Tessa - University of South Carolina

B. Business Management
Semester 2, 2017

Academic experience

I used general electives on my exchange which allowed me much more freedom. I completed criminology, dance and sociology subjects. These subjects were not challenging, the assessment was frequent but not difficult. The biggest adjustment was compulsory attendance. I will say that registering for classes was definitely the most challenging part of the semester, we were not given help or guidance, a lot of classes that had been pre-approved were full, and many people did not get ideal timetables or classes. I know after my semester they were using a different method for this, so hopefully they will have it better sorted for future semesters. I heavily relied on asking advice from my American friends to deal with this.

Personal experience

On exchange I made several life long friendships with both Americans and other Australians. I was able to visit 8 States in total and also took a trip to the Bahamas. Once I had arrived in the US it was super easy and affordable to travel. The American college experience was everything I could have dreamed of and more.

Accommodation

I lived on campus in a apartment style dorm called Desaussure. We were right on the horseshoe in the picturesque middle of campus which was the ideal location. We had 4 girls in our apartment, with our own rooms and shared bathroom, kitchen and living. We also had the great benefit of having a washing machine and dryer.

Although you can't request a specific building, you choose learning communities. The best way to do this is to review the housing options on the USC website and this tells you the learning communities of each building, so you can better align your preferences.

I loved being on the horseshoe, as we were surrounded by other exchange students and Americans. There is always something going on, and people around you to support you. Having our own rooms also gave us personal space when needed. Our Room Mentor was also great!

Budget

Outside my student housing.

Housing and insurance were my most expensive costs. I would recommend utilising the USC insurance waiver, the UQ insurance is enough to waive the USC insurance, I did not do this and it was an unnecessary expense of approximately $1000.

Wait until you get to campus to choose a meal plan, that way you can see what your friends are doing and what will work best for you. Some of my best memories were meals in the dining halls with all the other exchange students. As we had a kitchen I purchased the smallest plan of 5 meals and this suited me perfectly, along with getting around $40 of groceries every 2 weeks.

Living in a college town transportation was fairly easy and everything was very close, however public transport is lacking. The university provided a lot of free transport to get house supplies, groceries and to football games. There were also lots of free transport services set up to take you and bring you home on a night out. When needed I used Uber which was affordable when sharing with others.

The university always had free events and entertainment going on such as weekly movie nights, and daily markets. Travel from Columbia was relatively easy. If flights from Columbia were expensive we would catch a shuttle to the Charlotte airport and fly from there. There is a shuttle service for $50 each way, that drops you door to door at any hour. I found that the guide provided by UQ was very helpful, however I also tried to take over a bit more money that budgeted, I wanted to be able to say yes to every opportunity that came my way.

Professional development

Having made connections and networking whenever I could, this will contribute to my goal of one day working in the United States. This experience helped me broaden my knowledge, and gain confidence and independence that will be ideal in the world force.

Highlight

Game days and college life in general were by far the highlights of my experience. It is a whole different culture and world to university in Australia. Southern hospitality is in an abundance and everyone would really do anything to help you out. My whole experience was incredible and I could not recommend it enough.

Top tips

Aussies at USC.
  1. Try and plan your timetable to have Friday's or Monday's off so that you can travel over the weekends.
  2. Make friends with an American who will take you home for Thanksgiving, this is not an experience you want to miss.
  3. Go to every game day, the atmosphere and tailgating is amazing.
  4. Volunteer as a tour guide to welcome incoming exchange students at UQ. I met several USC students here who helped me navigate my new life and became some of my best friends at college. They also answered any questions I had before I arrived on campus. 
  5. Just say YES!
Tessa - University of South Carolina