ISOIS ▸ Final reports

Host country:
Host institution:
Mobility type:
Program:
Faculty:
Ac. year:
Semesters:
Study level:
Language filled in:

Western Connecticut State University

USA 2019/2020 ISEP Exchange

Personal data
Mobility type:
study

Faculty at MU:
Faculty of Law

Field of study:
Law and Legal Science / Law

Level of study during period of placement:
Master

Language used:
English

Summer/winter school?:
no

Period of studies:
autumn 2019

Period of placement (from-to):
2019-08-24 - 2019-12-15

Number of months:
4.00

Activities before my departure abroad
Where can information be found about courses taught at the foreign school?:
Official ISEP website has all universities even with the necessary information and useful links connected with the particular university where it is possible to find additional information about courses.

Which documents were needed for acceptance at the foreign university?:
If I remember correctly, I definitely needed the English certificate (Toefl), motivation letter, letter of recommendation from a professor and transcript of finished classes and grades from my home university (MU).

How far ahead did you have to organise your acceptance?:
I think it was at least 9 months.

Did you need a visa?:
yes

Documents and materials needed for a visa:
I needed the letter of acceptance from the US university, confirmation about insurance, all papers from my home university (about support), DS-form and other documents that were issued by the embassy itself. But honestly, they just asked about the DS-form and my passport. :-)

Length of wait for visa:
I received the visa within one week of my visit to the US embassy.

Fee for the visa:
The fee was in the amount of 180 USD (I don't remember exactly, maybe there were some other small additional fees but it was nothing huge).

Studies
Did you have a Learning Agreement signed before your departure?:
yes

If not, why not?:

Before your departure did you know how your courses would be recognised by your home faculty?:
Yes, my Learning Agreement was signed before my departure so I knew what to expect.

During your stay did you change your Learning Agreement?:
Yes, I dropped one class just because I wanted to have more free time to also enjoy the foreign country and I had enough credits so there was no problem with that.

When and how did course registration take place? Are there any restrictions? Possibilities of making changes?:
I was automatically registered by the ISEP organization. I chose the classes in my ISEP account and they handed them over to my host university which signed me for the classes I had chosen. I just needed to make sure there are no prerequisites or other requirements. When I arrived to the US, we got almost two weeks to decide whether we want to change any classes or not - either drop them or add some.

Did you take any examinations at the foreign school?:
Yes, I had many exams in my classes. The biggest ones were the mid-term exams and at the end of the semester also final exams. It was a nice experience.

Does the school use the ECTS system?:
no

If not then explain how the credits there were recalculated into ECTS:
My classes were for 3 credits each in the US but I received double in ECTS, i.e. 6 credits for each American class.

Describe the teaching methods (theory, practical and projects) and assessment of students:
It really depended on the professor. Some professors were giving us a lot of readings and then the classes were really practical and more focused on discussion. Another professor let us making the slide presentation which was very boring. One more professor was trying to combine all of that which I liked the most. The assessment was based on the quizzes, mid-term and final exams, assignments and other homework and the activity in the class. The final grade was then the combination of all of it which I consider very fair and impartial.

Quality of teaching in comparison with home school:
As mentioned above, it always depends on the professor. I can say that the professors in the US are much more helpful and excited about teaching, the classes were more interesting, full of discussion and sharing the opinions. The materials in the test were always from the material we went over in the class or which were assigned to reading. That is what I miss in the Czech Republic, I usually feel really confused about what to study, what I need to know and which materials use for the preparation for the exams; I didn't experience this feeling abroad and I would really welcome this accuracy and help from my Czech professors.

How did you receive study materials?:
I bought the prescribed and required books. We could just rent them or buy them but sometimes buying on Amazon was even cheaper than rent at the university so it's really good to compare the options. When other materials were needed, the professors always brought them to the class.

Can you recommend an interesting course/subject/teacher?:
I really enjoyed Constitutional law (JLA 322-02) with professor Terrence P. Dwyer. Constitutional law in the US has many interesting topics of modern society and I really liked reading the case law and thinking about others' opinions.

How well is the school library equipped?:
Because I bought the books I needed, I didn't really use the library much. But there were more libraries on the campus (maybe because we had two campuses) and they both had computers with the possibility of free printing and scanning which I really appreciated!

Availability of computers, internet access, level of software needed, requirements on notebook:
I brought my own laptop but there were computers everywhere on campus. We had study rooms with computers, libraries also had them and the internet access was everywhere on campus. I didn't need any special software so I cannot consider how good it was (and I'm also not the very technical type of person so I really cannot evaluate that :-D).

Options from printing and copying:
As I already mentioned, printing and scanning were for free all around the campus. Copying was a small problem, because it wasn't possible to copy anything, unfortunately. All I could do was to scan what I need and then print it.

Does the foreign school/student organisation arrange special events for exchange students?:
yes

If yes then what?:
There was an International club in the past, however, it's not on the campus anymore. But the international coordinator Donna was really friendly and helpful. She arranged a few international meetings for all of the international students - most of them were dinners for free which we really enjoyed! But she was also trying to make events where we could share our culture and experience.

How would you assess your integration with the local students (evaluation like in school from 1 to 5 with 1 as highest):
2

or describe in your own words:
I met a lot of friends from many countries all around the world but I also had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with local American students!

Practical questions on your placement
Where did you live?:
I lived on campus in the student dormitory which was called Pinney Hall. I shared the room with one more girl Dina who was American and was really friendly. The whole apartment was shared with two other girls who were also good friends. We had our own kitchen in the apartment, living room and two bathrooms. I would say it was bigger and better than my apartment in the Czech Republic. :D

Cost of accommodation - monthly:
0 USD

Additional comments to the price of accommodation (as to what the price includes):
I didn't pay for the accommodation because it was provided by the university (or the ISEP program). It was included in all costs and fees I paid for the program and I didn't need to take care of it. And it included everything except the equipment. We needed to buy the dishes, cleaning stuff etc.

Describe the equipment. Tips for future students – what should they bring with them?:
I don't think it is possible to bring everything (especially if you fly really far away). But I needed to buy all the dishes, decorations, cleaning stuff, and hygiene supplies. I was lucky because my roommates were really friendly, they understood my situation and they offered me that I could borrow a lot of things from them so that I didn't have to buy all of them.

How and how far ahead should accommodation be organised?:
I don't know because I really didn't have to take care of it. The accommodation was provided by the university and I can say that it wasn't bad and I had most of the essential things I needed. I can say they did a really good job!

What are the catering options?:
I could cook by myself because I had a kitchen in the apartment. Also, the supermarket was just down the hill not far from the campus and the university shuttle stopped there so it was also easy to buy the food. I also received the meal plan from the university (or ISEP) where I had 75 meals for the semester which I could use in the local cafeterias on the campus. The meal plan also contained the flex points which were actually a certain amount of money which we could also use on campus for coffee, snacks, cookies or other small trifles.

What are the rough costs of groceries (compare with Czech prices):
In general, groceries and other healthy food are much more expensive than in the Czech Republic.

Transport to location of placement:
I took a special van from JFK airport (New York) to Connecticut which dropped me off not far away from the university campus. The university coordinator then picked me up there and drove me to the school.

Rough prices for transportation:
Transportation is also more expensive in the US than in the Czech Republic. Especially now, when we have really low student prices. The orientation price for transportation is similar to the usual adult prices in the Czech Republic, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Tips for purchasing cheap tickets and other recommendations:
Try to look up the transportation in advance so that you can get the cheapest connections, they are usually quickly sold out. Just look up on the internet the easiest and cheapest way. Also, try to find friends and travel together, Uber is sometimes cheaper than public transportation when you share it.
Also, in Connecticut, you have public transportation for free when you get an Upass and you have your student ID with you. But once you cross the borders you have to pay.

What are the local transport options (public transport, cycling, on foot, rough prices):
The most typical way of traveling is by car so it's really not easy to get somewhere when you don't have one. Walking is dangerous as there are no sidewalks, cycling is similar but can be nice especially in summer because of the thick traffic. I used the bus or train the most often but traveling can take even a few hours more than by car.

What kind of formalities have to be arranged before arrival, for example residence permit?:
I just needed to get a student visa (J1).

What health insurance did you use? (rough price, advantages, disadvantages, is it necessary to arrange insurance at the university other than your home (Czech) insurance?):
I had to be insured and I also had to use the ISEP insurance. It was quite expensive, I paid 36O USD and as we found out with other students, it didn't cover much.

Did you have any experience with medical treatment abroad?:
Luckily not. I didn't need to visit any doctors.

Did you work during your studies?:
No, it wasn't allowed to work in the US while being on student exchange. The only option was to work on campus but the offers were limited and already occupied so I decided to take a break and not to work during my semester abroad.

What are the conditions for working for MU students?:
They are the same as for the other students, once you are an international student in the US and you have a student visa, you are not allowed to work. The only option is to work on campus.

Tips for free-time activities:
There was a nice club (with many events, also student nights) not far from the campus, it was called Molly Darcy's and we spent a lot of nights there with my friends. Also, there are many activities on campus, the schedule is always on the university's website and you can find every day something interesting to do. Moreover, the gym facilities are open and accessible for free. You can also sign in for trips which are organized by the university for really cheap prices!

Financial support and expenses
Total grant from Centre for International Cooperation:
60000 CZK

Monthly grant in CZK:
15000 CZK

Number of supported months:
4

Total number of months:
4

What other sources did you make use of to finance your placement?:
I had been saving money before I went to the US because I expected it to be expensive, also my parents helped me with some payments.

If you received another grant, state which and how much in CZK:

 
Total fees associated with enrolment at the university:
100 USD

a/ amount of enrolment fee:
325 USD

b/ amount of tuition fees:
0 USD

c/ amount of other fees (which):
360 USD

 
What was your average monthly expenditure?:
700 USD

a/ of which for accommodation:
0 USD

b/ of which for catering:
100 USD

c/ travel and recreation:
600 USD

Any comments to the average monthly expenditure:

Recognition of foreign studies at the home faculty
How many credits did you gain during your studies (in the system of the foreign school)?:
12

How many ECTS credits were recognised at MU?:
24

Did you know in advance which of your courses would be recognised by your home faculty?:
Yes, I consulted all the conditions with the responsible professor.

What problems did you have with recognition?:
None, I knew that my classes wouldn't be recognized in the Czech Republic and I have to catch up on everything I missed. However, I will receive the credits for the foreign classes which will be accepted as D classes.

Overall assessment
Assessment of personal benefit (1 = excellent):
1

Assessment of academic benefit (1 = excellent):
1

Evaluate the information and support provided by the foreign school (1 = excellent):
1

Did you encounter any serious problems during your stay:
No, all the faculty staff was extremely friendly and helpful so I didn't experience any serious problems.

What would you recommend to take with you:
Whatever you like. There is never enough space to pack things for a few months so I would recommend taking some clothes, hygienic supplies, favorite food and expect to buy other things.

What most surprised you at the partner university in a positive way:
The way how classes were held and how friendly people were.

What most surprised you at the partner university in a negative way:
Their cafeteria and American food.

Further comments: