Most people are familiar with international exchange programs at universities, which give students the opportunity to go to a college in a different country to explore their interests and experience a new culture, but UNI also offers a National Student Exchange (NSE) program that offers a similar experience with universities in the U.S. NSE enables students to attend one of over 165 colleges and universities for one or two semesters while paying UNI tuition. This program allows the students an affordable opportunity to grow both educationally and as a person, explore different regions of the U.S. and expand their academic resume.
Hannah Berregaard, a senior studying Spanish and liberal studies, participated in the program during 2014 and 2015. She was curious about the program after her older sister did an exchange a few years earlier, and learned more about the program by visiting the booth at new student orientation. She chose the University of Oregon for her exchange. “I had always wanted to live in Oregon and had contemplated going there straight out of high school. I didn’t want the extra stress of paying out of state tuition so it was a great opportunity to experience a new place, people, and get out of my comfort zone while paying UNI tuition,” said Hannah.
Oregon was Hannah’s top choice because of her love for the outdoors, hiking, and sporting events. Spending two semesters at the university not only gave Hannah a chance to explore her hobbies and be involved in intramural sports, but it also sparked her interest in Spanish. “The campus and town of Eugene were beautiful, everyone was extremely helpful, and I got to experience it with my roommate and friends in the dorms who were going through it all with me,” said Hannah. “It was surprising how many people didn’t actually know anyone from Iowa or even where Iowa was. It was a good conversation starter!”
Hannah was truly impacted by her time in Oregon, and found that she had grown as a student and a person. “I came back a different person who was more independent and always willing to try new things and go on adventures. It also helped me find a path of study that I was interested in,” said Hannah. She enjoyed her experience so much that she is hoping to move back after graduation.
Alexis Hawley, a junior with a double major in psychology and criminology, did an exchange last spring to the Texas State University. “I was interested in an exchange because I have a love for travel,” said Alexis. An exchange also allowed her to pursue her dream of going to an out-of-state university without breaking the bank. While Texas State University wasn’t her first choice, Alexis was still thrilled because she loves Texas and is a fan of Texas A&M, which was only two hours away. “Location was everything,” said Alexis, “and the campus looked beautiful.”
Alexis took psychology, criminology and anthropology classes while at Texas State and was also involved with the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.
“I am an entirely different person thanks to NSE,” said Alexis. “Before I left, I couldn’t handle been away from my family for longer than two weeks. Once I left, I taught myself how to be independent and learned so many things about myself. Thanks to my exchange, I am 99% sure that I will be attending grad school in Texas. I grew as an individual and as a student.”
Both Alexis and Hannah recommend that UNI students learn more about the NSE program. “More people should really participate in national student exchange,” said Hannah.” I think it’s one of UNI’s best-kept secrets but it really is a life changing experience.”
For more information about the NSE program, visit here or attend one of the following informational sessions: 1 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 1, in Rod Library, Room 287; 3 p.m., Monday, Nov. 14, in the Presidential Room, Maucker Union; or 10 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 1, in the State College Room, Maucker Union.