Jonathan Wong is a fourth-year student completing the Bachelor of Commerce (International). He is majoring in International Relations and Marketing and went to the University of Kansas between August 2018 – May 2019 as a part of his one-year exchange requirement.
Interviewed and Edited by Megan Chen
Some people struggle with choosing an exchange destination. What was the process you went through to decide to go to Kansas?
I was a big basketball fan and I wanted to go to a school with a prestige college basketball program. This was a big factor to my decision. I also had to evaluate my choices based on my WAM but that was not too restricting.
Was the teaching style different to UNSW?
It was very different. At Kansas University (KU) there were no lectures and tutorials, but more of a classroom-style teaching which is very similar to high school. The weighting of assessments wasn’t a huge factor towards your final grade. However, there was a lot of homework.
What accommodation would you recommend?
I stayed off-campus at student apartments. It gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted without being told off by Resident Assistants who would manage the dorms. I would recommend this if you’re older – I went when I was already 21 – since everyone who stayed in these apartments were sophomores and older, whilst dorms are usually for freshman kids.
What is one of your fondest memories on exchange?
I met two of my best friends there and went on multiple adventures together. We went to Los Angeles, New York City, Colorado, Cuba, Mexico and created lifelong stories that I look forward to telling my grandkids.
How did you budget your time and money on exchange?
Plan your trips. Create an agenda of what you’re going to do and spend on before actually going on exchange. This gave me a rough idea of my budget.
However, I did bring a little more just to be more flexible and less risky. I would recommend investing in a meal plan as it is cheap, saves you a lot of time and money of travelling to and from the supermarket, as well as cooking.
What were your favourite places to visit in the area?
My favourite place in the area would be the Recreation Centre because it is huge and where people go to workout and socialise after class. I play a lot of basketball and I networked my way through to parties and events from running pickup there every day. The thrift stores there were also amazing as they were very cheap and had a lot of nice vintage clothes for less than $20 per piece.
My favourite trip was being able to go to Cuba. It was very very different, very cultural and the scenery was amazing. Everything there was super cheap and my friends and I paid AUD$80 for a day trip on a yacht to go to the surrounding Caribbean islands. That was probably the most tropical thing I’d ever done.
Finally, what are three tips you would give to a future exchange student staying at your university?
- Don’t over-tire yourselves
- Try new things – you don’t know if you’ll like it or not
- Spend money on experiences
Our previous profile about an American university is right here – George Washington University. It’s the perfect quick read if you’ve got a little bit of time to spare!