Cara - Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Bachelor of Exercise and Nutrition Science
Semester 1, 2018
RUmarkable semester!

Academic experience

In my exchange semester at Rutgers, I undertook five courses (a study load equivalent to four courses at UQ). These included Advanced Exercise Physiology, Sport Marketing, Introduction to Sociology, General Psychology and Food Analysis. As the BENS degree requires elective subjects to be selected from a limited list, and most of these courses at UQ did not have equivalent courses at Rutgers, I had some difficulty with subject selection prior to the exchange. Also, one of the courses I had selected in my study plan turned out to be overfilled, so the first week of the semester was spent searching for an alternative course that I could gain credit for and fit into my timetable. The UQ Abroad advisors and the HABS faculty provided help with this, so I was able to gain approval to study Sociology as an unspecified elective and still receive credit for my degree. 

The classes for three of my courses were conducted in small classroom settings and the other two in lecture halls. The assessment style was not too different to UQ’s, but it did tend toward more frequent pieces worth smaller amounts. A major difference to here was the final assessment period. Rather than a whole SWOTVAC week, after classes end there was a weekend and two allocated study days, then exam period began. This period spanned just a few days, unlike the two weeks we have here.

Personal experience

Studying abroad was a great opportunity to experience a different way of life and broaden my perspective. As a result, I developed a greater level of independence and self-assurance. 

I was able to travel by bus to visit New York, Washington DC and Boston, as well as visiting Montréal on a road trip, and flying to Miami and Chicago.

Accommodation

The Rutgers University campus is divided into five smaller campuses, each approximately ten minutes drive apart, accessible by free Rutgers-operated buses. Most students have classes on at least two different campuses. 

I lived on-campus in the University Center Apartments, which was in a convenient central location on the College Ave campus. All the exchange students were allocated to this building. It was a five minute walk away from the grocery store, the Rutgers bus stop, the NJ transit train station and the bus stop for travel into Port Authority. So I was lucky to be able to travel into Manhattan in an hour! The apartments themselves were simple: two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a living room, shared between four students. They had basic furnishings, but we had to purchase kitchenware, cleaning supplies and bedding. I loved being in the same building as my friends. It was also convenient to have a gym right at the ground floor of the building, which was free to access for Rutgers students.

Costs

The major expenses were as follows:
- on-campus accomodation ($4,000 USD)
- mandatory student health insurance ($600 - $1,000 USD, I selected ISO health insurance instead of the university insurance as it was less expensive)
- flights to the US ($1,500 - $2,500 AUD depending on dates and airline)
- acquisition of US visa ($1,000 AUD including trip to Sydney for interview at US consulate) 
- food (I found the grocery store prices similar to here, but if you don’t want to cook, the university offers a varying levels of meal plans for use at the dining hall or selected on-campus vendors e.g. 10 meals a week for the duration of the semester for $2,300 USD) 
- entertainment (generally I found activities to be priced similarly to here, except in NYC)
- travel

In total my exchange semester and the following month of travel cost approximately $20k.

Professional Development

The semester abroad presented me with many opportunities to cultivate my problem-solving, organisational, and communication skills. It also provided the chance to network with American students and exchange students from around the globe.

Highlight

The top highlight for me was spending Spring Break in Miami. Runner-up highlights include experiencing snow for the first time, attending a Hillary Clinton interview at Rutgers, and seeing the Knicks play at Madison Square Garden!

Top tips

My advice would be to stay organised with course enrolment and check that your timetable works out before the semester starts. I would also advise against leaving travel plans to the last minute as I found this to be a stressful experience that could have been avoided!