Thiranya - Northeastern University

Bachelor of Business Management
Semester 2, 2017

Academic experience

As I undertook my electives at Northeastern University, I was able to study courses from various fields. The classes I took were American sign language, Drugs and psychology, Global social enterprise and Innovation and I thoroughly enjoyed all of them. The academic system was definitely really different as I had more constant small assignments throughout the semester and barely any final exams. At first, this was a very challenging and overwhelming concept to grasp. However, after giving myself a couple of weeks to adjust to the cultural and academic changes, it became much easier balancing the workload.

Personal experience

This exchanged helped me build my confidence and become more independent. As I was in a new country by myself, I was responsible for my own finances, travel arrangements and accommodation. 
The best part of going on exchange were the amazing friends I've made from around the world; literally around the world. It's so exciting to meet people from so many regions and learning about their cultures. On top of this, as I was able to study ASL at university, I am now able to communicate quite well with the deaf community! I loved learning a new language and this is definitely an invaluable skill that I'm proud to acquire.

Accommodation

I lived on campus at a place called International Village (IV). This was one of the places where majority of the exchange students lived in so it was easier to make friends. And this building is fairly new so the rooms were in good condition too! And top of that, the dining hall was just in the building too so during those harsh winter days, we didn't have to walk anywhere for our meals. IV also has a mini gymnasium which was also useful if you didn't want to walk out to the main university gym. The best part of living on campus was the convenience of getting to uni quickly, and of course making friends more easily.

Costs

Rent would depend on what type of room you would want (single or double) but in general it would cost around $6000-$8000 USD for on campus accommodation and the 15/10 meal plan. Students are required to purchase meal plans if living on campus and I would recommend downgrading to a 10 meal plan per week as you tend to eat out at times. Food wasn't the cheapest so dining out isn't an option you would use frequently. I'd definitely recommend saving quite a bit of money for travelling between states as flights are quite expensive. However, entertainment like concerts and other shows are relatively cheap ($40 USD and upwards)

Professional Development

The American academic system is quite hands on and as someone who tends to be quite reserved, I learnt to open out quite a bit in my classes. I had to do weekly presentations which helped me build my confidence and my public speaking skills. I had to work on new projects in teams of 4 which further enhanced my creative thinking skills and my ability of working in teams. I believe the development of these skills has contributed to my professional growth and hopefully with the knowledge and insight I've gained from this exchange, I would be able to stand out from the crowd.

Highlight

The best part of my experience were the lifelong friendships I've made! I was able to meet some wonderful people from across the globe in such a short time and we are already planning a reunion!
I was also able to experience my first ever snowfall (and a snow storm) which was super exciting, especially for someone who comes from a tropical country! 
And another highlight would be the places I got to visit during my exchange like New Orleans, Canada and Niagara Falls! It was interesting exploring different cultures and different cuisines!

Top tips

Firstly, I would definitely recommend participating in a student exchange! 
- Do a lot of research regarding the country you want to live in and the university
- Choose on-campus housing if you can as it helps with making friends
- Don't let the fear of not being able to adapt to a new environment stop you from going on exchange. You will eventually adapt to the changes. Give it time.
- Be organised with your application and get everything done early. 
- Give enough time for your visa. (Also do research on that)