Semester Exchange in the United States

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetEmily Cocks
Flinders Degree: Bachelor of International Tourism
Program: Semester exchange Semester 2 2016
Destination: University of Arizona, the United States

Do it, do it, do it! Things can get tough at times being away, but it is well worth the experience.”


Meeting new people, the trips away and hearing about other people’s.

Before You Go
I was nervous on missing home and because I didn’t know anyone, hadn’t been to the States before etc.. Yes, as expected- I made friends, and found my grounding after a few weeks once I was settled.

The University of Arizona had an international orientation week which was held 2 weeks prior to classes commencing. This involved campus tours, collecting all our necessary resources, meeting with academic advisors if required, ensuring all visa and other documentation is correct, and social events.

Study Life

  • The work load was quite different, I found most my topics had more little assessment pieces which weren’t worth much percentage where Flinders has less assessments but are worth more of your grade. For example, for one class in particular I was required to complete lengthy online discussions each week – each projected to take 5 hours.
  • Also, the exams/finals system is different. Instead of having one big exam at the end of the semester, worth a huge percentage of your grade, and covering the whole semesters content – as Flinders does, UA topics usually have multiple exams. For me on average it was 3 or 4 for each class, and they were sectioned throughout the semester and usually worth from around 10-20% each test/exam.
  • I didn’t have an academic advisor, but there was always someone there to help if I needed it. The international student services building is also a short walk from campus, which was really helpful- I only really went to them though when I was organizing my social security number for my job, and to organize extending my exchange for an additional semester.

Off-campus student accommodation located off campus down town (735 at the cadence, down town). The dorms on campus are pretty much all freshman students, so aged around 18 whereas the off campus student accommodation was more independent living in houses/apartments with house mates, and in a complex surrounded by students. It really depends what kind of lifestyle you want, and how independent you are, I guess.

Money Matters

  • Housing Cost
    AU$600-$800 per month with self- catering facilities.
  • Living Expenses
    $735 per month for my 3 bed/3 bath apartment + $20 electricity. No more than $150 for textbooks – can buy them second-hand off Amazon, or rent them. Hard to say with travel and entertainment because I was constantly doing things all the time, but I always just tried to choose the cheaper options so that I could spread it out.

Financial assistance
I received the full amount of the OS-Help loan for my exchange – $6500. I also received the $1000[RA Simpson International] scholarship from the [Flinders] university. My Centrelink payments also continued – I was already on youth payments in Australia though – I just had to submit a form saying I was moving to study overseas.


  • Typical Day
    Go to classes, see my friends in lunch breaks, study at the university or at home, usually take a nap when I got home! (especially at the start when we were socializing a lot of nights), go to the sports.
  • Differences
    College lifestyle in America is different to Australia as expected, with greek life and most people live out of home in student complexes which is great. Not massive culture differences.
  • Making friends
    I found myself to make friends very quickly. I met a great bunch of people in international orientation – mainly Australians, and along the way our group expanded, with Americans and other exchange students. We expanded by involving our house mates, and introducing other friends to other exchange students.

Homesickness, of course. I would call my friends and family when I was really homesick just to chat, but I knew I’d see them again. Finances yes, but I used a credit card near the end.

Advice to Flinders Students Thinking about Overseas Study Opportunities
Leave lots of wiggle room with your plans, e.g. add the flexible flights insurance – in case you want to extend your trip a bit, don’t book everything in advance, wait until you’re there and work it out as you go. Good luck!

Last BBall game
Last BBall game
Surf Trip
Surf Trip
UA's football match
UA’s football match
UA campus is stunning!
UA campus is stunning!
The other exchange girls and me dressed as the Spice Girls for Halloween
The other exchange girls and me dressed as the Spice Girls for Halloween
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