Ignas Banionis – Business Management – Level 2
California State University: Chico, USA
First of all, I would like to thank QMU and CSU: Chico for this amazing experience to study abroad for half of a year. When I first heard that there is a chance to go on exchange I did not even doubt about it and applied straightaway. Hundreds of documents and forms to fill, hassle to get a visa and the most complicated communication between America and Europe stressed me out a lot, but in the end it’s all definitely worth it!
I’ve been living in the University Village which was like 15 minutes away from university. Everything seemed pretty okay apart of one huge disadvantage. Most of these American dorms are offering places where you have to live with another person in one room. My main advice is not to live with some random person in one room that you barely know, it is definitely worth paying one or two hundred dollars more to avoid that lack of privacy and awkwardness. Each person has different timetables and sometimes when you want to rest up, your roommate has to wake up at 7am for example, that’s where problems occur. Luckily, after couple of weeks my roommate had some problems with studies so I ended up living by myself. Overall, housing in California is definitely more expensive comparing to Europe.
Flights and traveling
My main advice is to keep on looking at different websites constantly before making a final decision. Personally, I used Skyscanner and found a pretty good deal to fly to San Francisco. Do not hesitate on buying your tickets as the more you wait, the more expensive they are going to be. In addition, Chico is really complicated place to get to if you don’t have a car. There are some trains and buses that go directly to city, but prices are just ridiculous. One way to solve this problem is to join a Facebook group which was called ‘Chico State Rideshare’. I ended up saving a lot of money as this group posts some offers where students drive their own car from one city to another and all you have to do is pay some gas money for that person.
American education system is completely different from the one in QMU. I had to take 4 modules which were pretty interesting and unique comparing to Europe. The main difference was that every week you have to take tests, quizzes, short essays, presentations and they are worth like 5% of your final mark. On the one hand, it is a great way to boost your motivation as I constantly needed to put effort in order to accomplish my home tasks. What concerns final exams, they were pretty easy comparing to QMU. I had to take 4 final exams and most of them were multiple choice questions which were pretty straightforward. Overall, education seemed not that challenging comparing to Europe although I learned plenty of new things, acquired some knowledge about American politics, different states, the way people think and of course, law and business fields.
Personally, American culture is way more different than the one in Europe. I felt culture shocked the day I got there. Firstly, everything was so huge- cars, food portions, buildings, roads etc. It was my first time in the United States so first impression was really weird and shocking. For example, distances are enormous. People are used to drive for 6-7 hours straight which in Europe it would be unreal amount of time. It took me some time to get used to it and it’s actually really satisfying afterwards. People are extremely friendly, when they find out that you are not from America, they want to become friends with you straightaway. Chico is definitely a college town where students are laid back, easy-going and that’s why there is always something to do. I’ve met a lot of amazing people that I ended up travelling to Oregon, Nevada, Washington and California.
To sum up, studying abroad changed me a lot. It was really challenging for me as I was the first one who is going to Chico State from QMU. I knew literally no one there and had to find out everything by my self which helped me to improve as a person. I realised how self-dependent I became, improved my language skills, found many new interests that I could not even think about it in Europe. Despite all the difficulties and barriers that I’ve faced, clear blue sky, amazing palm trees, college life and breath-taking wildlife is going to stay on my mind for my entire life. California was always on my bucket list and finally my dreams came true.