Charly - Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Bachelor of Arts
Semester 1, 2018

Academic experience

I studied philosophy courses as this was the main reason for my exchange. Rutgers has a great reputation and great department for philosophy, which made my academic experience thoroughly enjoyable and fulfilling. 

The academic system was of course very different, and this took quite a bit of getting used to. First, getting used to calling everyone Professor (even if the lecturer is a PhD student). Also getting used to the flexibility and freedom lecturers have with course content, teaching style and assessment. I quickly discovered we're rather spoiled with such in-depth ECP's at UQ, as very little information seems to be given for courses in America (or at least for Philosophy courses at Rutgers, which is all I have direct experience of). It was very interesting to experience such a different system to compare the two and consider the benefits and negatives of both.

Personal experience

I think the most important thing I gained from this experience is how I developed as a person. I mainly went for the academics, and of course enjoyed travelling and meeting new people, but overall I learned a lot about myself and changed quite a bit (for the better) and I think this is what I value most from my experience.

Accommodation

While I would have preferred to live off-campus, exchange students at Rutgers were required to live on-campus. The accommodation was terribly expensive and not particularly nice (which I'm told is standard for American on-campus accommodation), but it did mean all the exchange students were in the one apartment building together which made it easy to catch-up with people.

Costs

Accommodation was definitely the biggest expense. Because this was a one-off payment at the beginning of the semester, it meant my weekly expenses were just for food, travel and entertainment. If you didn't travel or go out much, you could probably get by on A$100/week. If you wanted to travel on the weekends, and maybe go out during the week, you'd want $150-200. And then any travelling before/after semester would be on top of that. I mostly made my own food which was the cheapest way to eat, as I found eating out to be a bit pricey (even though it's supposed to be cheap in the US). Food plans are pretty expensive, and the closest food hall is a 10-15 min walk from the apartment, but if you really don't like cooking or you want a typical American college experience, this option might be for you.

Professional Development

I think the experience of being taught a different type/style of philosophy in a very different environment was the biggest contributor to my professional development. Also being at a university with such an active philosophy community meant I was able to go along to a number of different events, both with the student club and also department-run seminars/conferences. I was also able to go to a conference in LA during spring break which was an amazing experience, and something I definitely would not have been able to do back here in Australia. All these things combined have contributed to my professional development.

Highlight

As I said before, my development as a person was the best thing I gained from this experience.

Top tips

Start planning early. I started thinking about exchange a couple of years before I actually went. Over this time I changed my mind a few times about which university/country I wanted to go to. However, this meant that when I finally decided on Rutgers I knew it was the best place for me to go.