Annaliese - Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

B. Advanced Science
Semester 2, 2016

Academic experience

During my exchange, I was in the second year, second semester of my program. I studied four courses (a reduced study load):

01:640:312 - Intro to Applied Math
In this course, I had homework problems due every lesson! 

01:640:336 - Dynamical Models in Biology
I had an assignment due each week in this class. I found that my Applied Math and Biology Models courses had a lot of overlap as Applied Math had a section on mathematical biology and they taught many of the same concepts and techniques, so it was a lot less of a workload.

11:261:269 - Evolution of Animal Behaviour
This was an extremely interesting course. I really recommend to anyone who enjoys biology, especially if Dr Sukhedo and Dr Sukhedo are teaching it! There were three multiple choice exams for this course (two "midterms" and one final).

07:965:211 - Theatre Appreciation
Theatre Appreciation was one of the best courses I've ever taken - I got to see musicals and plays for uni work!

This was not a very difficult workload at all - it was very manageable. Unfortunately, none of the lectures are recorded, so it was a challenge to not rely on those! Both my maths courses were tutorial sized classes, which felt strange at first, but by the end, my professors knew my name which was nice.

The grading scheme was quite different to UQ. I think for most courses, to pass you need at least 60% overall. I didn't find this too difficult - having homework due each week for my two maths courses helped.

Personal experience

I spent all except one or two weekends in New York City (which is only an hour or so bus ride from New Brunswick, $17 return - so worth it!). I managed to see at least one Broadway show a week while I was at Rutgers, which was a goal I had as I was planning my exchange.

One of the most surreal memories I will forever cherish is camping out on the 48th St footpath near the Rockefeller Centre for Saturday Night Live standby tickets. I waited in that line for 16 hours (from Friday afternoon to 7 am Saturday morning) just for the chance to see the show - standby tickets aren't guaranteed! I saw Emily Blunt's dress rehearsal, which was an incredible experience! And then I went back a few weeks later to see Kristen Wiig host the live show by camping out for... 32 hours. (If you ever watch season 42 episode 7, you can see me in the audience behind Kristen Wiig at some points!) 

I went to the filming of Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Good Morning America.

I have friends from all around the world now. I joined the Figure Skating Club, which was so cool! Though I'm definitely not a pro skater (yet!), over the weeks I became more confident on the ice. It was so cool to get involved with a club - I went pumpkin picking with them, which was such an awesome American experience!

I also went to Philadelphia (twice), Washington DC and after the semester I went skiing in Aspen Snowmass, Colorado.

Accommodation

Top of the Rock
Top of the Rock!

I lived on campus in the Easton Ave Apartments, and I recommend them 100% as most of the exchange students stay there, and they're the most central - close to the bus/train to NYC! You get placed in an apartment with three other exchange students (usually). It's truly an American college experience!

Budget

Save as much money as you possibly can! I was very stingy with food and basics as I knew I wanted to spend as many weekends as possible in NYC seeing Broadway shows.

Professional development and employability

I've experienced living in a new country for an extended period of time - I can easily cope with changes and any difficulties with travel and moving now. I am so much more independent and self-sufficient than before.

While at Rutgers, I was exposed a new and different style of teaching, and I can apply the lessons I learnt coping with this change to my study habits at UQ, and also any learning experience in the future.

Highlight

I can't possibly choose one highlight.

I saw 30+ Broadway shows, all of which were highlights in themselves!

Seeing so many TV shows filmed live was incredible.

Just being in NYC every weekend was everything I'd ever dreamed of.

Top tips

  • Just do it! 
  • Try and organise your classes so you have a long weekend! I managed to get Fridays off, which was amazing.
  • Download the Rutgers app so you can get the bus timetable and live updates on your phone. Makes it a lot easier!
  • The bus ride to NY is 50 mins on a good day, but in peak hour traffic (say, Friday afternoons) it can take up to 2 hours... if you need to get into the city at those times, definitely try the train instead if you're in a rush or go in earlier.
  • Make the most of your exchange! Have a goal that you want to complete by the end of semester. Whether it's academic or experience related, you'll feel accomplished when you get home and think back on your exchange.
Annaliese - Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey