A Year Abroad with International Study at Montana State University in the USA

Alex Bennett, BA Economics with  International Study student, has just returned from his year abroad at Montana State University in the USA. Here he tells us about his experiences, offers some practical advice, gives us his tips on what to expect when studying abroad, and provides a fantastic overview of why you should consider studying at Montana State University. 

 

Alex Bennett

 

Why I Chose Where I Chose…

I chose to change onto an international study programme (WIS) in the second term of my first year. However it wasn’t until December 2012 when I received my anticipated confirmation that Montana State University in Bozeman Montana would be where I would be spending my year abroad. Because of my ability or lack of ability to learn languages, I decided that I wanted to exchange to Canada, USA or New Zealand, however after the university in Canada pulled out, and exchanging to New Zealand would have meant leaving in July, such I wouldn’t have been able to work at the Olympics, I decided on the USA, meaning that I got to live in the country I’d be dreaming about for years. I choose Montana State University, because I wanted a university not in the ‘flat’ states and not in a large city, and the picture of mountains surrounding the university was brilliant.

 

What I Studied…

My year abroad allowed me to expand on my more narrowly focused course at Exeter, and undertake modules including Consumer Behaviour, Astronomy, World Geography and International Business. Although the course load was substantially more than that at Exeter, it wasn’t at the high standard that we expect to get at universities, such the ability to deal with the course load balanced out. I loved my lectures considerably more than I was expecting to, with brilliant professors; many of whom were British, in classes’ with never any more than fifty students registered. My favourite two modules were first, Astronomy, because I’d never taken any module like it, and that made it so interesting to me, whilst secondly, International Business was I believe of the most benefit to me because it was taught by a businessman who runs a multi-million pound advertising company and has worked all round the world instead of an academic who has never left university. American universities will usually have at least 3 midterms, with many projects or essays alongside assignments and participation marks making your final grade made up of many different aspects instead of relying on one exam at the end of the module.

 

What I Wish I’d Known Before I Went…

Somebody Important Makes a Visit to MSU

 

I wish more than anything that I knew just how much Americans love the British, this would have eased how nervous I was moving over there, Americans are so confident and friendly and in such awe of the British, that everyone just wants to meet you and be friends with you. Continually, the American fresher’s week is no way near the standard of the British’s week, with only a couple of events allowing integration of the freshman, making it very difficult sometimes to meet new people. You just need to be prepared to introduce yourself to a lot of students in the day (without alcohol). Lastly, although I was told that it was going to get colder than what I was used to at Exeter, I was n’t expecting it to get that cold. Montana has an extreme climate, with temperatures in summer and late spring at a regular of 30 degrees, but in December and January it will rarely go above 1 degree in the day, and such in the winter can drop to -20 degrees in the evening (and a -26 for me once when walking a mile back from a dinner), so I just wished I had been prepared for that drop.

 

My Accommodation…

During my year at MSU, I stayed for the first time in my three years on the university campus in the largest of the accommodation blocks. Al

l accommodation in a large amount of American universities is both shared rooms/shared bathrooms and catered halls. I was prepared for a shared room after sharing with my brother for 15 years, however I was n’t prepared for catered halls, because there was a reason I did n’t choose them at Exeter; I’m extremely fussy. However it did turn out a lot better than expected, because the university always had at least eight different options available and a constant stream of food between 6am and 10pm instead of set meals times. The room was very basic with a cupboard, bed and desk each but most students chose to loft their beds to give them extra space underneath.

 

Time for Travels…

The year provided me with a fantastic opportunity to travel around the United States; I was within half an hour of Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. At the start of the year I visited Salt Lake City, Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park from then I traveled to Denver for Thanksgiving, New York for the new year, Arizona for spring break and Florida and Washington DC before I flew home. Each trip was absolutely amazing, and there are so many more places that I now want to see.

 

Snowy Winters…

3 Favourite Memories…

Memories are the hardest things to categorise into three favourites, from the American football games to Spring Break, to meeting everyone, to the many hikes, to Thanksgiving, to white water rafting and to standing outside the White House at the end of the year.  I chose Montana over some of the other universities because of my love of skiing and the idea of being surrounding by mountains was just amazing, the memories I have of opening up my window, and seeing the peaks of the mountains that were snow covered with the M on the side of one of the mountains was incredible. One of the biggest difficulties in Montana was what to do without a car, and because I wanted to hike the M so much I trekked seven miles to the base of the mountain to begin the hike with one of my best friends I had just met, and we had a brilliant time almost dying making our way up, such we had to call a car to come get us to take us back.

 

Something Very Different to Exeter…

As I mentioned, the summer and winter are considerably different in Montana, such the activities undertaken in the summer could n’t really be replicated in the winter. The summer and spring consisted of hikes, white water rafting and tennis whilst the winter consisted of a lot of skiing, going to the gym and meeting with a group of friends inside somewhere. I had the opportunity to undertake a part time job on campus as a Teaching Assistant for Macroeconomics; teaching my own class of twenty, and I choose to take the pay over obtaining credit, because that helped pay for my travels. This was a fantastic opportunity to do something I don’t have the chance to do in Exeter.

 

Alex on the Big Screen…

 

Top Tips…

For any student considering taking up this life changing opportunity of studying abroad in the United States of America, I would say make use of the time you have in the country, such visiting as many places as you can, internal flights are so cheap making it considerably more accessible that flying every time from the UK. The States have 50 states with every one having such a distinct culture, I visited 12 states, and I don’t believe saw a place that I can compare to another. If your flying into the country or around the country, make sure for an internal flight you leave at least an hour and half in-between flights, and at least two and half if your changing flights after entering the country because of their immigration slowness at taking fingerprints. One last tip for coming to the USA, only pack what you NEED to have whilst there.

Lastly, if combining all the places a group of us visited in the United States you come up with a starting list of; Salt Lake City, Denver, Hawaii, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Boston, Florida, Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix, Chicago and Vancouver, showing just how many opportunities there are to visit places whilst studying abroad.

 

 

If you are interested in spending your 3rd year abroad, please do not hesitate to contact the International Development Team via Business-School-Exchanges@exeter.ac.uk

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