What is the college experience

Experience report | Semester abroad | USA | Matthias

Hey, my name is Matthias, I studied English and Political Science and spent a semester at a college in the USA in 2013. After my first short vacation in New York City in 2009, it was clear that I would like to get to know the USA one more time. The opportunity arose during my English studies at Bielefeld University. I went to the USA for a semester with the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) - to be more precise, to Conway in the state of Arkansas, a place in the middle of nowhere. Although I would have wished for a completely different area in the US before, my time in college has been one of the best of my life so far.

Prepare and arrive

Since the organizational things with the International Office Bielefeld University and I was provided with all the important information, preparing for the semester abroad was very easy. Sure, there was a lot to do, but everything went smoothly. apply for visa in Frankfurt, one Take out international insurance, the first contact with college and Apply for BAföG abroad. All of this had to be done and my anticipation for the experience increased with each of these steps.

First I went to the east coast of the USA. I've decided to travel a bit before the semester starts. New York City, Philadelphia and Washington were on the plan and I loved it. These first two weeks have already shown me that the USA will not disappoint me. Americans are hospitable and open. thanks Couchsurfing and Airbnb I've never been alone.

After two weeks of travel, I'm on the beautiful campus of Hendrix College at Conway arrived. We were around 20 exchange students in total and had a week before the American students came in Introductory and introductory seminar had. Since we were all in the same boat and in a new environment, getting to know each other was very easy. We also did a lot together outside of the introductory seminar and quickly became close friends. A week after us all the American students came. We have another one here too Orientation Week participated to get to know us.

Study hard, party harder!

After two weeks of introduction, I was really looking forward to my courses. We were able to choose this during Orientation Week. Usually you have four courses per semester, each of which takes place several times a week. I chose the Food, Culture and Nature, Contemporary Global Issues, Model United Nations and Film Studies courses. A big difference to courses at German universities is that Workload. You get one after every session little homeworkIt is expected that you come to the seminar well prepared, actively participate and it is normal three to four graded tests during the semester to write. That sounds like a lot and it is. Personally, I have to say that I think this model is much better than the German one. At no point during my studies have I been as motivated and committed as I was in the USA. That was certainly due to the interesting topics and the fact that small courses are not very anonymous and you cannot hide if you are lazy.

After a busy week, I'm often with friends to one of the many parties gone on campus. Whether it was organized by college or a private house party, there was always something to go to. The city itself didn't have that much to offer, but the campus soon turned into a new home felt and was constantly celebrated somewhere, I quickly got used to it. In any case, it never got boring.

College life - everyone participates somewhere

No matter if sport, music, art, theater or any political club. Hendrix College is like any other American college: Students are also very committed outside of the seminar and always have something to do. Unlike in Germany, it is rather unusual not to be part of a club or sports team. We exchange students were also able to do so 70 clubs participate. I have decided together with some friends to participate in the International Club. We have planned some events to celebrate diversity at Hendrix College. In terms of sport too, it only had 1900 students relatively small college has a lot to offer. I chose tennis and swimming. I only got to know American football as a spectator, but to this day I still haven't understood the rules - even my American friends couldn't really explain them to me.

To travel

I traveled a lot during my semester, and I did pretty well even from Arkansas. Often we have rented a car on the weekend and drove to nearby cities like New Orleans, Memphis or Nashville. We are also Model United Nations with the course flown to Chicagoto participate in the United Nations simulation game that we prepared in the course. Towards the end of the semester, I'll be with some friends flown to California and we even spent a day in Tijuana, Mexico. I was particularly impressed by how different the different areas of the country were. Every city and region has its characteristics, but you can meet friendly people everywhere.


The semester at Hendrix College was by far the most best part of my bachelor's degree. I made a lot of new friends with whom I still meet today. We have in common experienced a lot and a had a good time. I was also able to improve my English, gain points for my studies in Germany and a lot of new experiences. I can only recommend a semester abroad in the USA. For me it is a time that I will never forget, despite the semester unfortunately over much too quickly went. If I have the chance to go to the USA again during my master’s degree, it will be for a whole year.

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