Experience report Tucson Arizona

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1 Experience report Tucson Arizona Name: Zoë Krijnen Study Program: Psychology Exchange semester: Spring 2013 Academic year: Host University: University of Arizona Country: United States of America I GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE SCHOOL The University of Arizona is a big campus with a lot of buildings. There are lots of palmtrees and cacti on campus. There is also a lot of grass and even a little park which make it both really nice to walk outside on campus. The University is located really central in Tucson. The campus is close to downtown Tucson and also close to the bars and restaurants on 4 th avenue. What I liked a lot about this campus is that there is a street, University Blvd, where there are a lot of bars, restaurants, shops, barbershops, and even a tattoo shop. It is really nice to go out here because there are only students. Although the campus is relatively big, most of it is centrally located and you don t need a bike or public transportation because all of it is walking distance. There is a lot of different kinds of activities on campus. There are clubs praciticing on the UA mall (a big field of grass on campus), there is a big gym where you can workout, there is even a movie theatre on campus! There is a foodcourt where you can grab some breakfast, lunch, dinner. Most of them is fastfood, which will give you the typical American experience. Most interesting to see in Tucson are the mountains. For example, Mt. Lemmon, A-mountain, Tumamoc Mountain, they all give you a beautiful view over Tucson. The nature is amazing with a lot of cacti who are gigantic (more than 4 meters long)! The Desert Museum is also very interesting because it shows a lot of information about the local habitat. From Tucson it is easy to rent a car and travel to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Thombstone, Bisbee. Almost students go to the University of Arizona. I have no idea how many of those are exchange students for one or two semesters. There are also a lot of students who are international students and doing their entire bachelor-, master- or PhD degree at the University of Arizona. II PRACTICAL INFORMATION Information before you left I received some information from the host university before my departure. They send me information about housing, the campus, and the international student association. Tilburg University also gave me a pre-departure guide which was very useful. There is a lot of organization before you go abroad and it is very helpful to have these kinds of information as guideline. Visa procedure and arrival The Visa procedure was longer than expected. Especially because we lost contact with University of Arizona for a couple of weeks and they had to send the paperwork by mail (which takes a couple of days). I had to change my tickets because my Visa was not ready yet. It is important to be on time with making an appointment at the Consulate in Amsterdam because they are very busy during the end of the year and because of the holidays it will take the TNT longer to deliver your passport and Visa on time! The Study Abroad Office at Tilburg University wasn t really helpful during the time I had to arrange everything and I didn t hear anything from Arizona. They even told me I should think about going somewhere else because they lost contact. I decided to make a phonecall

2 myself to the University of Arizona that night and it turned out there was no problem at all and I was accepted. So, it is very important to be active yourself! Nobody picked me up from the airport when I arrived in Tucson. I think this would have been great. I had an appointment with my coordinator the first day of school and she helped me with arranging the last stuff. Orientation/Introduction activities The first week there was an introduction week for all exchange student. Unfortunately, I missed this introduction because my Visa wasn t ready by then. During the first weeks there is also a welcome dinner for international students. These events organized by Study Abroad and Exchange office are only for international students. But, it is really nice to meet a lot of other international students because they are in the exact same situation as you are. There is also a Buddy Program. This means you are linked to local students and this program organizes events which you can attend. I think this is a very good program. Especially in the beginning it is nice to have some people who can show you around Tucson and campus. Housing You have to arrange housing yourself. The University of Arizona will send you some information about living on campus. There are also a lot of off campus opportunities. I lived off campus, but still really close to campus and downtown centre. Living on campus has it advantages because you are close to literally everything. I think it is a disadvantage that you will not have your own bedroom (you will have a roommate) and you will share toilet/shower with the entire floor. There will be an older student that is responsible for you and you will have to obey a lot of rules when you live in a dorm on campus. I lived off campus, College Town on Euclid. This apartment was relatively cheap compared to other accomodations. I liked this apartment because you will have a big room for yourself. There is a swimmingpool, laundry and gym. It is really close to campus (walking +/- 15 minutes). Here are some links: On campus living: College Town on Euclid: Living Costs Your tickets will be around I lived in a relatively cheap apartment for $385 a month. Most apartments are around $450-$600 a month. Groceries are more expensive compared to the Netherlands. But you will safe a lot of money if you cook yourself instead of going out for eating every night. I financed my exchange period with the parttime job I had since I was fifteen. I believe I spend $6000 totally on this entire experience. Be aware that you will have to pay a lot of money for insurance ($1300 in Spring Semester). Academic Calendar The courses started this year on the 9 th of January and the last day of courses was May 1 st and from 3 rd 9 th we had our finals. There aren t much holidays during the spring semester, but you will have one week spring break in March. Furthermore, there will be no classes on Martin Luther Kings Day, end of January. The International Office There are four persons who are responsible for incoming exchange students. Each of these persons are responsible for students from certain countries. As an incoming student you will have your own person who is responsible for you. You will meet this adviser when you arrive in Tucson. They will give you a lot of information about signing in for courses, public

3 transportation, international student associations. If you have further questions you can send them an or just make an appointment. There is also an International Student Service building, they will help you with your Visa paperwork and are able to provide a travel signature if you would like to travel to Mexico (which is really close to Tucson) or maybe Canada/other countries. Exchange promotion To promote Tilburg University, I attended the study abroad fair on the University of Arizona campus one of the first weeks I was a student in Arizona. Social Activities There is an introduction week the week before the lectures start. There is a welcome dinner the first week of the semester and during the first month there is an ask-a-wildcat event. There will also be one or two daytrips with the International Student Services. The Buddy Program will organize 4 events throughout the semester. There are multiple organizations for international students. There is the International Student Association. But there is also an organization special for Asian people. I did not have much contact with local students. Most of my friends were international. Most of them were also on exchange and some of them were just international students who were doing their entire degree at the University of Arizona. During this semester there were also some international students who just organized something themselves and then invited more international students. I organized a potluck and a dutch night myself and these are also great opportunities to meet more students. If you attend a lot of activities, trips and/or parties you will get to know a lot of people in no time. During my exchange I traveled to New York and Mexico. I also made a roadtrip and visited Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego and the Grand Canyon. Culture and Language I did experience a small culture shock when I arrived in Tucson. I think this was especially the case because I did not expect the United States to be that much different compared to the Netherlands. If you expect little or no change, you will be amazed by how many differences there are in even the smallest things. I got used to this in less than two weeks. I remember having the most difficulties with the distances in Tucson in the beginning. Most stores are located far apart from eachother. If you would live in Tucson, you would defenitely need a car to get around. If you are on exchange you will notice you can easily get around using a bike or the bus. You might get to know some American friends who will all have a car and maybe can give you rides, which is really convenient sometimes. Americans are really friendly. Especially the first weeks when I was still kind of lost in the city and on campus people were really friendly and helpful when I asked them questions or directions. You have to be careful with this kindness because not all of it is really meant. Some people for example say we should defenitely hang out this weekend, but in the end it was just a formality/way of speaking. Personal Development Going abroad affected my cultural and social point of view a lot. I realized we use a lot of stereotypes while thinking about other cultures, religions and beliefs. It is really interesting to hang out with people from totally different cultures. I have been in a lot of interesting discussions about life. We also celebrated an Indian festival. I think that going abroad will make you more openminded about people, life and the world. I think going abroad and relying totally on yourself will give you more selfconfidence and trust. Right now, I know that things will be okay. I feel that I am not really stressed anymore about a job interview or something else because right now I know that I will be okay, whatever might happen. I think this is the most important thing that I could learn in live.

4 For me, the first week was the worst experience. Because I arrived late I had to arrange everything in just a day and a half. I couldn t eat and sleep, felt really stressed because I was insecure and unfamiliar with the entire new situation. This was only the first week, after I survived this week I felt more and more confident and after a month I felt totally comfortable. III ACADEMIC INFORMATION Academic level at a host university Of course all courses are offered in english at the University of Arizona. I was too late to subscribe for all the courses that I wanted in the first place but they placed me in four courses that I really liked. Abnormal Psychology, Health Psychology, Psychology of Religion and Spirituality and Judgment and Decision Making. The amounts of students were relatively big in these classes. Around 300 students. But I was used to these amounts in Tilburg. I realized that the classes are way more interactive at the University of Arizona. Students ask a lot more questions and try to start a discussion with the professor. There are a lot more assignments at the UofA and also an exam (mid-term) during the semester. I think this made it more easy for me to study and receive good grades at the finals at the end of the semester. I think there is more authority for professors in the Netherlands. At the University of Arizona the professors even invited the students to send them s about nearly everything they have questions about. The professors are really motivated and willing to explain even subjects that aren t relevant for the course. I really like this kind of teaching because it is really motivating for a student to have a professor that is so excited and motivated about his own course and field of work. Exams All the courses I took were examinated with written exams. Most of them were multiple choice because of the large amounts of participants in those courses. Other It s easy to go to the library. There are always a lot of computers available because most students bring their own laptop to class. If you need to print something or look up articles, you can always ask the librarians for help. But it s very easy. Description of Courses All courses were undergraduate level Course Prerequisites Exam ECTS Comments PSY 333 Judgment None Written 6 Mid-term, two bigger & Decision Making assignments, PSY 357 Psychology of Religion and Spirituality PSY 381 Abnormal Psychology PSY 383 Health Psychology attendance None Written 6 Mid-term, three assignments, attendance None Written 6 Three Mid-terms, online weekly assignments None Written 6 Mid-term, one assignment, online weekly assignments, attendance Tips for the future students: I would defenitely recommend an exchange period. First of all, you meet a lot of new interesting people with different cultures and views of live! Second, going abroad will give

5 you a kind of selfconfidence you will never achieve by not taking this opportunity. I would recommend this host university to everyone who is interested in a real American college experience. The campus is enormous compared to Tilburg University. There is a lot of activities going on on campus. There is the possibility to join a lot of groups such as sports, a-capella, salsa dancing, stand up comedy, and even a Harry Potter group! The sportcenter is really big and recently renewed with a nice swimmingpool. Also there is the University of Arizona Outdoor Adventures, they plan really good trips (for a reasonable price). For example, hiking in Utah, surfing in California and rock climbing in Tucson. Tucson is THE place to go to if you like outdoor activities such as hiking, mountainbiking and rockclimbing. The weather is excellent, around degrees celcius during winter and degrees celcius during summer. I wouldn t go to Tucson if you are more attracted to life in a city, because although Tucson is very big, it is very layed-back and easy going as you are familiar with in smaller towns in the Netherlands. A picture is worth a thousand words

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