21 Things No One Tells You About Studying Abroad In America

Group of five taking a photo in the city with a selfie stick

2.8min read

Published 8 June 2020


The years spent at university are some of the most stressful yet exhilarating and awakening of many young adults lives. It’s a time to meet new people and figure out who you are and what you want to stand for, as cliche as it sounds, it’s pretty true.

One of the best ways to take that experience, amplify and accelerate it is through a student exchange program abroad. Not only do you get to go to another country but you also get to experience what it is truly like to live and embrace a foreign culture and its people.

A great place to study abroad is in the USA because the culture and language is not so foreign that it hinders on your ability to learn and study yet it still brings with it enough of a culture shock that warrants a sense of achievement at the end.

Here are the 21 tips on what to know if you’re thinking of studying abroad in the USA from someone who’s done it before...First things first tho is making sure you’re covered if anything does happen to go awry with travel insurance that has your back...

They've been friends like forever

1.University is called ‘College’ in the US

2 .Check that your college is one where most students stay on campus and isn’t what’s known as a ‘commuter college’

Meaning students go home on the weekends leaving the campus feeling more like a ghost town.

3.Invest in a good quality down coat for winter (fall) semester between August and December

Canada Goose is the sh!t if you can afford it, otherwise there’s always trusty North Face.

4.The same goes for boots to trek through snow in

A lot of people have these really ugly shoes called duck boots, they’re hideous, but super useful in the snow.

5.Research what scholarships are available from your university even if you don’t think you’d be eligible

You’d be surprised at the amount of academic funding that is available that students just aren’t aware of, so talk to your exchange coordinator.

6.Get to know the J-1 Visa because this is going to be your ticket to the USA

7.Start planning your study abroad from the beginning of your uni degree

This is so that you can find partner colleges with similar subjects that you can then align with in the semester you wish/are able to be abroad.

8.Be prepared to do five subjects

The usual four subject course load isn’t considered to be ‘full-time’ in the US, students there are required to study five.

9.The actual courses don’t cost anything extra

Most universities have partner institutions in the states meaning you only have to pay your usual HECS/HELP in Australia and a student coming from overseas does the same in their own country when coming to Australia.

10. Less obvious food and drink translations to know:

Takeaway = take out or to go

Full-cream milk = whole milk

Scull = chug

Bottle shop = liquor store

Jam = jelly

Ice block = popsicle

Tomato sauce = ketchup

Beetroot = beets

Capsicum = Pepper

Coriander = cilantro

Rockmelon = cantaloupe

Lollies or sweets = candy

Potato gems = tater tots

11. Pack light

You don’t need 10 jumpers (in the US they call them sweaters) because you can’t wear them all at once. Pack what you think you’ll need, and then halve that.

12. Learn to love filter coffee

Or buy a french press over there and take your favourite ground coffee with you if it comes in one of those vacuum sealed bags. Starbucks now does a flat white but it’s just not the same.

13. Buy travel insurance!

 Girl writing in notebook and studying

14. Pennies are a pain

The 1c coin is actually worth less than it costs to make one (go figure), so right from the start pop them in a jar and at the end of your study abroad why not donate them to charity. You could even get your roommates involved too.

15. Buy the college merch

Right from the start because everybody else will actually be wearing it too and it’s a good way to get into the college spirit.

16. Then wear your gear to all the basketball and football games you can go to

17. Go to a frat/sorority party

Yep, they’re just as great/horrible as in the movies.

18.Beer pong

Learn the game early on. This is vital to your social acceptance.

19. Join a club

Or three! A fast and easy way to make friends is to find people who are interested in the same passions as you. Duh. There are heaps of on campus clubs to choose from so go wild!

20. Secondhand books

If you get in early enough you’ll be able to nab some much cheaper second hand books Then at the end of the semester be organised enough to sell them back as soon as you can.

21. Travel

Get out of your dorm room, off campus, and travel to nearby towns and even cities. You’ve come this far, why not explore a little?

Need some more advice before you start your journey abroad? Get in touch with our travel experts or pop into one of our Flight Centre stores.


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