Cultural Experience | North Dakota

Why I Love Studying Abroad in the USA

I love talking to american students and learning more about this country, and telling them about australia, too!

By Michaela Hewitt, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia

I had the window seat and the best view as my 14 hour plane trip landed in Los Angeles  in August! I was absolutely exhausted and dying for a shower, but I was so excited! I chose to study abroad in the US because I had made great friends in some American exchange students who came to my university in Australia. I had heard a lot about the US, its people and its culture from these girls, and now it’s time for me to experience it myself!

rising sun in LA student travel study abroad image

The sun rising just before I touched down after my long journey!

When I went through immigration and customs at the airport, they asked all the standard questions like, “what are you here for?”, “how long are you staying?” and “where are you going?”. I answered the last one with “North Dakota State University” and the response I got back was, “Why would you go to North Dakota?”. Seeing my puzzled face, the immigration officer explained, “It just snows there, and it’s flat!”.

After about six weeks I, as a sun-loving girl from Queensland, have not yet seen snow (but I know it’s coming!). After a few days I realized what people meant by it being flat. It makes the sky look huge! Only the odd building interrupts the 360 degree view of the sky meeting the flat land around us, and I think it’s beautiful.

I am staying in the residence halls and have a meal plan because it seems very “American”! My university in Australia doesn’t actually own student accommodation, but there are many apartments nearby designed for students. We also do all our own cooking, so it’s nice here to not have to do the grocery shopping, and still be able to get a hot cooked meal when we’re tired or in a hurry!

I’m taking four classes here, and I was really surprised to find out some people were taking six or more! I’ve realized though that classes seem to be much less demanding than in Australia! I like that my classes in the US are assessed with lots of little assignments, whereas my grades in Australia are usually based on three to five bigger projects.

Despite less school work to do, I’ve been kept busy! I love how this university is nearly double the size of my Australian one, but everyone loves to get involved here! Every week I meet my friends for a free movie at the cinema on campus! I’ve got a part-time job at the campus newspaper, and I’m getting involved with the student-run TV news! It’s really exciting and I know my journalism friends back home are jealous of the opportunities I’m getting involved in here!

A huge difference with student life in the US is how everyone is very devoted to supporting their university! It’s clear that college sports are a big thing here, and that was definitely seen when ESPN’s College GameDay came to Fargo! Tens of thousands of people swamped downtown to support NDSU’s Bison football team, and the energy followed them all back up to campus where more people were tailgating! Tailgating is definitely a tradition I should bring back to Australia!

I went to the football game that day, and it was awesome! The whole stadium was filled with Bison supporters, which is probably why the other team failed to get a single point on the board! I love the cheerleaders! Cheer-leading is a very American thing, and I like to think if I was raised here I could have been tumbling across the field, too!

I’ve loved my time so far as a study abroad student in the US, and I couldn’t think of a better place to go than NDSU! I love talking to American students and learning more about their country, and many have plenty of questions about Australia, too! If you have anything you want to ask about Australia, or have ideas for things I should try or places to visit in the US leave a comment below!


Michaela Hewitt

University of the Sunshine Coast | 3 stories

Michaela Hewitt is halfway through a Bachelor of Communication majoring in Journalism at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. She loves to travel, run, bake and write. Her dream job involves travelling around the globe to try the world's cuisines and writing about it.

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