Aninda - Purdue University

Bachelor of Engineering
Semester 1, 2018

Academic experience

In my honest opinion, the academic system in the USA was a fair bit more arduous than that of Australia. Particularly in an engineering-focused university as Purdue, a highly rigorous mathematical treatment was given to all concepts taught. However, it was an extremely enlightening and rewarding experience to have been immersed among the world’s best and the brightest – among the legacy of Astronaut Neil Armstrong himself.

While on exchange, all of the courses I undertook were core engineering courses, as I have very little room in my degree for free electives. The courses I took were Data Structures and Algorithms (COMP3506 eq), Signals & Systems (ELEC3004 eq), Electronic Analysis + Electromechanical Devices (ELEC2003 eq) and Advanced C Programming (CSSE2310 eq). The courses offered high intellectual stimulation with first principles derivation for concepts, which I particularly enjoyed. It allowed me to gain deeper and clearer understanding of the course materials. The flip-side of this was that the courses were fairly theory heavy.

One of the main challenges I faced was managing 5 courses with weekly homework assignments and upwards of 4 exams for each course throughout the semester. There was always something due which meant I had to maximise my time management abilities. However, through proper planning and execution, I was able to complete my studies with enough time to engage in other outdoor activities.

Personal experience

One of the key things that I gained from this experience was adaptability. Being immersed in a whole new world with extreme diversity meant that I had to learn to cope with previously unseen situations on a daily basis. The diversity was also particularly enriching as meeting people from literally every corner of the globe allowed me to become more open-minded and aware of cultural differences. I found it absolutely invigorating to be working alongside people from all walks of life who were all driven and motivated to make the world a better place. 

Our close of group of exchange students came from an array of diverse cultural background. On our common journey to become more well-cultured, well-travelled and well-rounded individuals, we were able to share snippets of our own experiences and learn from each other. This helped create strong, life-long friendships and memories that we will carry with us forever.

Accommodation

I seized this opportunity to learn a bit more about dorm culture. Living at home in Australia, I did not have the chance to understand the joys of living in a shared communal space where you are surrounded by like-minded people. This experience can really go both ways, but I was extremely fortunate to have an outstanding local roommate, which meant that I was able to quite easily learn about the American culture and events on campus. In turn, I was able to share some of my experiences of what it is like to live down under.

Costs

In contrast to other exchange students I have spoken to, Indiana was actually quite reasonable in their pricing. While costs will vary extensively depending on spending habits, I was able to complete my exchange for under USD $10,000 including flights. Fortunately, thanks to UQ Abroad, I received an AUD $3000 exchange scholarship which came in very handy. Living in dorms plus a full mean plan cost me around USD $5,000 and I used the remainder for daily miscellaneous expenses as well as my three trips to Chicago, New York and Kansas/Missouri.

Professional Development

In terms of professional development, one of the key takeaway was the network that I was able to establish in the US. I hope to hold on the contacts I gained with industry practitioners as well as academics that I met through various social and professional events. I would encourage everyone to do the same and partake in as many networking events as possible. This will build your confidence as well as empower your soft skills.

Highlight

The highlight of my exchange was definitely my trips to the windy city (Chicago) and the big apple (New York). I am typically fonder of landscapes as opposed to cityscapes, but these two metropolitan centres were absolutely breath taking. Looking down on New York from atop the Rockefeller Centre left me in awe and wondering how the city came to be. This prompted me to research into the history of American cities. This journey, from the pre-Columbian era through the revolutionary war to the current state that it is today, was a fascinating one.

Top tips

My top tip for those looking to do exchange is you should do it! It is the perfect opportunity to get away for a semester and get a taste of a different life. It is the perfect way to step out of your comfort zone, which is ultimately where progress happens. The personal and professional developments that I was able to gain will be invaluable to my career going forward and I am already excited to start travelling again.

Quote

Life is not meant to be lived in one place.