Yolanda Rogers

Date: SP5, 2014
Degree Program: Bachelor of Media Arts
Host University: Buffalo State College
Host Country: USA

Why did you choose your host university?

I chose Buffalo State College as my host university because I wanted to attend an American university that would be the best fit for my degree. As a Film and Television major, Buffalo State College also had a Film and Television Arts degree, so I felt it would be the beneficial to my degree and learning. Buffalo State also had a large focus on the arts, which let me know that the education in my degree would be of a high quality.

I also liked the location of Buffalo State College, as I wanted to experience something quite different to my lifestyle back home. It was in a city environment, which is different to in the country where I live back at home, and it was a cold climate with snow in the winter. This was something I had always wanted to experience. Adding to this, it was an eight hour bus ride to New York City, which I had always wanted to visit and so that was an added bonus after deciding to attend Buffalo State.

Student Yolanda Rogers - USAWhat was the university like?

Buffalo State College was a fantastic university and I enjoyed my time there immensely. As an arts student, there were a lot of events/performances to do with the arts and humanities, which added to my enjoyment there. I took 4 classes for the semester and all of my classes were great. These classes, two of which were focused on screenwriting and the other two focused on theatre, were interesting and I enjoyed going to every week. I had class for four days of the week and attendance was important for all classes, with your grades being lowered if you missed enough classes. I didn’t miss a day of class for the semester, so this was not an issue for me.

Most of my classes were two days a week but one class was only one day, but for a longer amount of time. For my classes at Buffalo State, there was an assignment due every week for one class and an assignment every two or three weeks for the other classes. This made the assignments more frequent than at UniSA but gave you more chances if you didn’t do well on some assignments. I found the marking to be in line with my Film and Television/Theatre classes at UniSA, perhaps a little easier. I felt there was less pressure as assignments were worth 5-10% each as opposed to big 50% assignments. 

There is a library on campus that is open until around 10pm on weekdays and has study areas open 24 hours a day, with a large amount of books/resources to help with assignments. The student union had a bookstore with school merchandise and textbooks, a Starbucks in the bookstore, a dining hall and ‘retail’, which was like a food court. I ate at retail and sometimes the dining hall nearly every day, using ‘Dining dollars’ money I put on my student ID card.

What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?

I have learnt so much from this experience and will always be grateful for getting the chance to do exchange. I have learnt to try to take every opportunity and be open to positive change in your life. I also felt that this experience has allowed me to grow a lot as a person and be more independent, as well as confident in myself and the choices I make.

I feel like I have also added to my film and television production knowledge significantly, particularly getting a different country’s perspective on things, which, along with my time at UniSA, has helped me think about what steps I would like to make when I graduate. I have gained lifelong friends that I know will always be there for me, despite living in a different country and I have gained incredible memories that I will never forget. I know when I look back on this experience I will remember it being one of the best things I ever did.

What accommodation options were available to you?  How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?

Buffalo State College required all of the exchange students to live on campus for the duration of the semester. They recommended living in North Wing, although you could live in Towers 1, 2, 3 or 4, as well as the Student Apartment Complex (STAC), although STAC was more expensive per semester. Due to the large amount of intake for the Fall 2014 semester, some of the exchange students had to live at the nearby Canisius College, although they were moved back onto the Buffalo State campus when the accommodations were available. I was not one of these students, although I did visit other students at Canisius and the dorms were of high quality.

I chose to live in North Wing and I think I made a great decision, as North Wing was right in the middle of campus and in close proximity to the student union, which meant I only had to walk two minutes to grab a meal to eat. It also made me only have to walk two minutes in either direction to any one of my classes, making me less stressed about being late to class. It cost me just over $3,500 US dollars to live in North Wing for the semester, which while it was a large sum to pay in a few payments, was reasonable and the dorm rooms were larger than expected, so I was satisfied. It also made it less stressful when the accommodation was paid off early in the semester, as you didn’t have to worry about it for the rest of the semester. I would recommend North Wing to any other students going to Buffalo State, as the suite style living was great and led to me making some of the best friends I had there.

Student Yolanda Rogers - USADescribe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries? 

During my time in the United States, I travelled both locally and to Canada. A group of us exchange students all went to Toronto, Canada for a weekend and it was a great experience. I also travelled to New York City multiple times, due to the close proximity to Buffalo, which I enjoyed immensely.

After the semester was over, I stayed in Long Island for a few weeks and then went on holiday with a friend, staying in places including New York City, Orlando, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas, before coming home. I felt that while I was over there I would try to travel when possible, while I had the opportunity. All of the places I travelled to were fantastic and I would travel to each of them again without hesitation. 

Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.

I adjusted to life in Buffalo instantly, which was something I didn’t expect to happen so quickly. I did not experience jet lag and though I did experience some homesickness, it was not bad enough to put a damper on my experience. I feel that I was lucky in this regard, as I was positive and excited to make the most of every opportunity for the whole semester, although I would recommend any incoming exchange students to prepare themselves well before leaving, as jet lag and homesickness is very likely. I prepared myself a lot before leaving and was therefore surprised to find how easy it was for me to adjust to life in Buffalo.

I put things up in my dorm room from home, as well as things such as posters of TV Shows I loved on the walls, which added a sense of familiarity to my surroundings. I think this helped me relax into my new living situation. I also skyped my family at least once a week and talked to friends on social media all the time, so that made me less homesick.

All the people I met when I first got there were lovely and were willing to answer any questions in regard to the college and Buffalo. They were also supportive and people I met in class and in the dorms invited me to many things, trying to include me. The American students really liked talking to Australians and were fascinated with things you had to say, which led to lots of great friendships, so exchange students don’t be afraid to say hello and start a conversation. The first person I had a real conversation with was one of my suitemates, and she ended up becoming one of the best friends I have ever had, so I’m glad I was outgoing from the very beginning. Everyone in my suite got on great too, so I was lucky in that regard as when you went back to your dorm, you always had someone to talk to. I met new people through classes, college events and in the dorms.

Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?

I think this exchange will help me greatly in my future career. As a Media Arts student, I felt that my professors taught me important things about the industry in the United States, which with my teachers back home, has given me a good idea of the film and television industry and the differences between both countries. It has also allowed me to collaborate with other film students, who I hope I can one day work with again.

This exchange has also helped my film and theatre skills through advice from my professors. Most fundamentally though, I feel like the film and television industry is a worldwide industry and therefore learning in a different country is immensely helpful to my career. I feel that having student exchange on my resume after I graduate will be something that is impressive and will potentially give me something extra in job applications.

Student Yolanda Rogers - USAWhat advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?

I would strongly recommend the exchange program to anyone who was considering doing it, as it is an incredible experience that you will be glad you participated in. If a student is hesitant or worried, I would recommend sitting down with an adviser and discussing their options and talk about what their worries are, so they can work through them. I know I was unsure how I would be, as it is a big change to move to a different country for a long amount of time.

However, the time went so fast for me and ultimately this exchange helped better me as a person and I will always be grateful for the opportunity. With this in mind, I would recommend it to anyone who has thought about doing it, because the experience is simply incredible, but I would recommend talking to advisers and other people who have previously done exchange to work through your worries/hesitations, so you can decide the right decision for you.

Top Tips:

Be outgoing and talk to people in your dorms, on campus and in classes, as well as friends of friends. Get to know people as you will make incredible friendships and learn a lot of things about the country/people of the country you’re living in. The people you spend your time with and the friendships you make while on exchange will make your experience that much better, so don’t be afraid to say hello, people will be excited to talk to you and learn about you!

Areas of study and research

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