Luke - University of Massachusetts

B. Commerce and Economics
Semester 1, 2016

Academic experience

I took courses in Economics and Finance with a general education subject in Public Health. The learning curve was quite abrupt due to how different the courses are taught, although, overall I felt it was easy to adjust as there are always other people going through the same process. I think the biggest change was attendance marks, even for final year courses, it was a surprise but they are easy marks which can help you achieve great grades.

Personal experience

I don't even know where to begin, it was by far the best semester of my entire University career and I owe it not to just the place, but the amazing people I became friends with whilst studying. The college lifestyle over in the United States is catered to students who want to do well academically but also be involved in a high level of extracurriculars from recreational sporting events to student societies/clubs. The social aspect of Umass was second to none, the college is filled with such amazing and friendly people - it was such a life-changing event.

Accommodation

I lived on campus in John Quincy Adams Hall in the South West region and I could not recommend this enough. Any area you stay in on campus at Umass has its own culture, some are more laid back while others are more studious, upon asking around prior to departure I found that South West was the perfect balance for what I was looking for. Do some research on what suits you best and this will pay off when you arrive. One of the best experiences is getting close with your roommate and other people on your floor/building. Although the college is huge, you can build a wide web of connections very quickly - especially in South West!

Budget

Trip to the Golden Gate Bridge
Trip to the Golden Gate Bridge

I travelled prior to the commencement of the semester and after its completion, along with trips for spring break and throughout the semester and I believe as much money as you can possibly get together prior to going over is the best thing to do. As a figure, UQ's estimate of how much it would cost for the semester would be fine if you were looking to have a basic semester with little travel - the more money you have, the more freedom you can have throughout your exchange! A dollar goes a lot further in the US than in Australia!

Professional development and employability

The exchange itself is so priceless to my development, it taught me about how vast the world is and possible careers in the United States. I wouldn't have been able to even dream my exchange would have gone the way it did prior to departing. I returned with a college experience and relationships I will never forget, this includes professional contacts that could help me with starting a career in the United States.

Highlight

There are too many to even select my highlight with the likes of Snowboarding, watching the NBA, Ice Hockey, AFC Football in New England, Tailgating the spring football game, College sports are just some of the things I got to see/do whilst I was at Umass. However, one experience I will never forget was just playing a simple pick-up game of Baseball with all my friends on the Umass Hockey / Soccer / Baseball / Swim Team. I had never played a game of Baseball and it was such a good bonding experience, I, of course, am horrible at the game but I genuinely loved just spending time with all my friends and sharing that experience. This was followed up by attending my first ever MLB game at Fenway with some of my best friends. Simply unforgettable.

Top tips

  • The best advice I can give you if you are considering Umass, or just exchange, in general, is to simply do it! I feel like I have grown so much as an individual from my experience on exchange and I have forged not only relationships but memories, that will last a lifetime.
  • Unlimited meal plan/Berk, this dining hall is simply amazing, literally, 15 m from the door of JQA. It is the social hub and you will make so many friends by socializing over meals. Berk also does Late Night, which is where you will be able to grab a nice feed before bed.
  • The Rec, the gym itself is amazing although pick smart times to go as it is busy!
  • Isenberg, such a great school to learn for all you finance majors
  • Don't get 8 am classes, seriously. The weather is well below freezing, your motivation will be low and when it is attendance marks this is a recipe for disaster. 
  • Take PUB160 if you are looking for a good gen ed, it is a first-year course and allows you to meet people who are trying to make friends as well
  • Get tickets to the spring/fall concert that the school puts on, the artists are always amazing. I got to see Logic, Tinashe and Fetty Wap just to name a few. 
  • South West Express #2 with extra Ranch/Blue Cheese, zero regrets and they deliver until 3am on dining dollars!
  • Put yourself out there! If you aren't a particularly social person at home, this is your chance to change that, everyone I met at Umass is extremely friendly and a lot of them will come from cities and towns from all across America
  • Most importantly my top tip is College sports. Go to every one of the events you can make the atmosphere is amazing along with the teams themselves. I have to give a special shout-out to Umass Hockey, Soccer, Baseball, Football and Swim/Dive Team. These teams at this school, along with being phenomenal athletes are all phenomenal people, so if you can make a game go along as support.
  • I still have so much more I could put into this testimonial about Umass, it truly was the best semester ever. Go Minutemen!!
Luke - University of Massachusetts