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Exchange to Indiana University – by Hamish Collins

Do you want to live in a foreign country? Immerse yourself in a new culture? Meet new people and make so many new friends from all over the world? Become independent and live out of home? Get a new perspective on life? And party like you never have before?! If you answered yes to any of these questions then you have to do an exchange! Doing an exchange is positively life changing! This statement is most likely overstated and cliché, but none the less, it’s the truth. In all honesty, words can’t accurately describe the experiences you will have on your exchange program. The whole thing is just so surreal. A trailer of my own experience would highlight snowboarding Avalanche backcountry slopes in Jackson hole, white water rafting down the Nantahala river in the Smokey mountains, partying hard in Indiana at little 500 which is the greatest college party week in America, snowshoeing to Lake Michigan which had begun to freeze over, climb angels landing in Zion national park and hang over a 1000ft+ cliff at glacier point in Yosemite! What I’m trying to express is every exchange is different and uniquely your own. It is so much more than just studying in a foreign country, it’s an opportunity to live and learn in another culture. 


Even though there are quite a lot of western similarities between the United States and Australia, I found the U.S. College experience to be a unique culture of its own, completely different to anything I had ever experienced. in my life! Being in a college town everything is built, based and revolves around the college. When I first arrived at Indiana University in the rather small town of Bloomington in Indiana a few days before orientation it was a ghost town.  What happen next turned everything upside down and I was thrusted into the true college experience! I found out why Indiana University is in the big 10 conference. Over 40,000+ students from all over the United States and the World moved into this tiny college town and I was given my first glimpse at the real college experience. What could only be described as a scene from any great college movie, like animal house, there were people everywhere and parties were abundant.  I came to realise that this would continue throughout my entire exchange, much to the discontent of my liver. I was in awe as I walked through the beautiful college campus. This vibrant social hub was thriving and allowed me to meet so many new people, which would become the start of so many cherished friendships. This is when the first wave hit me that I was in a completely foreign environment and I was completely independent. I can only describe this feeling as an absolute rush of excitement as it meant that it was up to me to make the most of my exchange and push myself to seize every opportunity. I was living on my own and the freedoms were endless. This was totally new for me, it was so different to anything I had ever experienced studying at Adelaide University.


Whilst allowing me to live independently, it fostered a lot of personal growth helping me become more responsible and mature. This complete immersion will open your mind and develop a deeper appreciation to the many different ways of life. It provides a means to learn, grow and become a better person. Exchange will give you the chance to create a whole new life where you will meet a range of different people and without a doubt create life-long friendships! You will meet individuals from all over the globe, learning more from them than you ever will in a text book or classroom. These people will share your experiences and you will create lifelong memories with them. As a result, you will then have friends and connections throughout the world that will be able to help you later in life, especially because once you finish exchange all you want to do is travel the world!  You don’t fully understand the influence you have had the on others until the end of your exchange where you will come to realise you have a significant impact on their lives. More importantly though, this is also when you will realise the immense impact they have had on you and truly appreciate how they have changed your life for the better. You will find that while studying abroad you will be constantly challenging your comfort zone and continually growing, discovering new ways to push yourself. This personal growth and development will be one of the most positive changes in your life an undoubtedly you will be better for it. This is without a doubt what I was fortunate enough to experience whilst studying at Indiana University in the United States. The only negative aspect of exchange is that it is not long enough and over to soon. My liver may never forgive me, but I wouldn’t change any aspect of my exchange. It was easily the best year of my life and I will never forget the time I’ve had while studying abroad. I will forever be an IU Hoosier for life! 

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