Yolanda's exchange experience

Hi, my name is Yolanda and I will be leaving early next year to go on a semester–long exchange to study in the United States. From January to may 2013 I will be studying History (Arts) units at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

I made the decision to go on exchange early this year after hearing from my Education degree coordinator that it would be possible for fifth year secondary education students with a combined degree to do so. As our Education degree structure has recently changed so that in our last year we will be conducting our teaching internship in semester two, and finishing either our Arts or Science degrees in semester one, we will be able to undertake a semester's exchange to a country of our choosing. I was excited by this prospect as I have always wanted to go on exchange and study at an overseas institution, and I have never visited the United States before and have desperately been seeking a reason and opportunity to do so.

My exchange has been organised by the International Student Office at the University of Sydney. Before I was accepted into Chapel Hill I had to go through a very lengthy application process. Prior to my application I attended a number of information sessions where I was introduced to the University's exchange program and given a list of important dates and deadlines. Towards the end of semester one this year I received an application kit I was required to fill out. This kit included a form where I had to list five preferences of universities that I wanted to study in. Because the University of North Carolina has 16 different campuses across the state, I had to sub–preference the campuses I would most like to attend.

The forms in this application kit took a while to complete and a while for the International Student Office to process. This was mostly due to the fact that there were a lot of applicants – especially for the United States – and competition for places was tough. The allocated Exchange Advisors primarily offered places to us on the basis of academic merit, although they do also consider your suitability for the position based on your personal suitability.

Once I had received notice of my official acceptance I had to formally apply for acceptance to my exchange host university. This entailed another round of forms and another round of waiting for confirmation. Once UNC Chapel Hill formally accepted my application they sent me further information about their university, and instructions about how to access their various services.

The University of North Carolina is a distinguished educational institution, and is currently one of the three "points" anchoring the Research Triangle. The Triangle refers the central hub of educational, social, cultural and commerce activity in the North Carolinian state. Whilst I am at the University I plan on taking advantage of the various educational and professional opportunities afforded from this location. I am not certain of what these opportunities will be just yet, but I promise to update you on these experiences in the near future!

I hope you enjoyed reading this entry, and I look forward to update you on my study and travel experiences during my exchange and upon my return to Sydney!

Goodbye for now y'all!

Yolanda Lu