Student Evaluation Form

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1 A. Student Information Student Evaluation Form Degree(s) enrolled in at VUW Bachelor of Architecture Major(s) Architecture Exchange Institution Rhode Island School of Design VUW Trimester(s) and Year of Exchange Semester one 2009 B. Finances Please provide an estimate on how much you spent on your exchange (in your host country s currency). Flight/Transportation $2000 Visa application $250 University Related Fees $300 (books, student services, etc.) Accommodation $2000 Food $1000 Living costs $500 Trips/Traveling $2000 How did your financial expenses compare to what you originally expected to spend? I had budgeted enough for the exchange however I was surprised by how much I had to spend on University related fees, I had not thought a lot about the cost of materials and they were a lot more expensive over there. The teaching was much different and required me to spend a lot more everyday on materials for school. I also underestimated the cost of travelling to the cities which were close by, the train and bus rides add up if you go away too often. But It all works out and you end up sacrificing some things for others. By what means did you maintain your finances? (Credit card, foreign bank account, travelers checks, etc)? I used a travel card and found this worked very well as you change a huge sum of money then the card becomes the same as a eftpos card over here and you can but small amounts on it with out getting charged as you would on your credit card. I was always a bit weary of carrying cash on me but it is always handy to have cash for things like laundry and vending machines. Also you regularly have to do group assignments which requires you to all put money in and having cash is this situation is always the easiest. What financial advice would you give students attending the same university as you? Firstly never convert what you are spending into New Zealand dollars as it will drive you insane. If you get a American cell phone ( I strongly recommend you do) go on a plan as pre pay eats up

2 your credit in days as it not only charges you but the other cell phone too. I chose to live off campus as this option was a lot cheaper and you can find houses that are very close to the campus as Providence is very small. Living on campus requires you to have a eating plan and this means you are constantly eating cafe food. Some of the other exchange students liked this as when they were busy they didn t have to worry about cooking however I liked the idea of cooking my own food. C. Academics Which courses did you take while on exchange? Please rate the difficulty of each course (1-5, 1 = Very Easy & 5 = Extremely Difficult) and leave any comments you may have. Course Title Rating (1-5) Comments Advanced Studio 5 This course is amazing as you work with a studio group and a professor that pushes you the whole time to achieve your best. They never accept anything and always want you to keep developing. Illustration: Drawing 5 This course focused on life drawing which was a great elective to learn something new. The tutors are professional and will help you to get the right life drawing techniques. Painting: Contemporary Art 4 This was a seminar based subject which was very interesting, it required numerous site visits to museums in New York which was a great way to travel while learning.

3 How did you find the teachers at your exchange university? I found the teachers to be extremely good. They are all very passionate about the subjects they are teaching and are willing to take the time to insure you learn the most you can in their class. How did your academic experience differ from your time spend at Victoria? RISD being a private art school is much different to Victoria as it is a lot more conceptual. After attending this school I have learned a lot of new things that will add to my knowledge already gained at Victoria. I feel that Victoria has a incredible teaching scheme for Architecture which I am looking forward to continuing on with, I think having this experience is a good addition and has made my outlook on architecture a lot stronger. How did your academic experiences differ from what you expected? I wasn't sure what to expect but was impressed by the opportunities the students are offered over in America. For example I was placed in a travel design studio and our class of 10 got to travel to Switzerland for a site visit, only having to pay for our flights, the rest being paid for via a scholarship. Travelling however was something common to these students but such as shock and exciting experience for me. D. Accommodation What form of accommodation did you stay in? I stayed in a off campus house. This was a 10 bedroom, huge American house with 9 flat mates. 2 of my house mates attended the same school and the rest attended other universities close by (Brown University, Roger Williams and Johnston and Whales). I found it on the RISD website and had a landlord that picked up the rent weekly. What were the pros and cons of this form of accommodation? The best thing about this accommodation was that I was able to meet 9 other students that were so welcoming. They become like your family and it is nice to have a different group of people to

4 hang out with every now and then as you will find you will be living at school, constantly working. The Cons of this was that it was a 25 min walk from the Architecture campus, this walk was beautiful in the spring but in the heart of Winter it is a struggle to walk to school down the hills covered in snow! What accommodation would you recommend to future students? I would personally recommend to find off campus housing, talking to the other exchange students from other countries they also agreed that living on campus didn t work out the best and it is nicer to have a home and flat mates. F. Culture What were some of the hardest cultural differences you faced while abroad? The differences in America weren't so much hard, they just took a little while to get used to, such as tipping in restaurants and cafes. Also the fact that they add tax onto everything, so the amount on the tag is never the price it is always more expensive. I guess the weather was a huge shock so if you are going in the Spring semester the first half will be very cold so you have to go prepared. Good boots are essential! How would you recommend students to prepare for these differences? Insure you have enough money before you head away on your exchange and have some sort of back up just in case as the expenses do add up. Try take winter clothing from home as it gets expensive buying clothing over there. Did you face any issues regarding discrimination in your host country? What were they, and what advice would you give to future students? No I found the only discrimination to be with our accent but in no way was this in a cruel way there was a lot of joking and they love to hear from someone from another county. G. Personal Response Please write one paragraph about your exchange experience. Plus, don t forget to submit some photos to the exchange office!!

5 My experience at Rhode Island School of Design was the best thing I have ever done in my life! Everyone is so welcoming and friendly, and want to go out of their way to help you. The school itself is so beautiful, the library is the most amazing building and being in New England and all the buildings are so old and grand. The teaching is completely different, I was placed in both a undergraduate and graduate studio so I was working with a lot of experienced students in the Architectural field. Due to this I learnt so much more about architecture and my personal design abilities. The most amazing thing about being overseas is that you get to experience things you have only ever seen via the internet or in books. Not only did I get to see a lot of famous architectural buildings around America and Switzerland I also got to meet famous architects that we learn about all the time at Victoria (To me this was incredible but to the students over there this was normal, they get to do this all the time! ). Aside from the school, America is exactly like it is on all the movies. Very large food servings! Kegs and red cups at parties, and Fraternities and Sorority groups. I met the most amazing people who pretty much adopted me and are like my second family. Also became very good friends with other exchange students from around the world. I would not change a single thing about my exchange and would do it all again. Thank you for your responses, please leave any additional suggestions you may have for future participants below!

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