Jackson Wright-Smith

Jackson Wright Smith

What degree are you enrolled in, and what is your major?
Bachelor of International & Global Studies/Bachelor of Laws, Major in Government and International Relations

Where are you on exchange (Country/City/University)?
The University of Texas at Austin, United States of America

What made you decide to apply for this exchange?
I have always wanted to go on a Study Abroad, and I felt that this was the perfect period in my degree to go and enjoy a different university experience in another country, especially during the 2012 US Presidential Election.

What has been your favourite part of the experience so far?
Even though its clichéd, its hard to go past the incredible people I’ve meet whilst on exchange. Not only Americans but also Australians, New Zealanders, British, German and Mexican friends who you encounter through weird and wonderful ways. That being said, joining the UT Rugby team has been a real highlight as I get to travel around Texas with a great group of mates and play enough sport so that the heart-attack inducing American fast food doesn’t catch up with me too quickly.

What has been the most challenging aspect of the experience so far?
Avoiding doing too much. When on exchange, you enter this ‘Yes Man’ mindset where you want to say yes to anything, otherwise termed the ‘YOLO effect’. Unfortunately there are periods where you have to say no or choose between two great offers, and that can be really hard, especially when you have to say no to good friends.

What advice would you give to someone considering going on exchange (in general, or at this location in particular):
If you are going on exchange in the US, try to join a society or team, as I believe it’s a really good way to meet different people and have new experiences. The more interesting or unique the group is, the more interesting and unique the people will be!

What is a “must visit” spot for someone coming to your host city?
According to most Americans (even those outside Texas) Austin as a whole is one of the best towns in America to live in. Its hard to pinpoint any particular spots that are better than others, but a great embodiment of the city is at South Congress where local vendors, antique shops, artists and Mexican food trailers are on full display, with jazz and country musicians completing the ambient atmosphere.

How has the scholarship you received helped you to pursue your academic and personal goals?
The scholarship has been really helpful in assisting with the hidden costs of exchange at UT - namely health insurance (which is $500) and text books (which were $400). Unfortunately these costs can surprise you if you aren’t prepared, so the scholarship saved several financial headaches!

Is there anything additional you’d like to add?
I’d love to thank the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences for not only granting me this scholarship, but also permitting me to pursue this entire exchange experience. Please if there’s one thing you do at university, make it an Exchange.