Exchange to Purdue University – by Jon Sheldrick

Organising subjects, accommodation, insurance, money, and everything else for exchange can be a stressful ordeal which is quickly forgotten as soon as you board the plane to leave. Walking to the plane all alone can be daunting for some but as soon as you step onto the plane and find your seat, it all becomes so surreal. It is the beginning of the most exciting time of your life.

Arriving in Indiana to be greeted by -25°C temperature reminded me just how far away from home I really am. The first few days are spent meeting new people from all around the world which is made easy due to all of the induction programs hosted by Purdue’s International Society. Everyone else is in the same situation as yourself and you never feel alone from this moment and beyond.

Moving into your dorm and meeting your roommate is another experience that comes with living on campus. You’re now sharing a room with a complete stranger where the room is smaller than your own private bedroom at home. Although this may seem uncomfortable at first thought, this person will most likely be from a different country to you and hence help you adapt, and be welcoming because you’re a foreigner and Americans love Aussies. Living in a dorm room and eating at the dining courts quickly becomes comfortable and having a bigger room just seems unnecessary.

The dorm building is home to about 500 people, so there is an 100% chance that when you go downstairs to the common room or just walk through the hallway, you will meet a bunch of new people who you will see many times throughout the semester. Americans are insanely nice people and love to be friends with you, no matter how annoying I may have got. The experience of living in a dorm is much different to Australia as you will always be surrounded by your friends no matter what time of day it might be, making those 4am nights doing homework so much more bearable.

College in America is very different to Australia, although the classes may seem similar; the lifestyle of college is so much more fun. Weekends are full of trips to various cities, football and basketball games, special events around campus, and frat parties. Frat parties are an important American tradition that needs to be experienced, from free drinks to meeting new people to beer pong to ending up at Maccas (Americans will not understand what ‘Maccas’ means) at 5am with a group of people you met that night.

Studying abroad was easily the most enjoyable six months of my life. Being able to enjoy a totally different college experience, making friends from all over the world, and travelling around after all contributed to making this once in a lifetime experience so incredible.

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