Samantha - Boston College

B. Business Management / Arts
Semester 1, 2014

Academic experience

At Boston College, I only took subjects in the Arts portion of my dual degree, in particular, International Relations and Communications subjects. As Boston is an intellectual hub the professors and guest speakers we were exposed to during the semester were of extremely high quality and experienced. This meant there were some awesome academic opportunities, like an MIT based climate change simulation which we partook in over a week for an IR class. 5 subjects were the full-time load while over at BC but it wasn't an overwhelming workload at all. They focus pretty heavily on attendance but it also means that you have to stay on top of the content and I found that the answers to all the assessments were pretty clearly highlighted in class. I also found the marking a lot more lenient than UQ so as a pass-fail student there was little to stress over.

Personal experience

What's great about Boston is the interesting and historical places to visit not too far away. Also all the states in America are so vastly different that each place was a pretty different experience. I had great experiences in New Orleans, Chicago, Texas, Canada (Montreal, Toronto, Niagara Falls), New York, Seattle, Portland, LA and San Francisco!

Accommodation

I lived 'on-campus' in an apartment that was down the road from the campus itself. The exchange students who were placed on campus all had apartments on the same floor and it was a great way to get to know people. It was also conveniently right on the train-line and had a free shuttle to take us to nearby places like a shopping/dining area and the main campus itself. The shuttle was great for the freezing mornings where walking was not an option. The housing, however, was expensive (Approx $7,500 for a shared bedroom) so I would advise future students to do a little bit of research into finding cheaper alternatives.

Budget

Boston is a little expensive and so was the on-campus housing. What did help was saving money by cooking our own food a lot and sharing those expenses. There are also ways to save a little bit of money like Groupon, Uber and getting a feel for the public transport in each city. 
OverallI I probably spent around $15,000 AUD, although, the exchange rate was particularly bad during this period.

Professional development and employability

Boston College in the snow
Boston College in the snow

It gave me a different perspective than I would have at UQ. 
I've studied cross-cultural communication in many of my management subjects but this was the first real opportunity I got to put it to use. Living with people from such different cultural backgrounds and trying to fit into and adapt to a culture and learning style different to mine was challenging, but ultimately rewarding.

Highlight

Too many highlights! Overall, the wealth of experiences is what I value most. But perhaps the first blizzard which was a crazy and surreal experience!

Top tips

I would definitely encourage them to do it! 
A word of warning though: If you were heading to Boston College I would recommend doing it our semester 2 (Fall semester for them). Just because of how harsh the winter conditions were! We experienced the worst winter Massachusetts has ever had which meant numerous university days had to be cancelled for 'snow days'. During these blizzards, the whole city shut down and we were stranded inside our apartments for days at a time. This meant that we couldn't explore the city like we wanted to, especially as they tended to start during the weekend, and that more time was spent catching up on the work we missed. It was also cold for a really long time and the lack of greenery and blue sky began to get a little miserable. (Although if you're looking for a vastly different environment to Queensland then go for it - it had it's great moments as well!)

Samantha - Boston College