Rebecca - University of South Carolina

B. International Hotel and Tourism Management
Semester 1, 2016

Academic experience

The courses I studied overseas were three electives and two core subjects. The electives I chose were subjects that I hadn't had any experience in before because I thought it would be interesting to try a diverse range. Among these were Poetry, Archaeology, and British Literature. The core subjects were Hotel Management and Tourism Marketing.

I enjoyed the content of these courses and how they were presented from an American perspective. The content itself was quite easy and straight-forward, and assessment was done consistently throughout the semester. I found that students contributed more to the class and each of the classes were like large tutorials. The thing that I found most difficult was the compulsory attendance. I had classes five days a week which meant I had to compromise and plan out when I would use my three allowed absences for each class if we were going on a weekend trip or to some other event.

Personal experience

The thing that I gained most from the exchange was the friendships I formed, not only with Americans but with the people who were also on exchange from a variety of countries. Most of the trips, weekend adventures and simply everyday lunches and dinners were with these people and we already have plans in the future to see each other. The biggest piece of advice I could give is to get to know people from other countries!

Accommodation

I lived on campus in West Quad. I was initially a bit upset I wasn't allocated Maxcy House, the international housing, but overall I think I was better off having my own room and a kitchen readily available. There were a few internationals who lived at West Quad as well so we always had someone to walk home with, especially late at night. I had two American roommates who were both really nice, and we would often pop out to grab dinner or just hang out in the dorm.

Budget

Football game!
Football game!

Overall I think I would have spent about $10,000 AUD, including accommodation costs. Staying in West Quad was about $4000 AUD, and I chose not to get a meal plan so I would go grocery shopping every week which was about $30 USD. Saying this, sometimes it was difficult to get to the grocery store without transport as it was about a 20min walk both ways. I would use the dining halls a few times a week so it may have been more cost-effective to get a meal plan in hindsight. We also went on several spontaneous trips so definitely leave money aside for travel, transport and entertainment. I would recommend having more than you think you will need because it would be better to be able to do the things you want to then not because you don't have enough money.

Professional development and employability

I think the major skill I developed through exchange was having to immerse myself in a different culture. The skill to adapt to an unknown place will definitely help me in the future, especially if I want to pursue a career in tourism and potentially work overseas.

Highlight

Pinning down one highlight from my time at USC would be impossible. The college experience was one of the best things I have ever done, from the basketball games, the college town Five Points, going to Russell House for meals or movies, hanging out in the dorm, to the weekend trips we went on to Charlotte, Greenville, Savannah, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Spring Break to Miami. Every day brought a new adventure.

Top tips

  • Take more money than you think you'll need for anything that comes up.
  • Take advantage of the International Student Services. They offer weekend trips to a variety of places and also do weekly trips to Walmart if you need supplies.
  • Get involved with events and sports matches on campus.
  • Use the buddy system at USC. I got in contact with my buddy before I left and she picked me up from the airport and I stayed the first night at her house.
  • If you're going in Semester One, it's really cold. I know this may be common sense to some people but I didn't expect it to be that freezing in the South. One day it even snowed, so make sure you pack warmly for the first few months!
  • Get involved with the clubs on campus. I joined the Mountaineering and White Water Rafting club and they did weekend trips hiking, camping, canoeing and a bunch of other things.
  • I think the biggest advice I could give is be a 'yes' person. Embrace every opportunity that comes your way because some of the best experiences you have are those which you don't expect.
Rebecca - University of South Carolina