Ellen - University of Maryland

B. Engineering
Semester 1 and Semester 2, 2016

Academic experience

I studied all engineering subjects and one higher level math subject. The system is quite different from home, there is a lot of work all the time. This results in the exams only being worth max 35%. The work is not too difficult and there are a lot of office hours to get help, but you do have to stay on top of it all. I really liked that you could get to know your professors, they are all really willing to help and this means that if you want to learn a lot you can!

Personal experience

You always read how exchange is amazing and it changes your life blah blah... but actually, it is and it does, so if you're hesitating just bite the bullet and do it. I got to see some really cool places in the US (NYC, New Orleans, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, Nashville, Dallas to name a few). I also met some amazing people from the US as well as around the world. I think that exchange makes you grow up a bit and realise what you can do in life and that you are capable of a lot. It sounds lame and motivational but also its true!

In front of a colourful front door in New Orleans!
In front of a colourful front door in New Orleans!

Accommodation

I was at UMD for a year. The first semester I lived on campus and the second I lived off with some friends I'd made in the first semester. I much preferred the off-campus accommodation because I had my own room. On campus mostly means you share with someone, and that can be very hit and miss. It was still enjoyable but you do miss your privacy after a while! On campus has an advantage though, as most exchange students are on campus it's a lot easier to socialise with them if you are also on campus! I would say to future students- do on-campus but request for your own room, if possible, AND if you don't like your roommate in the first 2 weeks, request to move- you can do this and it will make your experience more enjoyable in the long run!

Budget

Oooh, I'm not too good with expenses. I think I spent around AUD $20 000 for the whole year. Around half of that was accommodation (maybe a bit more). Travel uses up a lot, but is worth it! Food is a bit as well. I would aim to have around $12 000 for one semester. Also, keep in mind the exchange rate, it was pretty bad when I was there.

Professional development and employability

The Brooklyn Bridge, New York
The Brooklyn Bridge, New York

I have become a lot more independent and assertive. I am way more confident and am less afraid to do "big" things.

Highlight

The highlight of my experience was getting to live and work in Manhattan for 3 months in between my 2 semesters. ALSO making really good friends and getting to live with them and realising at the end that you just don't want to leave!

Top tips

  • Join Clubs. You say you will but you'll find an excuse not to. In my second semester, I made myself join the Boxing Club, it was so much fun, and a way to make American friends.
  • Otherwise, you end up hanging out with only international students- which is good but also why limit yourself!
Ellen - University of Maryland