Maddalena Galloni – Business Management – Level 3

UMass Amherst, USA

I’m Maddalena Galloni, and I went on exchange in Semester 2 of 3rd year in Business Management. I went on exchange to UMass Amherst in the US.

First of all, I would like to say that having the opportunity to study abroad is absolutely a unique experience that everyone who is lucky enough to have should do. I am saying that, not just because you get the chance to study in very exclusive institutions with financial relief, but also because experiences like this truly open your mind, boost your confidence and pave you the way to many other opportunities in terms of postgrad study and career. The courses I have taken there are Investments (Finance Department), Sustainability and Law of Organizations (Management Department), and Organization of American Businesses (Economics Department). The main differences in the academic system are that: the classes are smaller and there are not seminars, that according to the departments, classes are held in different schools located in different buildings on campus. Each course usually includes 2 classes a week. The final grade usually consists of small written assessments and 2, or more, exams (midterms and final). Classes are usually small and some courses are highly requested. Finally, when considering your budget it is worth finding out if you will need to buy books for your classes. Text books were expensive for the classes I took.

Focusing specifically on each course I have taken:

  • Investments was a very tough course. The topics covered are very advanced and it requires a lot of individual study. However you can always ask for help from your Teaching Assistant and it is definitely possible to pass. I have personally learnt a lot and, even though it was a bit stressful, I could definitely recognize the high level of the classes (some of my classmates were the presidents of some student investment clubs).
  • Sustainability: This was mainly based on case studies. I really did not like this course because I thought that it lacked structure.
  • Organization of American Businesses: This was a very interesting course based on a mix between economics and history. The professor was great, as was my TA. The course covers 3 books that explain the most important inventions that revolutionized the global competitive advantage.
  • Law of Organizations: I loved this course, mainly because the professor was very nice and because business law is a very interesting subject for me. The main topics were tax law for businesses and liability of third parties in contracts. I highly recommend this course!

The main positive aspects that I identified in the educational system of UMass are that: having to handle small assignments every week helped me to keep up with uni work; professors are very prepared; buildings and academic tools are very modern and hi-tech; there is a huge library (27 floors) and easy access to academic materials. On the other hand, the main negative aspects are that: the absence of seminars does not allow students to actively participate in class and that it is a very individualistic method of study and you cannot rely on the help of other classmates.

Talking about Housing: My personal experience with housing has been difficult at the beginning but very pleasant at the end. First of all, to apply to the housing allocation system you have to do it online and it is a bit complicated as well as stressful, my timeslot was on the 25th of December around 11pm. My first option was Prince but since I was at a Christmas dinner I could not apply on time. So I chose Crampton. Starting from the premise that, since I went there during the second semester, the free rooms were not many and if they were free it was because probably one of the roommates decided to leave the room, my experience in Crampton was very bad because my roommate clearly did not like to share the room with someone and managed to make me want to leave. I then had to do the online process again, but to apply you have to do it in specific days and wait almost a week to find out if you have been allocated into a new room. I had to do the online process twice before finding a room in Brown. I highly recommend North apartments area because 1, you have to share the bathroom only with maximum 4 or 5 people instead of a whole floor and secondly because you could be able to have your own room, which I find a way more comfortable.

The main positive aspects of living in halls are that: all campus is smoke free; all the buildings are pretty close to every school; the dining is amazing and you definitely have to get a meal plan; the gyms and the pools are free of charge and amazing, there are also indoor and outdoor fields to play whatever sport you can imagine and, finally, that there are many events for students. However there are some negative aspects as well such as that: the town is pretty small and there is not much to do at night; you are unable to cook for yourself; 90% of the time you have to share your room, and you are not allowed to store alcohol in your room if your roommate is below 21.

Concerning the social life, American guys are usually pretty shy. If you are not very extrovert, it could be hard to make friends. However you can always meet very lovely people in the events, in the halls and at parties that are held on campus. Keep in touch with your IPObuddy, he/she could become a very good friend.

I would like to conclude with some general suggestions concerning transportation, budgeting and the weather: to get from the airport to UMass you can take Peterpan buses either from the airport or from South station (you just need to take one of the silverline shuttles that are for free); if you get a meal plan living costs are very reduced, however travelling is very expensive and you definitely need a credit card. Books can cost up to $100 each but you can always return them on Amazon. On campus and in town the buses are free for students. Finally, winters are cold in Massachusetts; bring warm clothes and a big coat!

Semester Abroad Experiences

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