Stuti - University of Wisconsin - Madison

B. Science
Semester 1, 2016

Academic experience

I am currently in my fourth and final year of study, and was, therefore, able to take advantage of the variety of courses offered at UW-Madison. I took 5 elective courses in total; Geography of Wisconsin, Microbio, Introductory Pharm Sci, World History and History of Science. The lecturers were all enthusiastic and knowledgeable, the class sizes were smaller than at UQ and the class environment was very engaging. The overall content and course load was similar to UQ, however, assessment is more constant and the weighting is evenly distributed. There were weekly readings and more frequent assignments however this took a lot of pressure off the final exams, they were usually only 25-30% of your final grade.

Personal experience

Exchange is an amazing experience, there is nothing else like it. It is an opportunity to learn more about yourself while having fun and getting to experience so many new things at the same time! My exchange was the longest time I had spent away from home by myself, and I definitely became much more independent and confident with myself as a result. There is so much happening on campus, that I pushed myself to go to many events and get as much out of my time at UW-Madison as possible. I met so many wonderful people, both locals and international students from all over the world - many who became some of my closest friends.

Accommodation

There is no real difference between on-campus and off-campus housing in Madison. The dorms are located in two neighbourhoods, Lakeshore and Southeast. Off-campus housing is the apartments and share houses that are located around campus. Both are in close proximity to the classes and facilities. I lived on-campus in the Susan B. Davis Residence Hall in the Southeast neighbourhood. What I enjoyed most about this hall was its location, it was close to all my classes, there was a bus stop located nearby for those cold snowy days when I didn't feel like walking to class, and it was in close proximity to State Street (the main street in Madison where all the bars and restaurants are).

Budget

Madison is a pretty affordable place to stay. On-campus accommodation is approximately $4000 a semester, off-campus accommodation would be cheaper than this. I ate most of my meals in the dining halls which was very reasonably priced and also convenient. I found the cost of food, general supplies, alcohol and entertainment to be quite cheap. Buses in Madison are free for students and there are many facilities on campus that are either free or require a small membership fee such as the gym (classes and equipment), pool and ice rink. There is also rock climbing, bowling and a free-student theatre at the Union. 

Professional development and employability

Volunteering at the STLF Spring Break trip
Volunteering at the STLF Spring Break trip

It was a challenge to balance the academic course load with socialising and going out to events. I learnt how to manage my time better and also became more organised. Being in a foreign environment, there was so much to learn about which improved my problem solving and communication skills also.

Highlight

During Spring Break, I decided to go on a volunteer trip across the Mid-West with an organisation called STLF, a student-run organisation on campus. This was definitely a highlight of my exchange overall. Not a conventional way to spend Spring Break, but I was able to see parts of the US I probably would not have travelled to otherwise, made so many close friendships and it was a rewarding experience as well.

Top tips

  • Go to the hockey, basketball and football games. Even if sports aren't your thing, the vibe and atmosphere is fantastic and worth experiencing. 
  • Put yourself out there, try to join at least one organisation on campus. There is such a wide variety of organisations and groups, there is something for everyone. It is a great way to meet new people and find out about activities and events happening. 
  • Head to the Terrace with some friends at some point of your exchange, it's a great place to hang out and watch the sunset
  • Travel as much as you can, but also take the time to experience what Madison has to offer. It is the perfect place to experience what American college life is like!
Stuti - University of Wisconsin - Madison