GUIDELINES FOR WRITING THE EXPERIENCE REPORT

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1 GUIDELINES FOR WRITING THE EXPERIENCE REPORT Study Program: Psychology Exchange semester: Spring 2016 Academic year: Host University: Louisiana State University Country: USA! GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE SCHOOL I went to Louisiana State University (LSU) located in the city of Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is the capital city in the state of Louisiana. It is positioned in Southern America and is roughly a 1.5-hour drive to New Orleans. LSU has a big campus that is filled with approximately students. Around are undergraduates and are graduates. Imagine that Tilburg University has circa students! LSU is a green campus that is beautifully located around a lake and surrounded by several oaks. Nice fact: the campus of LSU was used as a film location in the movie Pitch Perfect! Me eating Crawfish on campus. A famous dish in Louisiana. Because LSU is positioned near a lake, it is nice to take a run or walk around it. This also gives you an opportunity to get to know the campus better. If you like sports, LSU offers you a variety of options. For example, they offer squash, tennis, basketball, fitness and many more. As an exchange student you can do this all for free. The busses going in and out of campus are free to use for LSU students. This way it is really easy to visit the mall, buy groceries or just go out and explore Baton Rouge. There are a few bars and cafes close to campus that are nice to visit. Most of the time you could find me there hanging out with some friends, especially in the weekends. II PRACTICAL INFORMATION Immediately after I got accepted I got in contact with the student abroad coordinator at LSU. The coordinator gave me all the important information that was needed to complete my enrolment. If I had any questions I was able to contact the coordinator by . After I received the DS-2019 form, I immediately applied for my J1 visa. To successfully obtain your visa, you need to go to the US embassy in Amsterdam. At the embassy they will ask you some questions and decide upon your request for a visa. I was lucky enough that I didn t find any troubles. The whole visa application procedure took me less than one month.

2 When I arrived in Baton Rouge, the International Cultural Center (ICC) picked me up. They picked me and some other international students up at the airport and dropped us at our temporary housing on campus. After one night staying there I was able to move to my dorm. Three days of orientation were organized. A whole morning was used to inform students important information about their visa, safety issues, course enrollment, and also tips that would be helpful during your stay at LSU. At the beginning I found some troubles with class enrollment. I wasn t able to register for the classes I wanted. I told this to my study abroad coordinator at LSU, however not much change came after that. So I decided by myself to go to the psychology department to explain that I wasn t able to enroll. The people at the department were very helpful and instantly helped me to register. Even though most of the classes I preferred were full because I was late, I could still register. They advised me to go to class and explain my situation to the professor. Because I am an exchange student that would only stay for one semester at LSU they would be more understanding towards me. Eventually I was able to enroll in all the classes I preferred. Orientation/Introduction activities The ICC offers a lot of opportunities to meet new people. They organized several trips and parties for international students. When we arrived they organized a welcome party where locals were invited to talk and share stories about life in Baton Rouge. Dancing, food and also traditional music were involved. It was really nice. Housing Because my exchange was organized by ISEP, the housing and a meal plan were included. I was able to choose to live off or on campus. I chose to live on-campus to experience the full American student life. I got assigned to a dorm where I would share the place with another American girl. However, when I found out that as an ISEP exchange student you are also able to live in an apartment I changed my accommodation and moved to an apartment to have more privacy. I am really glad that I made that decision. I still lived on campus, but now I had a room for myself and shared the apartment with three other American students. Living Costs I financed the majority of my exchange semester with savings and stufi that was granted by the government. I was also lucky that my parents were willing to grant me some money. Because ISEP provides a package for 3475 where housing and a meal plan are included, most of the money I spent during my exchange was on travelling. ISEP program: Housing + Food 3475 Health insurance 60 per month Books 250 Miscellaneous 200 per month

3 Academic Calendar On January 5 I arrived in Baton Rouge. The orientation days were on 6,7, and 8 January. My classes started on January 13 and ended the last week of April. My final exams were planned on the first week of May. The mid terms were planned before spring break, which started the week of March 21. When there was no school I took the opportunity to travel. Social Activities I spent most of my time with other international students. I met people from all over the world. For example: India, Mexico, Ecuador, China, and also from different parts of Europe. I was able to learn a lot about different countries and their way of life. During spring break I took the opportunity to travel with some fellow exchange students. We took a plane to Miami and rented a car there to drive to Key West and Orlando for Disney World. After the semester ended we also travelled and decided to explore the west coast of America. We stayed in San Francisco, Maui, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. During the stay we drove to several places and tried to explore as much as possible

4 Culture and Language The first days were pretty exhausting for me. I had a hard time finding the right buildings and not getting lost, I was in the middle of handing in my bachelor thesis, I wanted to move out to an apartment instead of living in a shared dorm, and I was afraid of not being able to make new friends. Basically, I was stressed about everything. However, when little time passed I noticed it wasn t that hard to make new friends and realized most of the other international students were facing the same problems as I. After I spent more time with the people there, I started to feel more comfortable and home. We planned a lot of dinners and fun trips together that helped not feeling lonely. I got the opportunity to have a host family. Half way the semester we met for the first time. They were really nice people; they brought me to swamp, strawberry festival and an alligator farm. I got paired up with them because of the common interest in psychology. They are both psychologists. My host mom is American and my host dad is German. My host mom told me she visited the Netherlands for a while when she was younger, so we were all able to talk a bit about the differences between Europe and America. We discussed that in America they rely more on cars compared to Europe, which makes sense since the public transportation is really bad in America. In America it is rare to find a city with a center, because the streets are most of the time not build for pedestrians. Furthermore, I would say that Americans are very open, welcoming and social people. I remember walking on campus and getting compliments from strangers, which doesn t happen often back home. All in all, I would not say that I experienced a culture shock. There are differences between America and the Netherlands but there are also similarities. Just the whole transition of moving in to a new city and making new friends was challenging and stressful in the beginning but after a while you get used to it. Furthermore, after this experience I feel much more confident in speaking English. A big reason for choosing America was the language. I am not super good in English, so the exchange semester was definitely beneficial for my language skills. Personal Development On my exchange I met a lot of people from different cultures and countries. I feel privileged to have met them. Moreover, I came to realization that we all are not that different, I mean sometimes we do have different standards and traditions, but at the end of the day we laugh and cry for the same reasons. After this experience I can definitely say that I am sad it is over, but happy that it happened. I am super proud of myself that I survived 5 months in a country that I never have visited before independently. In those five months I was

5 really able to get to know myself better. III ACADEMIC INFORMATION Academic level at a host university I took four psychology courses that were all offered in English. I noticed that the study pressure is harder in America compared to home because you have a lot of assignments, quizzes and in between exams. This was something to get used to because in Tilburg I usually start studying two or three weeks before the exam. At LSU you need to study the whole time if you want to do good in class. Since you are tested more often, the amount of study material is less compared to home. This makes the academic level a little bit easier. I took one course called the psychology of thinking and decision-making, wherefore we were required to work in groups. This gave me an opportunity to get to know my fellow psychology students better. The student and teacher relationship in America is different compared to home. At LSU they aim to have a lot of student-teacher interaction during class. This was easily accomplished, since my classes were not that big. Think of an average of 40 people per course. Course Prerequisites Exam ECTS Comments PSYCH 2060 Educational Psychology None MC 6 3 Midterms, quizzes PSYCH 2078 Adolescent Psychology Introduction of Psychology MC 6 Mid-term, assignment PSYCH 4030 Psychology of Thinking and Decision-making Introduction of Psychology MC+ Open questions 6 2 Midterms, quizzes, group assignments, individual assignments PSYCH 4033 Psychology of Memory and Forgetting Introduction of Psychology MC+ Open questions 6 3 Midterms, quizzes, assignments Tips for future students: I would recommend anyone going on an exchange if they have the opportunity. It is an experience you will never forget and always will be grateful for it. You will make friends from all over the world and gain some cultural knowledge with it. When having doubts, don t think twice and JUST DO IT. It doesn t matter where you go you are never alone you just have to be brave to realize it. At the end of the experience you can only be proud of yourself!

6 San Fransisco New Orleans Miami San Fransisico

7 Maui Maui On the road, somewhere in California On the road, somewhere in Arizona

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