Buffalo State College (USA)
Study Abroad Testimonial – Reuben
Choosing my host country, for me personally, was probably the simplest of tasks pertaining to the entire application process. I've always had an intrinsic interest in American university life, as well as the lifestyle of students and people my age living in such an extensive and culture-rich country. This, coupled with the fact I wouldn't have to learn a new language, further increased my confidence in choosing the United States of America as a primary target for my exchange. More challenging, however, was the aligning of my subjects here in Australia to the classes I would complete overseas; primarily because my main fear was that I would have to extend the duration of time it would take to complete my degree once I returned to Australia. Buffalo State College, being one of the only universities available that could accept mechanical engineering students in America, was the perfect choice (for me) for three reasons. Firstly, it offered all the subjects and necessary facilities required to contribute fully to my degree back home. Secondly, its large enrolment of nearly fifteen thousand people and large campus activity hub meant I would be at the forefront of everything American in terms of student life. Finally, Buffalo is located fifteen minutes away from Canada (amongst other cool places such as New York City, Chicago and Boston; albeit not 15 minutes away). It takes me 15 minutes to drive to my local shopping centre here in Gladstone. Knowing that I could take the same amount of time to enter another country whilst in Buffalo was essentially the icing on the cake, and gave me the confidence to put a large tick next to Buffalo State College on the list of possible university choices.Further Information
Name: Reuben Smith
Program of study at CQUni: Bachelor of Environmental Health
Host Institution & Country: Buffalo State College, United States of America
Period & Year of Exchange: Semester Two, 2013
The first thing I did when I received an email from CQU informing me about the various outbound exchange opportunities available to me as student was select the email and move it straight to the 'bin' section of my student Gmail account. In total honesty, I saw no appeal in stepping out of my comfort zone to attempt what I thought at the time was a risky move to an unknown part of the world. After all, I had a degree lined up, a job, a loving family and a great group of friends; why would I want to jeopardise that? As with any large decision one has to make, the determination of factors influencing my decision to partake in such an adventure took time to develop, and it wasn't until well into 2013 that I actually began the application process to embark on the most unknown and nerve-wracking experience of my life. In need of a change from Gladstone, the desire to travel and meet you people, as well as the realization that I need to make the most of these opportunities while I still have youth on my side were factors that aided in the persuasive reasoning my mind was processing to finally come to a decision. It took a few months to come to terms with, but in the end, it was decided - I was going on exchange.
Choosing my host country, for me personally, was probably the simplest of tasks pertaining to the entire application process. I've always had an intrinsic interest in American university life, as well as the lifestyle of students and people my age living in such an extensive and culture-rich country. This, coupled with the fact I wouldn't have to learn a new language, further increased my confidence in choosing the United States of America as a primary target for my exchange. More challenging, however, was the aligning of my subjects here in Australia to the classes I would complete overseas; primarily because my main fear was that I would have to extend the duration of time it would take to complete my degree once I returned to Australia. Buffalo State College, being one of the only universities available that could accept mechanical engineering students in America, was the perfect choice (for me) for three reasons. Firstly, it offered all the subjects and necessary facilities required to contribute fully to my degree back home. Secondly, its large enrolment of nearly fifteen thousand people and large campus activity hub meant I would be at the forefront of everything American in terms of student life. Finally, Buffalo is located fifteen minutes away from Canada (amongst other cool places such as New York City, Chicago and Boston; albeit not 15 minutes away). It takes me 15 minutes to drive to my local shopping centre here in Gladstone. Knowing that I could take the same amount of time to enter another country whilst in Buffalo was essentially the icing on the cake, and gave me the confidence to put a large tick next to Buffalo State College on the list of possible university choices.
With my excitement and nervousness combining to form an unnaturally bizarre feeling of anticipation as my departure date approached, I began to seriously reflect upon the magnitude of what I was about to do. I had only ever left Queensland twice, let alone travel overseas, and as I stood next to my mother at the Brisbane International Airport, teary-eyed, I took one look at the Qantas Boeing 747 awaiting my presence, looked at my mum and said 'what have I done'.
Living in America
Buffalo State College, in short, is huge. My campus here in Gladstone has three buildings, and having never lived away from home, I instantly felt the pressure of having to look after myself and survive in an unfamiliar environment built around a different cultural perspective to what I was used to. Whereas here in Australia I would drive to university every day and stay for only a few hours, now I was expected to live, study and socialize amongst thousands of different people in a true university setting. Simply put, I couldn't wait to get started. Wanting the full American experience, I elected to stay in a residence hall on campus known as North Wing; which immediately provided me with a sense of independence and adventure. The rooms in most of the residence halls at Buffalo State College are shared, meaning you are guaranteed to have a roommate occupy the same bedroom as you (unless you have medical or personal circumstances which constitute you the entitlement to a single occupancy room). Whilst the early notion of having to share a small room with a complete stranger can be quite daunting, the notion of seeing them every day quickly transforms the prospect into an exciting endeavour of friendship. The physical orientation of North Wing (which I HIGHLY recommend staying at if studying at Buffalo State College) are in the form of a suite-arrangement; meaning each two-person room opens up to a lounge room that is the central area to four bedrooms and a communal bathroom. With three suites per floor and seven floors in total, there was never any difficulty in meeting new people and making incredible friendships.
A big decision relating to my everyday life in Buffalo related to food and how I was going to go about eating decent meals for four months. Initially, I planned to purchase a meal plan at the start of the semester which would provide me with three meals a day, every day of the week. As good as my intentions were for such a routine effort to eat every day and night, the reality was that my classes, coupled with my irregular sleeping hours and absence from college campus would not permit for such regularity, opting me to live on a 'when I'm hungry, I'll eat' basis. The student union at Buffalo State College is home to a massive dining hall (where the meal plan-students eat cafeteria style), as well as an even bigger plaza area which is home to about eight different take out restaurants. From a salad bar to Subway, a pizza parlour to a Mexican grill, I found that it was easier, more convenient and generally cheaper to purchase my meals in this manner as opposed to having to ensure I was present in the dining hall at the specified times for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Additionally, there are a variety of supermarkets and grocery stores located within walking distance of Buffalo State; a pertinent solution to any dietary limitations one may be prone to as well as an excellent source of Twinkies and Bud Light beer.
As with any holiday or trip away from home, money is an important factor when it comes to deducing how you will live, what you can do, and how comfortable you will be when it comes to undertaking various travel related activities. Knowing that I had something rather important to save for, the months leading up to my departure were spent working hard at my part time job to ensure I would be able to provide for myself whilst abroad. Although the concept of having money at hand is important when it comes to undertaking studies abroad, keep in mind that it is generally more practical and secure to ensure you have access to different methods of accessing funds in case dire circumstances arise.
In order to remain on top of my financial matters before and during my exchange, I was in possession of two separate cards that all served different purposes in terms of spending in different manners. Prior to departing Australia I activated a 'cash passport', which is essentially a debit card that one can recharge with money as frequently as they like and with a maximum of five different set currencies (I used Australian and American Dollars). This cash passport was essentially my main port of call for all things money, and was used to buy the everyday items that were essential for my wellbeing such as food, toiletries and stationery. Additionally, I was in possession of a credit card that I could use to pay for the bulk fees such as my accommodation, health insurance and meal plan (although I opted not to for that latter). This also served as a backup in case of an emergency or I lost my cash passport; essential seeing there was essentially no other way for me to obtain money if my cash passport became obsolete.
Safety, of course, is the most important aspect of becoming an exchange student; as the magnitude of ones wellbeing being put at risk is amplified at the notion of being in an unknown place with unknown people. At Buffalo State College, there was never a time nor a location on campus that I did not feel completely comfortable, which can be attributed to a variety of factors that combined to make me feel essentially at home. The campus police station is located literally across the road from North Wing (my residence hall), which gave me easy access to law enforcement officials at any time of the day should I feel the need to ask for assistance or contact in an emergency. It is important to note that this was not just one county sheriff sitting at a desk in a dimly lit office with a pedestal fan in the background, but rather dozens of trained state police officers based on campus to patrol at all hours of the night and assist with any form of crime, petty or serious, that may occur. Additionally, the campus employs an escort service which essentially aimed to combat the sometimes unsafe notion of walking across a large campus at night by hiring professional drivers to escort you and your friends across campus should you need such a service. This, coupled with the notion that the campus is always bustling with activity and has dozens of emergency telephones scattered around the college, proved to make for an extremely reassuring stay whilst I was abroad.
Although the aforementioned points are applicable to on campus residency, consideration needs to be taken to ensure that care is taken when off campus. Being an exchange student, I was rarely on campus for a full day, primarily only to sleep and go to class and university-related activities. Buffalo is a cultural hub, and Buffalo State College is located on one of the main streets of Buffalo that hosts a variety of food, entertainment and retail outlets. Whether it was to walk down the street to get a haircut, or to go to a house party on the other side of town, I made an effort each time to always let my friends know where I was going; which was easy seeing as I was usually accompanied by them wherever I went. The seemingly trivial things such as ensuring your phone is charged before you leave prove to be the saving grace in case things go awry, and even then Buffalo is such a safe place considering the worst practical thing that can happen is you getting lost; which is undoubtedly one of the most upsetting things that can happen whilst abroad in strange, unidentifiable surroundings.
Coming back to Australia and having people ask me about how my time was overseas prompted a flood of thoughts and memories to flow through my head; often leaving me unable to answer without trying to condense four months into a few compact sentences. What I can explain, however, is the aspects of my life overseas that related to the friendships that I made and the memories I forged with such wonderful people. Contrary to what it may seem, you are not the only one who may be feeling alone or lost; with a multitude of other people your age also participating on exchange thousands of kilometers away from the people they care about. My experiences with this brought me closer to every one of the exchange students I lived with, allowing me to intermingle from people all over the world and forge friendships greater and more adventurous than any I had ever experienced.
In short, we did everything together. A group consisting of about seventeen of us quickly became regulars at house parties, college events, sporting competitions and local shows and festivals; and often made weekend-treks to places like Chicago, Boston, Toronto, Ottawa, and even Mexico (that's right, Mexico). The most remarkable quality of every exchange student I spent time with is the spontaneous aura each individual possesses that makes every moment spent with them one to cherish. When I was in Mexico towards the end of November, for example, my friends and I were sitting around bored on a rainy Thursday afternoon and were thinking of things to do. Flicking through a brochure, we found that the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza, and one of the Seven New Wonders of the World, was located a mere four hundred kilometers away in one of the principalities of Cancun. Deciding to visit a place like that would usually have taken me weeks to organize, however the influence of being surrounded by such outgoing people allowed me to say yes to hiring a car (albeit from some dodgy Mexicans), and make the long journey in the pouring rain with no working phones, no maps, and the hope that driving on the opposite side of the road wouldn't be too different from what we were used to. Uncertainty, surprisingly, can be a good thing, and the exposure to exciting levels of uncertainty are what made such experiences for me so memorable. The choices of where in the world to travel to next are simpler knowing that the friendships I made with dozens of people span thousands of kilometers across the seven seas, with contacting them being as easy as a Facebook message or Skype call away.
In addition to fellow foreigners, Americans are quite literally the friendliest people I have ever met. Quite the opposite from the loud, redneck yokels that are often the subject of stereotypes here in Australia (well, I mean lived in Buffalo, not Texas), I made many American friends who really allowed me to see the ins and outs of their country without having to travel Route 66 or go to Vegas. Even ordering food from a take-out restaurant became a friendly struggle, because the look of 'wait a minute, this guy's not from here' proved to be the beginning of a barrage of questions related to my life back in Australia. This was basically the foundation of many of my friendships with Americans, primarily because something as menial as the way I talk allowed me associate with people more intimately than pure acquaintance, giving me access to amazing people on a personal level. In summary, if you're worried about fitting in and making friends whilst abroad, don't be. I guarantee you'll be fine.
America, as almost every piece of American media propaganda emphasizes, is regarded as the greatest place on earth. While this statement is obviously debatable (Australia, duh), America is an amazing place. Scratch that, a phenomenal place. The culture, the people, the food, the way of life; everything is something to be admired and appreciated for both its uniqueness and its difference when compared to a dry, weathered Australian outback populated with kangaroos and gum trees. Within a few days of my travels, I had eaten a Twinkie, been to Walmart, visited Niagara Falls, seen hundreds of squirrels, and grown accustomed to people asking me countless times to say words like 'mate' and 'throw a shrimp on the barbie'. The feeling of being exposed to a different culture so intimately for the first time is indescribable, and is matched by the feeling of joy one gets when Americans start hammering you with questions such as 'do you ride kangaroos to school?' and 'what does vegemite taste like?'. What stems from this curiosity and the will to experience the American culture is a mutual fascination that will allow you to spark up a conversation with complete strangers, as even something as trivial as the way Australians talk is enough for an American to invite you back to their house for Thanksgiving. Oh I haven't mentioned that yet? Whilst I was on my travels I was lucky enough to experience a wide array of holidays and celebrations that one can only experience fully in the confines of the U.S of A. Thanksgiving, Halloween, Homecoming Weekend and American Labour Day weekend all proved to be central elements to my experience of living in Buffalo, and allowed me to truly soak up the lifestyle of people who celebrate such a varied array of events and practices.
In terms of my actual academic program (yes, I did do actual work over there), witnessing the practices of engineering being taught in America is absolutely phenomenal. With top of the range equipment, amazing laboratories, insightful professors and a universal understanding of engineering profession, I found the difficulty of transition from learning in an Australian university to an American college minimal. The only difficulty I faced, if any, in terms of adjusting related to the frustrations of having to work in imperial units for the majority of my classes. Although this only really affects the technical courses and programs offered at Buffalo State, it was extremely tedious work having to convert meters to feet, kilograms to pounds and degrees Celsius to degrees Fahrenheit. Americans just have to be different don't they.
In regards to the workload I faced with my studies overseas, you will be pleasantly surprised to know that if you are an above average student here at an Australian institution, you'll find any notion of classwork and study in America a breeze. Although I admit it may be different for other programs, the course content for engineering in America (provided you are not enrolled at Harvard or MIT) is extremely watered down. As a second year student, I was able to complete fourth year subjects in Buffalo knowing in full confidence that I was learning content applicable to my degree and that I was comprehending every bit of information being regurgitated from my professors. Albeit this apparent simplicity, be warned that American universities are notorious for the amount of homework given out at the end of each class, with most of it actually counting towards your final grades at the end of the semester. Whereas I was used to generally having to submit a few assignments and then sit a final exam, I had to adjust to completing regular sets of homework and submit them on time or face grading penalties. In addition to this, class attendance, regardless of how smart you are or how apt you are at learning on your own, is compulsory. With generally only two classes a week for each subject this does not amount to much, but after missing multiple early mornings due to my inability to get up, I faced the risk of losing a considerable percentage of my overall grades purely because the professors place such a high emphasis on participation and in-class involvement.
The concept of study is important, and should be framed in mahogany oak and nailed to the back of your mind to constantly serve as a reminder as to why you are overseas in the first place. You're an exchange student. However, albeit this, it is important to understand that there will never be a more pertinent time in your life to travel and see the world for what it really is. A combination of youth, inquisitiveness, lack of responsibility (aside from your studies), confidence and student-related discounts will get you to more places in such a period of time than any other, all the while contributing to your degree back home and preparing you for your future. The fact that most university students make the instant transition from high school to university means that there is rarely time or incentive to travel, and often leaves them deflated and uninspired to enter the real world. Therefore, whilst study is important and critical to ensuring you do not flunk a whole semester, it is just as pertinent that one does not remain locked in your room with your head buried deep in a textbook the entire time, otherwise the whole idea and notion of experiencing life in a different country is voided.
The unknown, as frightening as it may seem, is still a wonderful place filled with an unlimited supply of forks in the road that lead to all kinds of wonderful paths and journeys. This being said, there is a collection of handy hints that if taken seriously, can prove to make the critical difference between success and failure abroad. The following are some of the things I learnt from my time overseas that if followed in good stead, will make your exchange experience filled to the brim with stories and yarns to tell your grandchildren.
The first, and probably most important of these, relates directly to the notion of keeping a broad and open mind. Committing yourself to only undertaking certain activities and restricting the type of people you hang around whilst abroad is probably the worst thing anyone can do on such an experience, primarily because every day presents opportunities that demand spontaneous decisions and straight yes or no answers. Although each and every day, regardless of where you live, is a new day filled with a wide array of wonderful new things to experience, the prospect of waking up in a different country amplifies this concept due to the thousands of kilometres between you and your usual comfort zone. This essentially gives you a reason to undertake new and different things; and gets you into the routine of answering every question with 'yeah, why not.'
The second most viable hint I can describe from personal experience relates to the need to eliminate preconceived notions about your particular host country. Prior to my departure from Australia, I felt the incumbent need to research and view visually every aspect of American college life; whether it was through watching all the "American Pie" movies in succession or spending hours researching fraternity and sorority societies (which play a big part in American university culture). I understood that by doing such things, I would be limiting myself to a preconceived notion of what being in such a culture is like; essentially setting myself up for disappointment when I was to find out that things are much different. Again, this relates to having an open mind and essentially accepting everything as it comes. People don't participate on exchange because they want to experience a lifestyle akin to that here in Australia. The whole idea of living in another country as a student is to absorb the cultural differences presented by your host nation and embrace these differences with open arms.
My first night in Buffalo was marred by a gut wrenching feeling that in words can be translated to 'what the hell have I done'; as I truly began to accept the fact I was twelve thousand kilometres away from home. Scheduled the next day however, was orientation, and all feelings of doubt, anxiety, loneliness and regret were washed away to make way for feelings of friendship, adventure and opportunity. In total I was homesick for about 12 hours. Admittedly, every individual is different, and courage is a hard thing to muster when you're stuck in the middle of a country that has no prior connection with you and your exchange intentions. The mere thought of having to leave what you know and love to travel into the unknown can make one weak at the knees before he/she even reaches the airport terminal.
Always know, however, that you are in safe hands. Universities of such a size as Buffalo State College are a lot like miniature retirement villages in terms of the manner in which they care for their patients (for want of a better word). The effort they inject into ensuring you are safe, comfortable, and most of all happy, is immense, and is indicative of the fact that they recognise you are a long way from home and the people you love most. You're leaving home for a long time, yes, however there is clarity and certainty in regards to your return home and the reunifying of you with your loved ones. Remember; you are not alone.
Here are some less formal, yet still important nuggets of information that you can use to your advantage whilst on foreign soil:
- Don't fall in love. I did, and there is no worse feeling in the world than leaving a partner on the other side of the world.
- Adhere to the drinking age of your chosen country. Many places, particularly in America, place a larger emphasis on tackling underage drinking than more 'serious' offenses such as illicit drug use. If you do drink, don't get caught.
- Make sure you understand the road rules of your host country if you choose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Not everyone drives on the left side of the road. American drivers are typically a lot more arrogant than Aussie's. I lost count the number of times I got flipped the bird.
- If you are living in a country with a typically cold climate, remember that the four hundred dollar fur lined coat you just bought will be practically obsolete when you return to good ol' Australia. The temperature in Gladstone when I came back was 36 degrees, and wearing jeans was hard enough. Safe to say all my winter clothing from Buffalo is now sitting in a Saint Vincent de Paul collection bin.
- If you want to see snow, and lots of it, go to Buffalo.
- In addition to the above point, if you are going to a place that promotes winter sports/activities, take action to ensure that you know what you are doing before you descend down that 500 metre ski slope. Skiing, sledding, snowboarding, ice skating, tobogganing and snow man building (the last one especially) are all incredibly fun, but snow, innocent as it may seem, is out to get you. At the time of writing, Michael Schumacher is currently in a coma thanks to a skiing accident.
- Pass ALL of your subjects. In America, it is mandatory you study at least 12 credits worth of work each semester, which equates to four subjects. Failing even one of these subjects violates your visa requirements, and you'll be kicked out of the country. Remember that P's get degrees, but fail and you'll be treated like express mail.
- If you get sick, make sure you seek medical attention immediately. Every large university will have a medical centre on campus that can tend to your ailing body. Usually the cost of such a service is negated or at least reduced due to you being enrolled as a student. If that's not enough incentive, Buffalo State College even gives out free condoms and Band-Aids!
- Respect the culture difference. Appealing to people as a foreigner is easier then remembering how to spell your name. A combination of you being friendly and having a different cultural upbringing will make you many lifelong friends that will make your experience unforgettable. It will also get you discounts at many fast food chains. Americans, as different as they may be portrayed in the media and the general public, are amongst the friendliest people on earth. As with any culture it's just a matter of breaking down that initial barrier that makes you so different.
- As with every town/city in the world, Buffalo has 'dodgy' areas that you shouldn't make an effort to appear in. Drug related and domestic violence are prevalent in many parts of America, and although it is very difficult to end up in such a place on purpose, it is important to ensure you travel with friends and avoid travelling alone at night in the parts of your host institution that are notoriously dangerous. You take risks regardless of where you live, but some risks have more potential for disaster than others.
- Yes, it is true. American girls love Australian boys and American boys love Australian girls; primarily due to the accent. Americans have very long vowels and they accentuate an 'a' sound in almost every word they say. Because we say words like 'mate', 'hot sauce' and 'McDonalds' so differently to them (just a few examples), we come across as 'exotic', and speaking naturally will get you a lot of attention from the opposite sex. Just don't be a jerk about it.
- What Americans love: rap music, Nike basketball shoes, Australian accents, fast food, football (NFL, not AFL or league), American politics (if I hear the word Obama one more time…),
- What Americans hate:
- Don't lose your passport. A friend of mine lost her passport whilst we were travelling in Canada. Safe to say the following few months were a nightmare for her. It may be just a few pieces of paper stapled to a crappy picture of you pulling an ugly face, but it's still the most important thing you will need whilst abroad.
It would be foolish to assume that such an experience does not have an effect on transforming an individual in some way by shaping the way such a person now views both themselves and the world around them. The magnitude of the endeavours I immersed myself in have consequently expanded my perspective on how to go about living my life; providing me with a bounty of newfound confidence that will translate well to the personal, social, academic and professional aspects of my everyday living. The fears that I previously associated with many different elements of change and the unknown that I would almost always let take a hold of me have been vanquished, essentially paving the way for the feelings of self-belief and perseverance.
The fact that many of the decisions I made overseas were done so spontaneously has proven to be a springboard for life back here in Australia, as I now see the increased benefit in saying yes to opportunities and situations that may at first seem intimidating and discouraging. Prior to departing for American I rarely saw the benefit or need to push myself beyond my comfort zone and extend myself beyond my personal limits. The ability to survive and enjoy oneself whilst overseas, however, demands that you adapt to do things that may at first seem daunting. I found that the more that I involved myself with unknown people and situations, the quicker I began to enjoy such moments. If someone told me six months ago I would be riding mopeds through the jungles of Mexico, snowboarding down the mountainous slopes of Canada, ice skating against the backdrop of Chicago city and catching the subway beneath Times Square in New York City; I would have ignored them thinking they were crazy. Knowing that I have now partaken in all of the aforementioned activities is a testament to the fact that not all change is bad, and that a word so simple as 'yes' can play such a big part in shaping one's life.
I hold many incredibly vivid memories from my time overseas which can be attributed to the fact that every day I was involved in something new that I had previously never experience. Each one altered my perspective on concepts and worldwide views that I was previously oblivious to, and gave me an increased appreciation of elements relating to travel, friendship, culture, and the unknown.
Of these memories, the one I recollect the most recounts the time I was a day away from leaving America to come back to Australia and reunite with my family. Wanting to show me an amazing time before I said my goodbyes, a friend of mine invited me to stay with her and her family for a few days in her town which was located directly underneath the Canadian border and a few hours away from Buffalo. Knowing that I had but a few hours left to enjoy the sub-zero temperatures and different culture that I had grown so accustomed to, she drove me across the border into Canada and to a massive snow covered slope so that I could experience snowboarding for the very first time. Admittedly, the first few attempts were a struggle, but after a few hours of having her help me understand how to keep my balance, I began to feel like a fish in water as I made it down the practice slopes like a pro. Eventually, the time came to partake in my last descent, for it was almost midnight and I was expected on an international flight in less than twelve hours. As I stood atop the slope and looked down upon the city skyline submerged in a blanket of snow, illuminated with lights, I smiled as my mind began to process the overall magnitude of what it was I had actually accomplished over the past four months. As cheesy and grossly clique as it sounds, that moment ranks as one of the most life changing for me, as it was evidence to me of what I now realized I was capable of, and how my desire to experience the maximum of what life has to offer had been extracted from underneath the internal pressures relating to work, study, and other every day struggles. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing that you have accomplished something that you initially thought was beyond yourself, and it is safe to say that the smile which crossed my face as I stood atop that snowy slope still occupies my face to this day.
So go on, extend yourself. Challenge yourself. Most importantly; find yourself. An exchange program through Central Queensland University takes so little and gives so much in return, providing you with a worldwide view of your future career, unbreakable friendships, an inexhaustible amount of fun, and most importantly, memories that will last a lifetime. Having done the hard yards in terms of progressing through the hefty and tedious application process, including visas, health insurance, accommodation and passports, I understand that in this instance the hard work pays off, and demands nothing but a large supply of determination and commitment. Rest assured, however, that you are never alone, and that your family and friends, as well as Tanya Rogers from CQU will provide you will all the necessary guidance that will help you reach the finish line. Giving a subjective statement to conclude my experience in Buffalo as an exchange student is difficult considering the amount of amazing experiences I was a part of, but seeing as I have just begun my application for a second exchange, I can assure you that you're in for the time of your life. If you're going to Buffalo State College, I'll see you there.