CQUGlobal Outbound Exchange: Emma at Southern Utah University, USA
CQUniversity student Emma Maguire talks about her time as an exchange student at Southern Utah University in the USA.
What made me want to go exchange? I’ve always, always wanted to do it, I think. When I was in High School, I always wanted to do a 12-month exchange, just to any American High School I could find. I looked into a few of them, but being that I have a big family and [due to] my financial situation, I was never able to do it.
Then when I was in my bachelor’s degree, it got towards the end and I was like ‘This is my last chance, if I don’t do it now I’ll probably never do it’ so I just made the decision.
Southern Utah University campus is just beautiful. It was nothing like I’d ever seen before. The buildings were old and well looked after, but they were just stunning. Then when it snowed, oh my god! I was like a kid at Christmas. It was just beautiful.
I study a Bachelor of Theatre specialising in Music Theatre, and Utah was perfect for that because it has so many theatres and Southern Utah University actually hosts one of the biggest Shakespeare Festival’s in the United States, which was pretty amazing. To see that and get to be a part of that, and the facilities that they have there are amazing.
The classes were really cool. Really different to what we have here. I don’t know whether it was because the acting techniques and stuff were a little bit different over there, but everything was just really different but a great experience. They just laugh your accent, so as soon as they hear something different they’re like ‘Oh my god, don’t stop talking! Where are you from?’
It was really good to make friends. Over there is ridiculously friendly, it was unbelievable. I’ve heard people say that sometimes Americans can be a little bit arrogant, but I’ve literally never met a single person that I could say that about. They were all wonderful and so welcoming.
I learnt so much just about myself in general. I learned to grow and to change just without worrying about anything. It was amazing. I think the best thing about it was the people. I’ve made the best friends that I could ever have in my life and it was a three-month period that I was studying for. It’s ridiculous, you meet these people and they become your family very quickly, so I think that was probably the best part of it.
The first experience I had that sort of blew my mind and I was like ‘Yeah, I’m in America, this is ridiculous’ was a football game that I went to with my friends. It was a college football game and we were wrapped and we were there in our game-day shirts, and they had this big pep rally and people were painting faces and just getting into the spirit of things. We got into the stadium and next minutes there’s a marching band and cheerleaders throwing people in the air and the whole team’s coming out. I was just in awe! I was like ‘Oh my god, this is ridiculous, this is something that I’ve only ever seen in movies before’, and I was sending photos to my family going ‘This is crazy!’ They’re like ‘Oh my god, it’s exactly like it is in the movies’ and it was. It was just surreal, it was such a strange experience.
But I think my favourite times when I was there was when I was travelling with my friends. I got to go to a few different places and just the experiences that we had together travelling to different places that we’d never seen before, and seeing these different cultures and buildings and all sorts of stuff, it was pretty amazing.
For the experience that I had I would have paid triple the amount of what I spent, honestly. I had a lot of commitments back home that I was still paying for as well, which didn’t help me in that situation, but honestly I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.
Do it! That would be the only piece of advice I can give you in choosing whether or not to do it. Just do it. You will never look back and you will never regret it. Save your money. Make it worth your while so you can do everything that you want to do while you’re over there. The experience is amazing and studying there and meeting all the people, it’s things that you’ll never regret and you’ll never forget.