like the NBA, it's free!

Professional development and employability

You learn to become more confident in unfamiliar environments. On exchange you constantly find yourself surrounded by people you don't know who are already friends with each other so you learn to not be that awkward person who just stands there. Sometimes you'll go on trips with people you've just met and you learn to solve trivial problems when there's a difference of opinions. I can also safely say, my trip planning and organisational skills have improved drastically.

Highlight

Besides just living in a brand new country for a semester and meeting the most incredible people, being able to travel solo around North and South America for 2 months after my semester ended was incredible. I stayed with friends that I had met at music festivals, crashed on couches of people I became friends with while waiting in line for doughnuts, travelled around Brazil visiting Brazilians I met while they were on exchange at UQ and picked destinations spontaneously from the departures board at LAX. I learnt to go with the flow and realised that you can overcome most of life's challenges by yourself (as long as your phone has data and you can still use Google).

Top tips

  • I would say go for it! You won't have any regrets by going on exchange.
  • Don't worry too much about the destination because you will have an incredible time as long as you embrace it.
  • Plan ahead and save up as much money as you can, the OS-HELP is an amazing resource you should take advantage of.
  • There is an enormous amount of school pride so be prepared for football games, pep rallies, and coming home with a suitcase full of Sun Devils gear.
Jojo - Arizona State University