TRAVEL REPORT. University of Florida, Spring 2015

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1 TRAVEL REPORT University of Florida, Spring

2 Contents 1. Preparing for the exchange Required documents Traveling to UF Housing Exchange studies General information Courses I chose Spare time and other information Cost of living Other students and free time About Florida and Gainesville Travelling Final comments... 11

3 1. Preparing for the exchange University of Florida is the third biggest university in Florida by student population with approximately 50,000 students. The campus is located to a relatively small city of Gainesville with about 130,000 inhabitants. Since the share of the students in the city is notable and the campus is the 9 th largest single-campus in the USA, the small city won t obstruct the great exchange experience! 1.1 Required documents University of Florida (UF) International Center approached me the first time in mid-june with an , which provided comprehensively information about the application process and required documents. Even I was already nominated to participate in UF Exchange Program, the school required me to fill an online application, which due was October first. In order to successfully submit the application, I was asked to attach several documents, such as certification of financial responsibility, copy of transcript, interest form to live on campus (naturally optional) etc. Since the application is basically just a formality, I received a notification of my acceptance quite soon after I submitted my application. However UF asks incoming exchange students also to submit immunization form and certificate of insurance, once your participation to their exchange program is approved. To fill immunization form, you need to visit some healthcare center (YTHS probably the most convenient option) so they can verify you have required vaccinations and you don t have tuberculosis. Insurance form can be submitted easily if you decide to use one of UF approved insurance companies (they ll give you list of them). At least the company I chose, generated all required forms automatically I could then forward to UF. Finnish insurance is not an option since Finnish insurance companies are likely not keen to negotiate extended terms to their insurances. However I also took Finnish travel insurance just in case so there won t be any problems afterwards since I was going to travel in the USA after my studies abroad. Once all this is done, you can start your registration for your courses and also apply the visa. The embassy of USA will provide all necessary information of that application process and once you have done everything they asked, you can book a time for an interview at the embassy (in Kaisaniemi).

4 After this interview is conducted, the embassy will send your passport with visa within a week or two, so you probably don t want to procrastinate this process too much. UF international office is very helpful and it was easy to communicate with them via . They are willing to help you with all possible questions you might have about the application process, required documents or study abroad in general. All the documents can be uploaded to your UF account and you don t need to send anything by mail to them. They will send you their acceptance letter with DS document, which you will need in your visa application, but you don t need to wait for that to perform any action the school requires. 1.2 Traveling to UF Gainesville has its own regional airport so it is an option to fly there. However since this might become a bit expensive, I recommend to fly some international airport in Florida and rent a car to get to Gainesville. You can also use a bus and especially using an operator called Greyhound is really cheap and busses are usually nice even your co-passengers aren t. However renting a car is also really cheap and very convenient if you are at least 25 years old. In the state of Florida you can usually have different pick-up and drop-off locations without extra charge, and since the price of gas has been quite low too, this is a very good option. Most of the states in the US don t require international driving license and Florida is not an exception. If you decide to use a bus or fly to Gainesville, a local student buddy (NaviGator) is quite likely to pick you up wherever from Gainesville or at least arrange someone to do that. 1.3 Housing There is basically two housing options in Gainesville. On-campus and off-campus. Since off-campus houses might not be so central, the people you daily hangout is likely to be limited to the people you live with, and using a bus to get everywhere is annoying, I chose on-campus option. Therefore I can t

5 tell much about off-campus options but UF provides some assistance for that housing options as well. You can probably find more information about this option from other study abroad reports. On-campus housing for exchange students is usually limited to Weaver Hall unless it can t accommodate all the international students who are willing to live on campus. Weaver Hall is one of the nicest halls on campus and the location is perfect for pretty much everything, and you rarely need to use a bus to go anywhere since quite many American student has a car and is willing to give you a ride. Most of the rooms are doubles, so you will live with an American student in one room. Therefore you won t have much privacy, and you better hope your roommate is cool. However there is also single rooms and since not many graduate student is living there, you are quite likely to get one because they are reserved to older international students. Kitchen and bathrooms are shared with other students. I got a single room and so my housing option was perfect combination of privacy and company 24/7. If you stay in Weaver Hall you are likely to get a lot both American and international friends, since you quite likely hang out and study with them at the common areas of the hall. Drinking in Weaver Hall is naturally prohibited if you are under 21, but you can still easily do that in someone s room. Annoyingly beer pong and having a keg was prohibited on campus so all the parties in Weaver Hall were pregaming by nature. 2. Exchange studies Studying in UF is very different than it is here in Aalto. Most of the courses require a lot more work to do during the course and don t necessary have an exam at all. The content in general is not easier or harder than hear, but you are expected to do more in order to receive good marks. Still if you study business, you are very likely to have enough spare time for other activities than studying. Attendance for classes is usually mandatory but it depends whether the instructor follows it or not.

6 2.1 General information In graduate school, semester is divided into two modules, and in spring semester there is a spring break between them. Undergraduate students don t have similar division so their courses last entire semester. I was required to take 24 credits, which corresponds to 12 local credits. Because all the courses available to me were 2 credit courses, I needed to choose 6 courses in total. There is quite wide selection of graduate level courses and I found easily interesting options that also provided me nice schedule (I had classes only twice a week on second module). Each course usually has a class twice a week: either on Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday. If you want to have a class on Friday, that is basically impossible. Even you need to select the courses you are going to take, before your arrival, it is easy to drop and add courses within first week of each module. 2.2 Courses I chose Module 1 Code and name: MAN6573 Purchasing and Supply Chain Management Instructor: Carrillo, Janice Evaluation: 2 exams and 2 cases Content: Comprehensively consider qualitatively purchasing and supply chain management as an important part of business and topics related to it. Personal experience: As said, mostly qualitative content about the topic so only a few formula you actually need to know. Exams were closed book but not too difficult and cases consisted of a report and presentation. However each group presented only once. Code and name: MAN636 Organizational Staffing Instructor: Callahan, Judith Evaluation: Quizzes 36%, case analysis 50% and class participation 14%

7 Content: About theory and practice related to organizational staffing and how to implement the content learned in class in real life. Personal experience: Pretty comprehensive and useful course about staffing. Quizzes were open-book quizzes so you were allowed to use your laptop. Case analysis had several deadlines because it consisted of several parts and in order to work with the case, at least one from the group needed a text book. Code and name: HMG6747 Marketing Hospitality & Tourism Instructor: Kaplanidou, Kyriaki Evaluation: homework for each class, marketing plan and exam Content: Discussion about the topic based on the articles read for each class. What kind of threats and possibilities new applications have brought to this content and about what all businesses are related to hospitality and tourism business. Personal experience: Even this course had a group homework about an article for each class, there wasn t too much work to do for this class and the content was easy to understand. Module 2 Code and name: ENT6930 Innovation & Sustainability: Biz doing good Instructor: Joos, Kristin Evaluation: 40% group project and 60% homework Content: Current topics about innovative and sustainable business, and what it takes to be one. Lot of guest lecturers from local companies for whom we also conducted a bit wider group projects. Personal experience: Homework challenged us to consider thoroughly innovative and sustainable companies. These homework also required quite a lot of time to conduct but from most part it was

8 interesting and so relatively pleasant. The instructor had some difficulties to choose what topics she will discuss on class since there is a lot and therefore the class might have appeared a bit confusing for some students. Code and name: BUL6441 Business Ethics and Social Responsibility Instructor: Maurer, Virginia Evaluation: Homework 60% and reaction papers 40% Content: The course will examine the practical issues of managers in addressing ethical and moral problems in business. It will draw on a variety of materials and experiences as a basis for analyzing and evaluating the manager s and the firm s options and decisions. I encourage you to think critically and to develop an analytical framework for thinking about business ethical problems. Personal experience: One of the few course you actually needed a text book. Weekly homework was based on the essays/articles on the book. Required quite a lot of reading but was an interesting course. Code and name: REE6045 Introduction to Real Estate Instructor: Archer, Wayne Evaluation: 80% (2) exams, 20% quizzes Content: About an evaluation of real estates and making the decisions related to them. Quite a lot of real estate legislation. Personal experience: Interesting course but American legislation was quite difficult since I didn t have any background knowledge about the topic. However if you do your quizzes well, the exam is not difficult.

9 3. Spare time and other information 3.1 Cost of living Accommodation was the biggest expense with about $600 a month taking into account that included only one room and everything else was shared. However Weaver Hall has a donation room where previous international students have left they stuff and so you could get your fridge and sheets from there. Off-campus housing was actually in some cases even cheaper option. The local busses in Gainesville are free of charge for students as were all the several sport facilities. Therefore moving around and exercising were convenient. On campus were also several events where you could eat for free almost (but not even) on daily basis. I had a meal plan so I was allowed to eat at dining halls as frequently as I wished without an additional charge. Meal plan was $1,600 for the entire semester including about $200 so called flex-bucks, which can be used on campus convenience stores and other restaurants and cafes than dining halls. In Gainesville was also quite often discounts for several restaurants on certain days so eating ended up to be cheap. Prices in grocery stores were slightly lower than hear. Alcohol from liquor stores and bars/clubs in Gainesville was extremely cheap compared to Helsinki. 3.2 Other students and free time As mentioned sport facilities were free of charge and there were many possibilities to do sports on campus. NaviGators arranged several trips for international students where you could meet other internationals and Americans but also some sport events like soccer and volleyball on weekly basis. Going out in Gainesville is easy and fun and you can basically go out every night. However Fridays and Sundays were the lamest nights so at least I didn t go out on those days as often. There is many discounts in local bars in fixed dates and students usually followed those discounts. So called ladies nights where ladies drink for free were also popular. Usually you don t need to be 21 to get in a bar but naturally you can t buy your own drinks.

10 Sports events are usually the thing to do, but because the football season was over, I only went to see couple basketball games. The atmosphere in games is quite unique, especially in student section. However people didn t tailgate before these games so unfortunately I didn t experience that. 3.3 About Florida and Gainesville Gainesville is relatively small town and therefore there is not much to see. There is basically just restaurants and couple malls to hang out outside the campus if you don t like to go out. In Florida, however, there is a lot to see. For those who like amusement parks Orlando is the place to be, but I personally recommend to choose Universal over Disney there, because Disney has less roller-coasters that are for grownups. Florida is also famous of its beaches and at least Fort Myers, Miami, and Tampa are worth of visiting if you want also see something else than just a beach. Keyes are also extremely beautiful islands to visit. 3.4 Travelling Travelling in Florida is the most convenient by car. If you are over 25, that is usually also the cheapest option if you have company. Like I mentioned, you can drop-off the rental car in different location than where picked it up in Florida. If you are going to visit nearby states and going to come back to Florida, rental car is once again the most convenient and cheapest option. If you are planning to travel a bit further away, then airplane is natural option for that. Domestic flights are cheap especially if you have only carry-on luggage with you. I personally wouldn t have used busses or trains but I guess they are an option too. If you are planning to travel outside the USA, make sure you visit the international office first because you need a signature from them to your DS-2019 document. That way you make sure the re-entry to the USA is convenient. If you don t have plans to visit another country than the US and come back during your exchange period. You won t need that signature. I travelled to Mexico with other internationals when we had our spring break and since everyone remembered to get that signature, we didn t have any problems to re-enter the US.

11 4. Final comments Even this was my second exchange, I enjoyed the US and Gainesville a lot! I consider this period of time to be one of the best in my life and I am sure you will feel the same if you have a chance to go UF. The USA is a very convenient and fun country at least to stay only short period of time.

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