Emily - University of Wisconsin

B. Engineering / Commerce
Semester 2, 2017

Academic experience

I undertook four Civil Engineering courses during my semester, which consisted of MATH320, CIVENGR315, CIVENGR498 and CIVENGR571. These were equivalent to MATH2000, CIVL3141, CIVL3510 and CIVL3420, respectively.

What I enjoyed most about the academic system was the different style of teaching to what I was used to at UQ. The class sizes were significantly smaller and the system reflected more of a school environment with constant assessment and homework throughout the semester. I did enjoy this though as it helped me to keep on top of everything as well as made finals a lot easier as they were weighted significantly less.

I had to make some last minute changes to the courses I was studying as when I went to enrol the subjects weren’t offered in the year and semester I was going. Therefore, I’d recommend having at least 6 courses approved by UQ just in case this happens. Also classes can fill up very quickly so if you don’t get into the class you want I would recommend emailing the lecturer and explaining your situation otherwise another option would be to just rock up to the first class and ask the professor if there is still room.

Personal experience

For so many reasons going on exchange to Madison has been one of the best experiences of my life so far. I was lucky enough to not only meet people from America but around the world and had the opportunity to travel to a number of different places. I also became a lot more independent having to budget and pay for my living expenses over the 6 month period.


I lived on campus in a dorm style room. I was lucky to have a really good roommate that helped me out when I first arrived and was willing to show me around Wisconsin. The good thing about college is that although it is more of an expensive option than living in an apartment there were a number of facilities within the building such as washing machines, computer rooms with printing, kitchens on every floor, a gym as well as a dining hall across the road. I also didn’t have the stress about finding a 6 month lease which can be hard. Another advantage about living in college is that I was able to meet other exchange students as a most live in dorms.

I would recommend living near State Street as it is fairly central to most of the campus. I would also recommend living in Ogg Residence if you choose college as the international dorms are quite far from everything.


I would recommend budgeting around $15,000 for exchange if not more depending on how much you want to travel. Accommodation cost around $4500 US and depending on the exchange rate can be upwards of $6000 AUD. For food I preferred to cook my own meals and so did a fortnightly grocery shop which usually cost around 80 US dollars. I would recommend trying to go to different restaurants along State Street as there a number of American places you should try before you leave. Transport was also free around campus.

In terms of travel, I predominately travelled before and after the semester as flights can be fairly expensive. You can get fairly good bus deals to Chicago and Milwaukee so I would recommend definitely doing that during the semester.

Professional development and employability

Participating in exchange allowed me to enhance my academic development as having the opportunity to study in a different academic system allowed me to learn and adapt to not only a different learning style but also a different culture. I also had the opportunity to meet a wide range of people, which allowed me to broaden my understanding of many different cultural backgrounds.


The highlight of my experience was definitely the college football and tailgating. Every home game over 80,000 people would rock up to Camp Randall decked head to toe in red. Even though you may have no idea what’s going on the student section is heaps of fun and full of various chants. So if you are thinking of going to the states I would recommend going in the second semester as that is when football season is on. Another highlight was becoming friends with people from all over the world.

Top tips

  • Exchange will be one of the best experiences of your life so just do it.
  • Save up as much money as you can.
  • Pay attention for when football tickets go on sale as they sell out quick. Even if you don’t go to all the games you can easily sell some of your tickets.
  • Go there with an open mind.
  • Don’t rely on UW to help you out as you need to do a lot of independent research yourself – therefore it can be handy meeting the Wisconsin students at UQ the semester before you go or know someone else who has been before.