James - University of California (San Diego)

B. Commerce / Economics
Semester 2, 2016

Academic experience

I studied 4 courses including a class on The Beatles, gospel singing, philosophy in terms of morals and ethics and corporate finance. I thoroughly enjoyed the emphasis teachers gave on student improvement. Teachers were more than willing to help students improve through constant email conversations or conversations after class. They seemed more focused on individual student success than teachers in Australia. The greatest challenge I had to overcome with my academic experience was to constantly remind myself that I was still going to school. That might sound silly, but as you are on exchange you are having the best time of your life. Literally, every day is a different adventure and you are having so much fun with your friends that sometimes you forget that you still need to pass your subjects. The fact that UQ has understood that exchange is a time for students to focus on having a good time and studies by not having it impact students' GPA gave me a much less stressful exchange experience.

Personal experience

Sky Diving for the first time with friends from exchange
Sky Diving for the first time with friends from exchange

One thing I can say that I have gained from my exchange experience for sure is friends for life. The people I met on exchange I'm sure will be my friend's for a lifetime. We all shared such a unique experience together that no matter what was to happen in the future, I know I will have friends all over the world. I also learnt a lot about myself as an individual as I believe I became much more independent and mature in the way I view things in life.


I lived on campus and I wouldn't have changed it for the world. Living with your friends 24/7 but still have your own privacy in a single room was great. Having your friends a couple of meters across from you at all times was great fun. My advice for future students is to keep up to date with your housing situation before going on exchange and keep up to date with any updates your host university may give you.


I spent $15,000 - $17,000 and this included rent, food, transport, entertainment of all kinds and 2 months of travelling throughout and after my exchange period. It is crucial to budget so you understand what your boundaries are whilst on exchange and this will also provide you with a less stress whilst on exchange which is the last thing you want.

Professional development and employability

I have come to understand a lot more about me as an individual. As I knew no one prior to going to my host university, I had to develop the skill of meeting new people very quickly. I know feel very confident in going into a situation where I know no one and meeting people by picking out mutual interests we may have. I believe this will be very important in my professional career as I will be having to meet with people I have never met before on a daily basis.


The people I met. I understand that it is a cliche thing to say. But the people I met on exchange was the highlight of my experience and the memories I formed with them on exchange will last a lifetime.

Top tips

  • Make the most of your exchange experience.
  • Try and meet as many people as possible.
  • Do as much on campus and off as you can.
James - University of California