Madeline - University of Pennsylvania

B. Nursing
Semester 1, 2017

Academic experience

During my exchange with the University of Pennsylvania, I was enrolled in two courses: nursing of the young adult and nursing of the older adult. Although I had already studied similar course content here in Australia, this exchange program provided me with the opportunity to consolidate and strengthen my knowledge on such topics. It also provided me with an insight towards the health care problems among specific age groups in America and how these differ from those experienced in Australia. 
Being able to adapt to the different roles and responsibilities of student nurses in America was certainly a challenge at first. However, after spending time in the hospital and receiving support and guidance from my peers and teachers, I quickly overcame this and was able to achieve my goals as a student nurse with confidence.

Personal experience

This exchange experience offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to establish and secure international social networks. I was fortunate enough to secure friendships with incredible people from all over the world and that is something I will always treasure. Despite being submerged in a foreign culture, I quickly adapted to the new and exciting way of life with help from the incredible friends I made. I had the opportunity to travel around the East Coast of America during the semester, visiting places such as New York, Chicago, Miami, Washington DC and New Orleans. The opportunity to explore foreign cities and establish friendships with fellow exchange students and locals alike has truly boosted my confidence.

Accommodation

I lived on campus in a high rise college apartment building with two other UQ nursing/midwifery students. Living with my friends certainly had its benefits as it provided me with a sense of familiarity and comfort whilst living so far away from home. Living on campus also provided an excellent opportunity to meet local students and establish international networks and friendships. Furthermore, the college house provided endless socializing opportunities by hosting events such as ice skating and day trips to Washington DC, as well as free food evenings and movie nights.

Budget

The exchange program is certainly not cheap. However in saying that, the experience is most definitely worth it. My approximate total expenditure for the semester, not including costs for travel, was approximately $12,000 - 15, 000. I did a fair bit of travel, both before, during, and after the semester. In considering travel as well as flights to and from America, I would suggest students set a budget of approximately $30, 000 - 35,000 to cover all bases. This, of course, depends on how much travel you decide to do before and after the semester. This estimate is based off my travels, which included one month before and two months after the semester.

Professional development and employability

This exchange program has enhanced my communication and teamworks skills in a way that will certainly influence my future career as a registered nurse. I have learnt to adapt to unfamiliar healthcare environments and situations by utilising support networks and local resources, which is a critical skill to possess as a student nurse.

Highlight

Snow day at UPenn!
Snow day at UPenn!

The highlight of my experience was the incredible friends I met along the way. These are friendships I will treasure forever. Meeting people from all over the world and learning about different cultures has changed me for the better and I have never before felt so comfortable and confident in an unfamiliar environment.

Top tips

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that has provided me with incredible memories, experiences, and friendships. Do your research on the University you plan to attend in terms of facilities and courses offered, living costs, and other activities that you may want to join such as sports teams etc. Start saving for the exchange early - keep your goal in sight and you will get there eventually! This experience is so incredible and I encourage anyone who is considering to study abroad to commit to their aspirations of doing so.

Madeline - University of Pennsylvania