Newsletter

Saskia Koch
Uelzen, Germany
English
Leadership Center

Through a Different Looking Glass

For my project, I decided to engage in the National Student Exchange program offered from Southern Utah University. For the academic year of 2015-2016, I was enrolled as a visiting student at the University of Washington in Seattle. The goal of my exchange was to experience a different culture, take classes that weren’t offered at Southern Utah University, and to make important decisions for my career.

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As I am an international student from Germany, I wanted to explore the different facets of the United States. Although Southern Utah University is a great university, and my program has a wonderful reputation, I wanted to branch out and experience more. I actually planned to fully transfer from SUU, as I was getting anxious of being in one place for too long. After I researched my opportunities, I contacted the international student service and was informed about the exchange program.

Because I am not a U.S. citizen, it wasn’t quite clear if I would be accepted into the program. Furthermore, I moved from Cedar City to Seattle (and back) with a car, which came with high financial costs. Also, the living expenses in Seattle are higher than in Cedar City, so that I had to learn to manage my finances better.

Although I talk about my exchange program, many students seem to be reluctant to actually want to get out of Utah. It may be the fear of something unknown or the fear of leaving something comfortable. I hope, with this project, that students will see the benefits of studying for a year at a different university.The experiences collected can be immensely valuable, such as classes that were never offered before, meeting new people, and engaging in a different culture.

Personally, the exchange was a wonderful experience. I had to grow as a person and come more out of my shell. Seattle is vastly different in culture when it comes to making friends. People are polite, but reserved. So I had to be outgoing and take the initiative to meet with people. I also learned some new things about myself. Academically, it was such a different experience. Not only were the students engaged at a different level with the class material, I also became a better writer, as the professors had high expectations and pushed me to do better.

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“Planning your day to a degree seems effective; be cautious of over planning. Give yourself some time to be spontaneous.”

“Space is a literal construct that works in possessive relations. It’s either not enough space, personal space, or signifies free space up for the taking.”