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Exchange at the University of Connecticut – by Rachel Wall

In January of 2014 I embarked Adelaide to commence my study abroad program at University of Connecticut in the United States. Upon arriving at ‘UConn’, the first and probably the most obvious difference that stood out to me was the difference in temperature. I had left Adelaide in the middle of a heatwave to find myself in the coldest winter North America had experienced in years. Much of my first day on campus was spent wandering around lost and confused in the snow, and I learnt the hard way that leaving your dorm without gloves, a beanie, a heavy duty winter jacket and boots was not a wise idea.

College life in the US is strikingly different to University in Australia. Typical American campuses such as UConn are located in small towns reasonably far away from major cities which don’t have a lot to offer aside from the University itself. The campuses themselves are huge – UConn has approximately 17 000 students enrolled, majority of which live on campus in dormitories that are generally shared with at least one other person. The University provides students with all necessary living supplies, giving them little reason to leave the college campus, which itself is comparable to a small town. On the UConn campus there were more than five dining halls open throughout the day, each with a huge variety of food, as well as a number of cafes, restaurants and bars. There was also a large gym with a pool and various sports fields.

Sport is a big part of American lifestyle, with most people following their favourite teams religiously. Students at UConn are particularly fond of their sports teams, especially the basketball team. The slogan ‘Bleed Blue’ (blue being the primary colour of UConn’s mascot) is proudly printed on college merchandise and various advertisements for events. While I was at UConn I was lucky enough to experience both the men’s and women’s basketball teams winning the championships, an event that made headlines all over America as well as internationally. The students engaged in massive celebrations following the wins, and the whole experience was definitely a highlight of my study abroad.

The semester I spent studying abroad at the University of Connecticut was an unforgettable experience, and I would recommend that anyone contemplating an exchange consider the United States as their destination. American people are extremely friendly and will go out of their way to help any tourist, especially an Australian. Participating in a study abroad is an incredible experience which teaches you a great deal about the culture and lifestyle of the host country you choose. It is a fantastic opportunity to take yourself out of your comfort zone and meet people from all over the world with whom you will form life-long friendships. I had an amazing time at UConn and the goodbyes at the end of semester were some of the hardest I’ve had to make. If I had an opportunity to re-live the time I spent in America I would do so in a heartbeat.

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