Matthew Cornwell, Bachelor of Business and ICT
Exchange to Colorado State University, The USA 2016
What an amazing adventure exchange is! I attended Colorado State University for the first half of 2016 and completed four business subjects in my time there. Four countries, sixteen states in the U.S and over twenty plane rides later I can definitely say it was an incredible six months. I jumped on the bus in Colorado with no idea what the next six months would hold; I knew nobody and I didn’t even have a return flight home. All the exchange students who were predominantly from Australia and New Zealand became close friends straight away and my weekends and travelling was mostly spent with them. From the helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon, the boat ride at Niagara Falls, Spring break road trips starting from Las Vegas, Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, that week in New York or that underwater cave you explored in Mexico, you will definitely make lifelong friends.
Colorado is a beautiful place and all of the students at the university are so friendly, navigating the snow on the way to class is something I was pleasantly surprised about as well! Any snow after March typically melted the next day, although we did have two snow days called with cancelled classes! Trips to the snow are offered through the university or the ski clubs as well as snowshoeing and ice climbing in winter and I thoroughly recommend doing every activity you can. The University itself has some of the best facilities I have ever seen, with a basketball stadium, athletics track, football stadium and an indoor rock-climbing wall to name a few. The on-campus meal plan suited me perfectly and it was only a short walk to a buffet style meal everyday, with some planning you might be able to live right next to your faculties building which proved to be super convenient for all of my classes.
I honestly could talk about how amazing the experience was forever and I recommend exchange to everyone. I guarantee you will have the best experience regardless of where you go and save as much money as you can so that you can say yes to every opportunity. I remember reading these testimonials myself and I was definitely nervous when I applied, but you definitely need to do it!
Min Lee, Bachelor of Environmental Design
University of Krakow, Poland 2016
Most memorable trip of my life!
First and foremost, I need to say, I am so glad that I went for this student exchange program and Krakow was absolutely wonderful!
The most memorable thing from this student exchange experience was the city itself where I studied, Krakow, a medieval city, an old capital of Polish people. Each and every detail on the castle wall and the path I walk between campuses and apartment is still clear as crystal in my mind now. The elevator sped through hundreds of meters of rock in Salt Mine, those stone blocks on Krakow city castle wall, Wawel Castle and the dragon, Vistula River when it was raining, those Polish old ladies smiling at me in the tram…… They haunt me, in an ineffably good way.
Interestingly, I was able to witness the national student festival held on the Krakow Main Square. There was a huge ceremony in the event where the city mayor passed an antique key to the head of student union of the biggest university in the city. During that event, everyone was costumed in all sorts of fancy dresses and characters, and they marched around the square joyously.
Another really valuable thing about this exchange experience was the opportunity for me to travel to a good number of countries during free time. During this 4 months of exchange period, I managed to travel to Netherland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy and of course Poland.
I met a real good friend there. He was from Belgium. I went to Belgium and visited him during a semester break. We also met in Rome and travel together before I depart Italy back to Australia.
Life is fair. Happy times come with unfortunate moments too. Two of these sad events worth mentioning were, first, I had to wait for a total a good 11 hours of flight delay on the initial trip to Europe, and second, I did not get any scholarship or monetary support when it was very crucial to me.
All in all, I am not sure whether there will be any other chance for me to live that long in Europe again and live again like a newcomer. What I can be sure of is, I will cherish this precious memorable life experience for the rest of my life.
Laura Courto, Bachelor of Marine and Antarctic Science
Exchange to the University of East Anglia, the UK 2016
Having successfully completed my semester studying at the University of East Anglia I have been compelled to make an attempt at describing my exchange experience.
Being a well-known poor traveller and having never travelled internationally, for me, getting on the plane was the most daunting task. Security, customs, 23 hours in one of those tiny chairs, unintentionally becoming a drug mule for some very shifty characters. I will admit to being more than a touch apprehensive. What happened after I arrived in the UK didn’t bother me at all. Where was I going once I arrived? How was I going to get to my next destination? People seemed extremely concerned that I could only provide, at best, vague answers to these questions. I just remember thinking how irrelevant these things seemed. All I could think was that I would be somewhere, doing something, and that things would probably happen. If not, I had over 2 weeks before needing to be at school, so there was plenty of time to just be, a thought in which I found great comfort.
My first night in Norwich was the second hardest part of my trip. I was tired, drenched, hungry, and had a splitting headache from 8 hours of train travel. I arrived at my University accommodation in the dark and the rain, with nothing more than a weeks’ worth of clothes and my computer and I had no idea where I was, or at least where I was in relation to anywhere else. So I sat on my rock hard mattress with a packet of vending machine crisps and had a heated argument with myself about how much of an idiot I was for flying half way across the world to live out of a backpack. Three packets of crisps, two chocolate bars and an episode of Gilmore Girls later, I had made my bed with my pre-purchased linen, unpacked my bag, read my orientation program and couldn’t believe that just an hour before I had been in such a state of despair. That was it. My most difficult time abroad, other than actually leaving Tasmania (due to drug mule related concerns), lasted an hour and was remedied with a rapid intake of calories.
Undoubtedly I was extremely lucky to have sailed through the entire semester on what I am told is called the “honeymoon period.” My exchange experience has for the most part been comprised of ‘ups.’ I made an international contingent of new friends, travelled, saw a squirrel, hit up the West End, went to a Premier League game, had haggis in Edinburgh, fondue in Switzerland, pizza in Rome, to name a few. All the things that exchange promised me. I suppose they are considered clichés for a reason.
All I can say is that a semester is not enough and I have already started planning my return to the UK and Europe. I wholeheartedly believe that spending some time at UEA was the best decision I have ever made in my many years of education.
Lucy Wilkes, Bachelor of Environmental Design
University of Krakow, Poland 2016
Where to begin? I’ll start by saying my exchange in Poland was a life changing experience and one I will never forget. I learnt so many valuable things while living in Krakow and studying at the University of Technology. Particularly, how even though people all around the world have different beliefs and different ways of life, when you put a group of multi cultured people in the same room, magic can happen, and by magic I mean life-long friendships and the bonds that are created. This has encouraged me to aspire to always be the best person I can and continue to explore the world in search of finding more and more people like the ones I met travelling and on exchange to share experiences with and learn from.
I was lucky enough to see a lot of Europe while overseas and with Poland being located in such a central part of Europe it was easy for me to jump on a bus and paradise off for the weekend or a couple of days here and there. One of my favourite things about Krakow, besides its beautiful old buildings and medieval atmosphere, was how cheap everything was, I mean really cheap! You could get a gourmet burger for $5 and a beer for only $1. Speaking about beer, Krakow provides a good party and with Exchange (or ‘Erasmus’ as they call it in Europe) being such a popular thing to do, there are so many well-organized activities, parties and events that help you meet people and really experience Polish lifestyles.
As a student studying Architecture, it was an unbelievable experience to go to Europe and first hand see famous buildings and structures that I have studied at Uni. I even remember sitting in lectures in my first and second years and wondering if I’ll ever get to see any of these buildings. The exchange program gave me this opportunity and I have gained so much knowledge and culture you can’t get only from learning in classroom.
The main thing I learnt or the motto that came from my experience is that I now know that my dreams can become a reality if I put my mind to it. 12 months ago I never would have thought I could spend 6 months away from my friends and loved ones, but boy, did I prove that wrong and boy, would I love to challenge myself again!