||Bachelor of Education (Primary and Middle)
||Buffalo State College
Why did you choose your host university?
Buffalo was closest to New York, a place I had always dreamed of seeing; also being so close to Niagara Falls and bordering Canada gave me more travel opportunities. Buffalo is locally known for their Education courses, so the classes were most similar, even exactly the same as what I am studying here at UniSA. Buffalo has a wide variety of courses, specialty facilities and staff services which was a great experience for any degree.
What was the university like?
Buffalo State College has a much bigger campus than my campus at Mawson Lakes. Buffalo is just a little bit smaller than Adelaide, but it has the same vibe; like a big country town. Buffalo have sports of all kinds; that I wish I had joined in on. (Exchange students can join sports teams) The college has on campus living and dining, with a food court, sports facilities, library and great resources. The university had so much going on and so much to offer.
I think I lucked out with classes because I had very minimal contact hours and great teachers. Class sizes are similar to here at UniSA in the sense that a lecture can have 100+ people and classes can be as small as 10 people. All the classes I was in were very interactive and became very close and supportive. In terms of assessment I was doing all levels of subjects and assessment was very manageable; far easier than my current course load. Buffalo has great resources; the library being open for 24 hours was definitely helpful for us living on campus. The teachers were also very supportive, especially because you’re an international student.
What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?
From this exchange experience I gained a lot of confidence and became very independent. I have also gained a great group of friends living all around the world who I frequently contact and know I will see again. After this experience I am more prepared for finishing my degree, moving out and into the real world. It has broaden possibilities for future employment globally.
What accommodation options were available to you? How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?
There were quite a few accommodation options available, with different living styles. I found the accommodation I chose; North Wing to be the best for me. It was affordable, very central and also where most of the other international exchange students resided. I shared a room with another girl and then had a suite with other rooms and a shared bathroom and living area. There are other options where you are in a single room sharing a living area and kitchen with less people but at almost double the price. The main reason I would recommend North Wing to other international exchange students is because of its openness. You get to know the people not only that you are living with but everyone in the building, and having the other exchange students to relate helps make it not only easier but more fun.
Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries?
Buffalo State College is located in Upper Western New York, only half hour from Niagara Falls and the Canadian border. During my time I frequented New York City, also travelling to Toronto in Canada and Daytona, Orlando and Miami Florida for Spring Break. We travelled to other cities in bordering states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. After my exchange I travelled with other international exchange students through California to visit Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and many places through Ohio, Indiana, Colorado, Michigan, Kansas, Carolina, Utah, Arizona and more. I would recommend booking travel early on during your exchange with other international exchange student so that you get a great deal and don’t spend it all during the exchange.
Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.
America is the same yet very different to Australia. We both speak English but in different forms; there are different words for some things. The Australian accent is very distinguishable in America, especially in Buffalo. Luckily they LOVE Australians! Food isn’t so different, neither the culture. One thing different for me was living away from home and in a college environment (which is exactly as you see on TV and in movies). Having an Australian accent made me friends. I became inseparable to the other international exchange students, who lived in my building and they are definitely life-long friends. Americans aren’t as laid back as Australians so don’t be afraid to be yourself and talk to new people. I met people in classes, at campus events and just around campus; people want to know your story so don’t be afraid to tell it.
Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?
As I mentioned, from this exchange I learnt more about possibilities to teach around the world. I am more prepared to move overseas for long periods of time because I have now successfully and happily done it before.
What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?
Take the risk, it’s worth it. While you’re there, make the most of it. It was one of the best experiences of my life and there is not one thing about it I regret. Every person I met who has been to Buffalo or on an exchange, has said they wish they had been for longer or they could go again. It’s not just the place, or the people, it’s a life changing, life long memory that is unlike any other.
Save lots, budget well, travel whenever and wherever you can and get involved in everything. Most importantly have FUN!