University of Newcastle - Newcastle, Australia

From Australian Studies to Performing Arts to Environmental Science, the University of Newcastle offers international students a wide variety of interesting, exciting and relevant courses. There are over 2,000 different courses available for students interested in studying abroad at the University of Newcastle.

Specifically, when enrolled in this program, you can take any level math course (freshman - senior level) that you have the prerequisite for, which will easily transfer over to Virginia Tech to fulfill mathematics requirements. Another benefit of this program is that there are many other courses that you can take to fulfill non-math requirements, too!

A semester at the University of Newcastle runs over 14 teaching weeks.

A 10 unit course normally comprises four contact hours a week, although courses requiring laboratory work, for example in science and engineering, often involve more contact hours.

Study Abroad students must enroll for a minimum of 30 units and a maximum of 40 units each semester.

Answered by Shelley Kasiske (Class of 06) about her semester at the University of Newcastle:

1. Did you participate in a home-stay? Would you recommend it to other students?
I participated in a home-stay program. The family I lived with was wonderful and I learned so much about the Australian culture, especially in family life and K-12 schooling. I was invited to join the family in some of their activities around town and while on vacation. I was even offered rides to the university if it was raining or too hot out to walk! One large negative aspect of the home-stay program was that I was the only college student in the neighborhood. Most of my friends lived a 30+ minute walk from my house. It wasn't as easy to stop by a friend's and say hello or hang out for an evening.

2. Was it hard for you to learn the language? Were there any resources available to help you do so? What were some of the barriers that you faced?
I love the Aussie slang! I chatted with new friends for hours teaching them American slang (which they knew from tv shows, movies, etc) and learning heaps of Aussie slang. I had an American friend tell me that an Australian affirmatively told him that "colour" should never be spelled without the 'u.'

3. How did the mathematics courses in your program compare to those available in the math department at Virginia Tech? What were some pros and cons of how the course material was presented in your program?
I did not have the prerequisites for one of my math courses. The math department was extremely nice and my professor understood my specific situation. The 1000 and 2000 level courses were taught with different syllabi and some courses were overloaded with information, as compared to Virginia Tech, because the average BS degree is only 3 years. The courses that they offer depend on the semester. They also invite students studying math to tutor peers in beginner classes during their "Maths Clinic" hours.

4. How much more did it cost you to attend the program than it did to go to Virginia Tech for a semester?
Because I'm an out-of-state student, it was actually cheaper for me to go to the University of Newcastle than Virginia Tech. Including room, board, tuition, and my flights to and from Sydney, it was the same as room, board, and tuition at Virginia Tech.

5. What specifically would you recommend that I see or do while I am in the program overseas?
Empty out your bank account and travel. You're only overseas once and you'll regret not taking the opportunity to see the country. Australia is almost the size of the United States, so be sure to book some weekend trips to Brisbane, Melbourne, etc. Another word of advice would be to make friends with locals instead of other Americans; I did this by joining several clubs.

6. What specific food did you enjoy the most?
Tim Tams, the Home Brand choc coated honeycomb and nut muslei bars, rocky road, pavlova, the traditional meat pie, and Passion Pop. My Australian "mother" cooked a lot of rice with Asian influence because of the closeness of the continents. They lacked any type of Mexican food, again, because of the distance.

7. Were the people friendly? Please describe some common characteristics of the native population.
Everyone was extremely friendly. When I first got there and had no place to stay besides a youth hostel with cockroaches, I was reminded by the locals that I should have "no worries." Australian students were friendly when I joined in several clubs and activities. The way that you know if someone's a true friend there is if they make fun of you and bash you to pieces! To Australians, this is the fun and friendly thing to do ... They love making fun of themselves too.

8. What was the most startling difference between their culture and ours in America?
The school system is different. In high school, students can specify an area in which they want to concentrate in, which will then affect the school that they go to. Since there are only a small number of universities in the entire country, it is common for students to live at home and attend the college that is closest to home. As well, their university program is only 3 years long, so they don't have to take any core classes to fulfill area requirements.

9. Is there anything else that you would want interested students to know about the program?
Initially, you'll feel like a freshman again. But the experience is well worth it. I suggest spending a year overseas, if at all possible.