Hannah - The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

B. Communication / Journalism
Semester 2, 2016

Academic experience

While I was abroad, I studied three journalism courses and one public relations course, which I was granted credit for before I left Australia. Luckily, the journalism program at UQ are sister schools with the Media and Journalism school at UNC. 
I took MEJO101 which was introductory course into media and journalism and had guest lecturers almost every week for different parts of the media world, allowing students to get a taste for what they like. This is usually a first-year course.
MEJO157 was probably my favourite course, News Editing. It was difficult at first because I had to get used to the American grammar system but found it very rewarding overall.

MEJO221 was an audio and video course which was very hands-on, similar to a lot of the courses at UQ even though we could rent as much equipment as we needed, including microphones and film equipment.

MEJO431 was a public relations course and was probably a bit laid back compared to UQ PR courses.It was really interesting to see the education Journalism and Media students get in the USA compared to Australia, and it was great having access to amazing facilities at UNC.

Personal experience

My semester at UNC was one of the best times of my life. I was lucky enough to make some amazing friendships, including other exchange students from Australia mainly but also other countries as well as forming very close bonds with Americans. We tried to travel at least one weekend a month as well as Fall Break and Thanksgiving. Before school started, I travelled through California, Arizona and Nevada, and while at UNC, I spent weekends in Atlanta, Georgia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania & Washington, D.C. I spent Fall Break in Miami, Florida and Thanksgiving break in Boston, Massachusetts and New York City, New York. Not only did I spend time travelling, I spent a lot of time on campus participating like a real TarHeel. I attended Football and Basketball Games. Went to sorority events with my friends. Ate on Franklin Street.

Accommodation

I lived on campus in Cobb Dorm, which was really close to main campus and Lenoir Dining Hall. It only took me about 7 minutes to walk to class in the morning which was really convenient. I was in a triple room with two Americans. In regards to housing, I would suggest staying near the main campus and trying to get another exchange student in your room. Having another exchange student makes everything easier as you both are there for the same reasons and would become closer.

Budget

Rent on campus was just over $3000US and the

Drinking out of the Old Well on FDOC!
Drinking out of the Old Well on FDOC!

food plan I got was 120 meals for about $1250US. Of course, you have your flight to pay for from Australia and travel insurance. (Heads up, you don't have to pay for UNC's health insurance package if you have high-level comprehensive travel insurance already.) My friends and I used Uber a lot in the States, it was usually a lot easier than catching public transport, especially in Chapel Hill if there was a bunch of you going shopping, etc. We did catch Megabuses to D.C. one weekend though and that was completely easy. Sometimes it was easier to catch a bus somewhere than have to get an uber to the airport 2+1/2 hours before your flight. 
All up, probably would recommend $10,000 Aus for necessities like accommodation, food, flights, insurance etc, and depending how much travel you want to do in the States, $5,000-$10,000 for spending money. Making sure you have a budget in place while you're away helps too, as well as booking holidays in advance as flights get very expensive

Professional development and employability

Being a part of the Media and Journalism School definitely contributed to my professional development and future career aspects. Having access to the facilities and being taught by professors who were the best in their fields helped give a lot of insight into what I want to achieve in the future. 
Personally, being on exchange you learn how to look after your money and budget properly. You learn to rely on yourself, living out of the home and being able to be in control of your own life. I found my academic life didn't suffer as much as I wasn't constantly working part-time in order to earn money. Having a break and having the time of my life was a really positive thing mentally.

Highlight

Travelling is great and of course was a highlight of my experience but the friendships I made are invaluable. I know have a group of friends on the other side of the world who I would have never have known. Spending quality time with my friends in theirThere'sown and experiencing their way of life in the USA is an experience I will never forget. Also, being a part of a school community like UNC is like nothing else. The pride you have a Tar Heel is like nothing else. Also, I was in the USA during the election and I got to see Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama at rallies which was insane.

Top tips

  • Participate in everything. If you want to write for the Daily Tar Heel, go to info sessions. If there's a performance on, go only with your friends. 
  • Go to as many sporting games as you can! and tailgate in Football season. There's nothing like spending your day gearing up with your friends before heading to the stadium with 50,000 other Tar Heels screaming along. 
  • Travel, but make sure you spend time on campus and create a life there. 
  • THE LENOIR DINING HALL COOKIES ARE AMAZING - MNM ones are the best. They are definitely the reason why I am carrying some holiday weight.
  • Try to go home for Thanksgiving with an American friend. If you can't, Rams Dining Hall puts one on that's just as good. 
  • Get as many t-shirts and Carolina merch as you can, they give out free t-shirts everywhere.
  • Listen to Gary the Pit Preacher at least once. If there's a protest in Polk Place, go have a look.
  • Drink out of the Old Well on the first day of classes. It's tradition. 
  • Halloween on Franklin St is crazy; definitely, something to see.
  • The North Carolina Fair is really fun. 10/10 recommend only if you want to go people watch and try deep-fried Oreos. 
  • Talk to your professors; they're understanding and are great contacts to have for future career aspirations. Play up the Australian thing. Most of them love it. 
Hannah - The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill