Host University

Colorado State University

Host Country



SP5, 2017


Bachelor of Journalism and Professional Writing

Why did you choose your host university?colorado

Google Image Colorado and you’ll understand.

Colorado is bordered by seven states meaning you have access to seven very different, amazing states so close by (well, a significant drive but still). I love skiing, the snow, four seasons and nature so Colorado was a (very) easy choice.

It’s just stunning. And offers a lot - mountain hiking and biking, great cafes, Spanish culture further South, national parks, art scene, a great city (Denver - short trip to catch your NBA, NFL and MLB action).

Colorado State University specifically is such a cool place. It was a huge advantage that they offered a great Journalism course and quality film topics too.

The campus is flipping great. Fort Collins is a campus town so everyone gets around the college and its students. The Rec Center is unreal, you can go rock-climbing for free, CSU offers lots of great day and overnight trips, it’s super close to the town and all its hot spots, it’s culturally diverse, Coloradoans are so friendly and cool.

I wanted somewhere that was big enough to offer heaps of opportunities but not a crowded city full of tourists and masses of people.

What was the university like?

Brilliant facilities, staff and students.

I had the best time studying when in America. When you’re spending a lot of time on class you want to enjoy it so you should consider the rep it has academically when choosing your placement. I had to do five courses and 24 hours of class time a week at Colorado. It doesn’t sound fun but it was! Half of those classes were film topics so I was doing a lot of project work outside of class time. The teachers were super friendly and accessible. My friends in other courses said the same! The projects were super practical and great experience. There was lots of group work which was actually great - everyone lives on campus or super close so getting together and doing stuff is easy and fun.

Outside of class time, I was living in the dorms, working at a dining hall, producing and hosting a radio show, making a documentary, enjoying tailgate barbecues at football games and learning to rock climb at their gym. These were all things offered by the university. Students over there pay much heftier student fees so make the most of the free fun!

Keep in mind that college is way more immersive there! You live and breathe on campus (especially if you’re living in dorms). It’s part of your identity there.

What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?

I’d been fortunate to travel a lot overseas before but living overseas was something different. Between all the amazing experiences I had on and off campus, I came back with a new confidence, personally and professionally (which is saying something, I already had quite a bit). The media opportunities I had there (America is full of them) equipped me with some great working material to show employers. It gave me the confidence to seek out ABC personally for a reporting job when I got home (which they gave me).

What accommodation options were available to you?  How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?

I stayed in Global Village (apply separately) in the Parmelee dorms. While my 22-year-old roommate from Panama, Isa, was really fantastic and we got along great, keep in mind most students staying in dorms are freshman (17 or 18). My friend from UniSA managed to set up accommodation with a woman in Fort Collins, a short bus or bike to and from campus. Staying in an American home is worth doing if you can. Although it was super handy being on campus with immediate access to work, classes, events and gym.

There’s always something happening on campus. Friends really enjoyed the college apartments too.  

Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries?

You bet. Locally all the way. I love America, it’s so diverse. I had three weeks travelling around on the Amtrak (their train service) before I started at CSU and another seven weeks travelling around after the semester finished.

In my time there I travelled to 17 states (California, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, South Carolina, Louisiana, New York, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida, DC, Virginia).

Every state and city is like it’s own country. I have seven months of memories but here are some stand out experiences:

  • Lining up in the middle of NYC to see Saturday Night Live in studio with Natalie Portman, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin
  • Watching bull riding, dancing with cowboys to country music and eating In N Out at a Texas rodeo
  • Road tripping to the Grand Canyon in Fall break
  • Hitchhiking and hiking in bear country in East Glacier Park, Montana
  • Watching an SNL audition with the show’s creator and writers in one of Chicago’s historic improv comedy theatres
  • Snorkelling with barramundi schools in Florida
  • Learning about the deep south in Charleston, South Carolina with friends of friends
  • Going on a college church retreat in the Colorado mountains
  • Seeing Denver take on the Dodgers in the MLB on a Denver day trip
  • Going to a 21st in a haunted corn maze
  • Nerding out at San Diego Comic Con and standing metres from the Avengers cast
  • Reporting on an international soccer match at the Seattle Seahawks Stadium
  • Riding my bike I bought from Craig off Craigslist around Fort Collins
  • Skiing down the rockies with a bunch of Colorado friends
  • Spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with friends from church and their family  
  • Watching the AFL grand final from student apartments with all the exchange students and some locals
  • learning to fire different rifles with retired cop Kevin in San Antonio, Texas
  • Soaking up the live jazz in New Orleans’ Frenchmen Street
  • Learning the life stories of many weird and wonderful Uber drivers

Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.

My faith is a lot to me so finding a church community early was key. I instantly fell in love with the first church I went to and all the people in it. They invited my to their homes, took me camping, hiking, and supported me throughout.

Talk to people honestly. In classes, football games, on trains, wherever. And talk to Americans.

Foreign student are great and you’ll click with a lot of them immediately but really invest in the country you’re in. America is easy, they love us and speak English.

The more things you get involved in and people you randomly chat to the more connected you’ll be.

Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?

I was doing so many more practical projects overseas that have boosted my confidence and experience for a career in journalism here.

I still keep in contact with some of my teachers (and definitely add them on LinkedIn haha).

What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?

Now’s the time. Exchange really is a bargain - it’s so much cheaper travelling and studying through UniSA (a LOT cheaper than what you’d pay in America).

Travelling is great, living somewhere and being a local is almost better.

It’s great to be content where you are, but don’t rule out what somewhere else has to offer.  

You can pay it back later and you won’t miss that much here. Your friends and family will be here when you get back.

If you’re in a relationship and that’s what’s holding you back, consider it. My boyfriend of three years was very gracious and supportive and we made it work.

Top tips

Don’t hold back. Don’t rush into a million things either but look around, talk to people and do something different than you do here. Be spontaneous but be intentional with your time too.

Eat Butterfingers and real tacos.