Exchange interview: Florida
Hi, I’m Julie and I’m 20 years old. For my exchange semester, I went to the University of Central Florida. An experience to never forget.
What reasons did you have to choose the country/city you went on exchange on?
I always wanted to go to Australia, but when the time came to pick an exchange destination, I suddenly changed my mind. I realized that in Australia, I just wanted to travel and nothing more. My dad suggested America, because of the unique university experience. American universities are so different from all other and in my eyes, I had to take the chance to take part in such a different university culture. I can always travel; however, I cannot always experience the American university culture, which is so different and cool! Besides that, America is so big that you can travel to many different places, even within a short time period.
“I realized I had to take the chance to take part in such a different university culture, like in America.”
I chose Orlando mainly because of the experience reports. I read that UCF is really involved in making sure that exchange students have the best time ever. For example, they organize camping trips to places you’d normally never go as an exchange student, but which are extremely beautiful. Besides, Orlando is in quite a ‘busy’ area, with a lot to see. The travel time to Miami is not long, and you can visit the Bahamas and countries in Mid/Southern America very easily. Within 1-1.5 hours you can visit many different beaches. This combination of location and the experience reports convinced me to go to UCF. The fact that it is one of the largest universities in the U.S. is also really cool.
Did you experience any culture shock?
I did not experience a real culture shock. It only took me some time to get used to the people. They are very extra, over-the-top and often also very nationalistic. They think they are very open people but sometimes, with for example political views, they are not. So, sometimes I had to be cautious of what I said, because I am a person who can easily debate with someone over a certain topic and Americans are not always up for your view on things. However, they are often really interested in you and your culture and are always open to help you.
What was the best experience you had on exchange?
This is a very difficult question. I went on several road trips through Florida, so I almost saw every side of the country. I went to Chicago and I went to Puerto Rico. Those were all such amazing experiences and so different from another, which makes it impossible to chose which one was the best. Besides the trips, I also loved watching American sport matches, such as American Football, ice hockey, basketball and even soccer. The energy in the stadiums is so amazing and every time it amazed me how much Americans scream and dance and go crazy during such games.
What was the biggest difference between TiU and your host University?
First, the attitude of the students surprised me. I always had in mind that they work really hard in order to get an A+, however, mostly they are quite lazy and do everything last minute. Of course, the work is not good, but the teachers still give very high grades. So, the academic level was definitely lower.
Second, all of the courses I took were given in a tutorial style and for almost every course presence was compulsory. For every class, a lot of your grade consisted of team projects and during class, you had to do in-class assignments. Theory was not often explained in class, you had to watch videos from LinkedIn Learning.
Do you have any tips for anyone who is going or thinking about going on exchange?
I would definitely recommend everyone to go on exchange! It is a once in a lifetime experience and you learn so much from going there and stepping out of your comfort zone.
My tip is to go somewhere where you feel confident about. If you want to go to Germany because you love Germany, if you want to go to Australia, go to Australia! Don’t think you should go to a place as far away from the Netherlands as possible. You should pick a country where you think you will feel at home.
If you’re on exchange, then try to explore the local culture and cities as much as possible. The most memorable trips for me were very close to where I stayed. Of course, you should travel as much as you want, but try to not overlook the places close to you.