I studied at the University of Illinois In Semester One 2015. This experience was extremely beneficial in terms of both learning and socially. The University of Illinois is in a college town called Champaign which is a two hour drive from Chicago. This University really provided me with the ultimate American college experience complete with sororities, fraternities, cheerleaders, college sports, and many social events along with fantastic learning facilities and great professors. I had an amazing time and made so many friends. I would strongly encourage anyone who is looking for a lot of fun to apply to go on exchange to the University of Illinois.
I lived on campus in an apartment with three other students including another Australian girl on exchange and two American girls. It was great living with another girl who was in the same position as me because we could relate on many levels. However, it was more beneficial living with local students as they were extremely helpful with integrating us into American life and greatly enriched our experience. They also introduced us to many of their friends who become our friends too. I would highly recommend being outgoing and making friends with local students, as they can be very helpful and generous. The friends we made invited us to many social events, drove us around and provided places for us to stay in different cities. It is very easy to just be friends with the other exchange students, but being confident and making local friends completely changes the experience. It is easy to make friends because everybody loves the Australian accent!
The University of Illinois is a fantastic school with many different subjects within a diverse range of disciplines. I was very interested in the global studies program as it offered a range of new subjects that are not offered at the Adelaide University. I thoroughly enjoyed these subjects and the professors were knowledgeable and helpful. I found the assessments very rewarding and the professors were easy to contact and communicate with. I felt that I learnt a lot within the semester and it solidified my interest in global studies. I am now looking into doing further study in global studies due to these subjects and encouragement from my professors.
My semester involved many aspects as I combined travel with my college experience. One of my favorite experiences was going to Mexico for spring break with a sorority. We stayed in an amazing resort on the beach and had a wonderful time lying by the pool and experiencing the nightlife. I also took some long weekends to travel to nearby cities and states including Chicago and New York. This was an incredible opportunity and really made college feel like my home because I was always happy to return to the campus. After the semester was complete I traveled around America and Canada for two months before returning home. By the end of my time abroad I had been to three countries, twelve cities and four national parks across North America as well as successfully completing a semester of my degree. This really was an experience of a lifetime. I become more independent and learnt a lot about myself, others and the way the world works. I would highly encourage any student who is thinking about exchange to apply and find out what they can gain from this wonderful opportunity.