Xiaoyang - University of Texas at Austin

Bachelor of Finance
Semester 1, 2018

Academic experience

I studied four courses as follows:
1) Popular Literature and Culture in Modern China
2) Introduction to Statistics
3) Physiological Basis of Conditioning
4) Wide world of sports business

There were two things about the academic system I enjoyed a lot, firstly, there were some extra credits in each class in order to encourage students to go further in their studies. For example, attending a guest lecture, taking a fit test and attending a personal training session. Secondly, the variation of assessment is interesting, for example, our professor asked us to make a video clip to review a movie we were interested in the course called Popular Literature and Culture in Modern China.
I did meet some challenges during my studies at UT, and the biggest one was course enrollment.UT required regular students to enroll in classes first, which resulted in that the courses I had planned to take were unavailable. So I had to change my study plan. I experienced a hard time when I tried to contact UQ and enrolled in courses at the same time. Due to the help of my academic advisor, I got arranged for the class I was interested in.

Personal experience

I gained a lot from the exchange. I made lots of friends who are not only from Texas but also from all over the world. I met lots of exchange students from Italy, France, and South Korea, and we hung out all the time. And I traveled to Houston, San Antonio, New Orleans, and California.

Accommodation

I lived off-campus. I enjoyed my private bedroom and bathroom. And my summary of accommodation is as follows:
on-campus - advantages:
1) Convenient, you can get up around 8:50 in the morning and still attend the class at 9 in time.
2) The dining halls in the campus offer discounts to the students who live on the campus, and if you are too lazy to cook, the cafeteria in the campus will be a good choice because it offers a good selection of food every day, and you will definitely like it!
Disadvantages:
1) less private space
2) you will never know who is your roommate, and sometime you will get trouble in getting along with them.
3) It is extremely hard to get approved to live on the campus, and you must apply very early.
4) you cannot invite your friends to a party at your place.

Off-campus - advantages:
1)more private space
2)you can cook rather than eating at the dining hall every day
3)most exchange students choose to live in CO-OP, which makes it easier to make friends and party together.
Disadvantages:
1)It is not as safe as on-campus living, and the crime rate around UT is pretty high. Robbery does occur!!
2)The student apartment becomes noisy during the weekend, and if you are not a party person, you will be annoyed.

You can get detailed information about on-campus living from the university's official website.
UT students who live off-campus usually choose from following three areas:
1) West campus, I lived here and I highly recommend west campus because it is the nearest one to UT campus. But the rent is relatively high.
2) North campus, located in the north of UT, the rent is also high, very quiet.
3) Riverside, located in the south of UT, fine scenery. The rent is relatively low.

Costs

I paid rent $1000 per month including utility bills. The food price is cheaper than Australia, but it really depends on your options, fast food like pizza and burgers are really cheap. The public transportation is free to UT students, so you can take free buses to downtown or supermarkets. Hanging out is cheaper than Australia, and you can even get $1 beer in the bar near UT campus. For travel, the ticket prices are relatively expensive if you depart from Austin rather than those big cities like Houston and Dallas. My trip to Yosemite in California took me nearly $1100 in total. To sum up, I would recommend budgeting $18000 for rent, food and travel.

Professional Development

I've improved my communication skills by volunteering at SXSW 2018, which is one of the biggest music festivals in the USA, I talked to lots of visitors and met a lot of friends who did volunteering as well. And my teamwork ability has been developed since my backpacking trip in a national park, and I learned how to play a good role in a team.

Highlight

The highlight of my exchange was volunteering at SXSW 2018, and my 9-day backpacking trip in Yosemite national park was wonderful and unforgettable. Also, as a big fan of sports, I enjoyed watching a live NBA game.

Top tips

1) Make sure your courses get approved.
2) Look through the syllabus of each course and have a good understanding of the assessment.
3) Schedule your classes wisely so you can be free from Friday to Monday.
4) Austin is music capital of USA so make sure you check out SXSW in March or ACL in October. And many bars offer live music during weekends.
5) UT outdoor center provides many outdoor activities that you will definitely enjoy.
6) Grab the opportunities for volunteer work and apply for internship programs at UT (some programs can even prolong the length of visa validity).