Eastern Illinois University (USA)
Study Abroad Testimonial - Harvey
Name: Harvey Flynn
Program of study at CQUni: Bachelor of Learning Management (Secondary)
Host Institution & Country: Eastern Illinois University (EIU), America
Period & Year of Exchange: 1 Semester, 2013
EIU was situated in rural Illinois, there was another slightly larger town about 15min drive from Charleston and apart from that there was Chicago that was a 3-hour dive (or train trip). I did not do, as much research as I probably should have about my university and when I first got there I thought I might be in for a bit of a rough semester, as there did not seem to be that much to the town. However once I got settled in, I had an absolutely amazing time. The classes were small and you got to know your teacher easily. My class schedule was 3 classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday (the same classes) then 2 classes Tuesday and Thursday. As I am currently a student of the Noosa campus, everything at EIU was huge to me. They had a massive library that had multiple computer labs and study areas. I guess the main difference between CQU and EIU apart from the size of the campus (as Noosa is really small) would have to be the way content was taught. To me it felt a lot more like high school rather than university; every lesson had homework and the lecturers were very relaxed towards all students with late work. You were able to get bonus credits on nearly every homework/assignment piece to bump your grade up if you wanted to take on more work. Also having 2-3 lectures per week for each class was something different but at the same time it was good because it filled in your week nicely.
A few of my friends had studied in other countries and said it was the best thing they had done, so when I got the email asking for students who were interested to study abroad to reply I figured why not and replied. I wanted to go to an English speaking country and have always wanted to visit America, so that is why I choose the States, The reason I chose EIU was it had subjects that related to my degree and they accepted my application first.
I was offered to live in on campus accommodation (dorms) or I could have rented an apartment. I chose to live on campus in dorms, as it was a good way to meet lots of new people. There was a choice on dining plans, ranging from 5 meals a week to 14 meals per week. There were multiple dining halls to choose from and each offered different types of meals. There were also plenty of restaurants to eat at in town and neighbouring towns. Eating out in America was always cheap. A big meal including a drink would go anywhere from $9-$20 depending on what you wanted.
I had a fair bit of money saved up prior to starting university so I did not have to do any saving when I decided to study abroad. The scholarship money was very handy as it paid for the majority of my housing expenses allowing me to spend my money on things such as travel. I also was receiving centre link from the Australian Government so that helped a lot as well. America was a lot cheaper than Australia so it made travelling, eating out and buying anything a lot easier. I did not say no to any opportunity presented to me and I would recommend that attitude to anyone going to study abroad.
Life Outside of Classes
I was living in Charleston, Eastern Illinois. During a long weekend I went up to Northern New York, Buffalo to visit some friends, while there we drove across to Canada. Other places I travelled to during my semester were Chicago (numerous times) and Florida for Spring Break. I also travelled to other college towns to play rugby. I also visited NYC before my semester started and went to Las Vegas, Texas, California and the Grand Canyon after my semester was finished.
The social life was pretty similar to Australia so that made it pretty easy for me to meet new people. Also being from Australia I found a lot of people wanted to meet and talk to me so meeting new people was no problem. The university had intramural sports where you could join a team and meet new people. Apart from that, going out to the bars or parties, people from class or friends of friends were how I met new people.
There were too many highlights for me to write down but if I had to narrow it down to a select few, it would be meeting tons of awesome people and making great friends that I still keep in contact with. Then all the travelling that I did was a definite highlight, I got to experience some amazing places. As far as academic highlights, the classes were run in really small groups so it was easy to get to know your lecturers and classmates and form some really good relationships.
Tips of the trade
Do your research to what college you want to go to. Look at where it is, is there public transport? What is the weather like mostly? Don't say no to any opportunity to travel, you're only there once, do it all and don't be shy meeting new people. Get to know your lectures, it helps if you need some extra help. Save up as much money as you can before you leave so you can travel without stressing about money.
How have you changed
Travelling by myself has given me a greater understanding of what I am capable of doing. I would have never thought that I would go and travel overseas for 5 months and be able to organise and plan out my trips. Being able to study abroad gave me the opportunity to make some lifelong friends.