In mid-2019, I received the privilege of taking on an exchange programme for a full academic year at Northeastern University (NEU). NEU is located in Boston, one of the most liberal and diverse cities in the United States. There are approximately 260 students from all over the world participating in this programme concurrently with me at Northeastern University. Embarking on an exchange is not as easy as we thought, but it is a life-changing experience that challenges you, shapes you, teaches you, and will become part of you in later life.
For students who are interested in doing an exchange, I think it is very important to do enough research about your potential host university and its surrounding environment as well. The research is especially important for students with a clear career plan. As a Kiwi, this is an opportunity for me to explore a much bigger, more complex, and more competitive market. Massachusetts is not only a state with a wide range of top universities in the world but also the home base of traditional pharmaceutical industries and insurance parties in the United States. Apart from my university studies, I will be able to reach out to professionals and companies in the healthcare and technology industry. Through market research and participation in industrial summits, I can access more information from different parties and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the healthcare industry and the potential applications of technologies within health.
Being exposed to an environment so far different to New Zealand is similar to sailing from a lake into an open ocean. In general, the United States has a much higher population density and a more complex legal system than New Zealand. Cities like Boston, New York, and San Francisco demand fast-paced lifestyles. It is essential to give up your preconceived assumptions and not to hesitate to ask for help or advice. When I first arrived in Boston, I asked around my friend group and in the market to obtain the furniture to fill up my room. Your local classmates and friends can give you the necessary tips that enable you to make more cost-efficient choices, not only in recommending restaurants but also in areas such as health insurance, filing tax returns, and much more besides.