On exchange at the University of Texas
Final year mechanical engineering and applied physics student Abhi decided to make the most of his time at uni by going on international exchange to the University of Texas at Austin, one of the largest universities in America.
My name’s Abhi! I’m a final year student at UTS studying a double degree in engineering and science, where my majors are mechanical engineering and applied physics. Mechanical engineering was always going to be the degree I picked out of high school, because growing up I had a huge passion for both sports cars and aircraft; my interest developed whilst studying high school physics. Physics is what made me pick the double degree – and more specifically UTS. I had read about the impressive work at UTS in materials science and nanotechnology and thought it would be cool to learn some of that stuff! Now in my final year, I’m so glad I did; some of my favourite subjects have been from the applied physics stream.
Applying for UTS International Exchange
Studying abroad was something I’d always thought about doing, but never got around to. The application process starts with an email from the international office to register for an information session and it’s a long process - you’ve got to begin a year before you intend to travel. It starts with applying to the program at UTS, submitting your grades, the subjects you want to do while on exchange and then finally applying to the host university and completing the same process again.
When I registered for my first information session, I was approaching my final year and so exchange would be in the last semester of my degree. I learned that it would be hard to find a university abroad that offered all the subjects I would have left in that last semester of my degree. I had no intention of doing electives and staying back another semester so I was a little dejected about whether I should even try for exchange.
So, I decided to talk to some friends who’d been on exchange before and everyone I spoke to about going on exchange said that it was an amazing experience! Those that had already graduated and hadn’t gone on exchange said that it was probably the one thing they wished they did while at uni. Encouraged with the feedback, I decided to continue with the application and kept looking through UTS’ partner universities to find ones that offered the subjects I needed. The best match to my study plan – The University of Texas at Austin - was also the hardest to get into, so I put it at the top of my preferences and got in!
The expectations of studying abroad vs the reality!
My expectations going into a semester abroad in The States were probably the same expectations you might have – lots of parties, frats, sororities, college sports, travel – basically everything but study! Two months into my exchange at UT, a lot of those expectations were accurate, all but the last. As soon as I arrived at UT, I
learned one of the reasons why it was one of the hardest and most popular school to be nominated for by UTS – it was a very good academic school and the students here take their grades very seriously. I quickly learned that I would have to be very organised if I wanted to keep up with my studies and make the most of my exchange program.
It was hard to get my bearings at first, because UT is huge! The campus is massive with countless university and club events on all the time (like actually all the time – it’s a struggle to keep up). The school as a huge sport culture and they love showing their school pride. So much so, the school song at the end of each game – win or loss we still sing The Eyes of Texas. It’s a completely different culture to back home!
To add to being at a great university, Austin is an amazingly vibrant city! There’s always something going on, whether that’s on campus or in town. The last two months have been a whirlwind between finding time to organise myself and choosing between all the live music, art shows, college basketball games and everything else. I’m excited to see how the next two months pan out!
I’ll be graduating on my return to UTS, but before that I’ll be going to Darwin as a UTS team member of the Australian Technology Network Solar Car Team. There we’ll spend a week participating (and winning) the World Solar Challenge! I was fortunate enough to work on the mechanical design of the ATN Solar Car for my Capstone Project and I’m excited to see the project through to the end. The competition will be a great way to end my undergraduate university career, after which I’ll hope to find a grad job somewhere – where? Let’s see where the opportunities come from, but in the meantime I might just go swim The English Channel or something!
Thinking of going on international exchange?
Explore the opportunities available through the UTS Global Exchange program.