The incident with campus security

So I talked I my last post about how UNO is a dry campus and that there is campus security patrolling around. Well, we got a really good example of how things can go down here the other day.

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The dry campus

All University of Nebraska campuses are so called dry campuses, which means there is no alcohol allowed on the premises. I practice this means that you go to private parties like house parties, fraternity parties or bars and clubs to get drunk. All the activities organized by the University are alcohol-free, which is interesting since you basically feel like you are 14 again; playing games for children that people on Europe only would play if they’ve had a couple of beers.

Enforcing this rule there is the campus security, which patrols around the campus, pulling over cars that look suspicious and other stuff. If you get caught you’ll have to enroll in a class which costs you $100. The second time you get caught you’ll pay $200 for the advanced course. The third time you’ll get kicked of the campus. I have a feeling you wont be able to get credit-points for attending those classes either, so I think I’ll concentrate my drinking outside of the campus.

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One of the free events organized from the school

Heard today at the alcohol-free welcoming event:
“This sucks, I really need a beer”
“Dude, for this shit we need vodka!”

Tips:

  • Figure out in advance if you want to live on a dry campus or not before you choose your exchange destination
  • If you live on a dry campus, try to see it as a part of the experience and a part of the local culture
  • Get drunk when you get the chance outside of the campus
  • Don’t get caught by campus security

The move-in

As an international exchange student, I arrived one week before the semester started. During the first week we had orientation, which was very well organized. There was a lot of obvious stuff and repetitions, but also some pretty essential information.

The move-in itself was just normal, like checking into a hotel. Get the key and you’re set. All of my roommates were American, so I would have the apartment for myself the first week. This had it’s perks, but it also meant that I didn’t have any kitchenware. Luckily you can find almost any food in a microwave version at Walmart. Also, I got the basic kitchenware from a fellow exchange student whose apartment kitchen was full of stuff from the old occupant.

Each apartment has rooms for 4 people and a common area with kitchen and sofas. To see how the apartment looks, you can check out this fairly awkward video:

I basically had a trouble free move-in. Others however got a more interesting experience. For instance, one of the exchange-students luggage was accidentally sent to Alaska by the airline and one of the German guys had a random guy sleeping on the sofa in the common area of the apartment.

You know you live in Tornado Alley when you get handed out papers like these
You know you live in Tornado Alley when you get handed out papers like these

As I arrived a couple of days earlier than the official move-in date, I had a great chance to follow from the side when the other students moved in. Luckily I had woken up early that day (jet-lag does that to you), so when my new roommates arrived, I was already ready. It was a weird sight to see students coming with their own cars, their parents coming with another. Some people where more independent,  doing everything themselves and others would sit on their beds while the parents did all the moving in for them.

I was really happy however to get to stay with 3 other Americans, since almost all the other exchange students lives with at least one other exchange student.

People were carrying their belongings to their new homes


Tips:

  • Try to arrange it, if you can, so that you get to stay with the local people. This way you can learn more about the culture and connect to more people

The Trip

My trip to USA started very early in the morning.

My plan was as following:

  1. Turku – Helsinki by bus
  2. Helsinki – Berlin by plane
  3. Berlin – Chicago by plane
  4. Chicago  – Omaha by plane

I haven’t bought a flight back since I’ll be traveling around the US during my grace period and will probably leave from another airport than Omaha. Otherwise I would recommend taking a flexible round-trip ticket for almost the same price as one-way ticket.

When arriving at Chicago airport you first walk from your plane to the booths were you will have to answer some questions before entering the country. This is a very critical part if you have an transfer flight. You could end up standing in line for hours if you are one of the last to leave the plane. What I would recommend is to have everything ready before leaving the plane and in some cases even checking out the map of the airport before you arrive, to make things smoother.

I found this very useful link with information about entering the US. For instance what you need, what to expect when you arrive and waiting times for entering the border:
http://www.usa.gov/visitors/arriving.shtml

The entertainment system on the back of the seat held me entertained for the whole trip.
The entertainment system on the back of the seat held me entertained for the whole trip

Tips:

  • Make sure you are ready to leave (bags packed, shoes on) when you are allowed to leave the plane
  • Walk straight for the check in
  • Leave enough room for your transfer flight if you have one
  • Plan ahead if you are going to leave from the same airport or if you will leave from somewhere else.
  • Pack stuff you could need in your carry-on bag if your bag was to get lost at the airport

Before the trip

My first update will be about my preparation before my travel.

As I will be living the whole semester on the campus in a rented apartment, I would have to either bring my own bed-sheets and towels, or buy them at destination. I decided to check with my family (which has a habit of saving stuff) to see if there were any old sheets that I could bring with me and throw after the exchange to make room in my luggage for other stuff. Luckily my mother found both sheets and towels for me, which will sure come in handy.

For the check-in luggage I used a big luggage bag and for the carry-on luggage I had to decide between a larger backpack or a heavy bag. I traded a little space for more weight and the convenience of carrying some of the stuff on my back. It later turned out to be a good choice.

ImageI decided to ditch the 3kg (6.6lbs) bag to the right for the 1kg (2.2lbs) backpack to the left.

DIY

I also bought a laptop computer from a store on the internet in the USA, which brings me to my first DIY project on this site. I took the measures of my future laptop from the manufacturers site and sew my own laptop sleeve.
Image

I used the instructions in this link as a base for my sleeve. However you could also find more instructions from this link. I was really surprised about how good the sleeve ended up to be.

ImageI also printed out some special symbols on my label-printer for the US keyboard.


Tips:

  • Bring with you stuff you can throw away in the end of your exchange that you would have to buy otherwise (sheets, towels, etc.)
  • Take a larger backpack instead of a bag as carry-on when you’ve got big checked luggage

About the Blog

Hello everyone and welcome to my blog!

Let me briefly introduce myself. My name is Oscar and I study psychology at Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland. I’m 23 years old and starting my third year of psychology studies. I’ll be studying mostly industrial- and organizational psychology at UNO but this blog will be more about what happens outside the classrooms. Anyone interested in what I’m up to, my experiences, DIY-projects I do, information; about the University (UNO), student exchange to the US in general, might find some value from this blog.

This blog serves the purpose of sharing:

  • my experiences during my exchange to my friends and family
  • information about Omaha, University of Nebraska (UNO) and the US to any future exchange students
  • tips and information about being an exchange student in general
  • any DIY project I’ll be making during my trip

I also receive some credits for writing this blog, with further motivates me to write.

I’ll try to place relevant tags to my posts to make it easy to find information you like on the blog.