Interview about State University New York at Geneseo
An interview with Myrthe Egberink
How did you find where to spend your semester abroad?
I got to SUNY Geneseo by luck, as I was supposed to go to the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia. I took Russian in my programme and worked very hard to get in, but then Putin invaded Ukraine so I couldn’t go. The IRIO department asked me if there is anywhere else I’d like to go, and I told them any English-speaking country would be great. They then offered me a spot at SUNY Geneseo, and I could not be more grateful; it is amazing!
What were the requirements for you to go to this place?
Not much, no English sufficiency test was needed. I uploaded my grades to Mobility Online and that was it.
What was/is your favourite sightseeing there?
New York City and New York State both are absolutely beautiful. The university campus is located about 5 hours from NYC and 2 hours from Toronto by car. Moreover, there are busses going to Rochester and Buffalo going every weekend. The area around campus is gorgeous as well with many waterfalls and beautiful hiking trails.
What was/is your favourite local food there?
The food is American. Hamburgers, hotdogs, pasta, pizza, a lot of carbs for every meal. Although it is possible to eat healthy food (they do have salads sometimes), I eat the same thing very often as it is the only ‘healthy’ option. On weekends, I splurge a bit and enjoy the Saturday and Sunday brunch with waffles, scrambled eggs with bacon, and bagels with smoked salmon.
Was/is there many green spaces to relax?
Lots and lots and lots. The whole campus is a sort of park so you can sit down, enjoy the view, and relax everywhere.
Did/do you practice any sports there?
I personally didn’t join a sports club, but I went for runs on my own. They also have a gym on campus to which all students have access included in the tuition. SUNY Geneseo does have countless clubs for literally all sports and activities you can think of (even things like beekeeping), so there is truly something for everyone.
Did/do you go out a lot? If so, where?
Yes, every weekend at least once. There are fraternity and sorority houses that host parties all weekend every weekend, so it’s like going to a house party every time you go out. It’s about 5 minutes walking distance from my building, so that’s very nice.
What did/do you think of the university? The location? The buildings? The teachers? The study programme?
The university is great. Everything is organized very well, the people are nice, professors are always willing to help you with anything. They organized a trip to the Niagara Falls for all international students (which they do every year) and they took the IR/PoliSci students to Washington D.C. to meet SUNY Geneseo Alumni and network in the city. The campus is a bit remote as the first big city is about an hour by bus away (Rochester), but it has everything you need and a Walmart close by. The university buildings are similar to the Harmony building in Groningen, modern but a little prettier. Even though SUNY Geneseo is one of the best public schools in the US, the courses are of a significantly lower level than at the RUG. You read a lot more than in Groningen (novels, mostly) but rarely a scientific paper, and most classes (seminars) are simply discussing your opinions on the novels you read. It’s a different way of educating that I personally like very much, and it’s a nice benefit to be able to put an A (9.5) for your minor on your transcript.
How did/does it go financially? The accommodation? Food? Public transports?
Financially, the downside of SUNY Geneseo is that you pay everything upfront. Everything truly means everything; tuition, housing, food, student activities, fees for clubs, gym, public transport off and on campus. For everything combined I paid about 9000 euros for one semester, which felt like a lot of money. However, if I compare it to what I spent in Groningen in 5 months, it comes down to just a little more than Groningen prices.
What was the most surprising thing about this new culture?
Americans are pretty difficult to understand in the beginning. American guys seem to be very interested in ‘European girls’ (they don’t know what the Netherlands is) but not anymore once you mention you’ve got a boyfriend, and American girls are extremely overly nice. I don’t consider myself a distant person, but us Dutch people are clearly more laid-back than American girls; they will tell you you’re the prettiest girl they’ve ever met and that they love you after talking for about ten minutes. Though it is wonderful that everybody is so nice, it made me a bit confused in the beginning because girls that you never see again are just as nice to you. It is a bit of an act that everyone does all the time and over time I learned to pick up clues that indicate that someone actually wants to get to know me instead of is just performing the ‘welcoming’ act.
What is the funniest word you learned in the language?
I didn’t learn many new words as I already spoke English.
What did/do you think of the workload?
Very very doable. Easy A’s and fun classes.
Did/do you meet any international students?
I met a lot of international students! The first two days on campus are only with internationals, so everyone you meet in the beginning is from outside the US. We made a group chat with everyone immediately and I made friends for life.
Gradings are given on a scale from 1-10.
Location of the University
(hard to reach <-> close by)
The US is faraway, and the campus is pretty far from big cities
Infrastructure/technology in the University
(no equipment <-> advanced application)
Lots of resources in all departments, amazing professors
Language requirements (English suffices <-> Official Language)
English is native language for everyone
The study programme
(easy <-> difficult)
Very doable and interesting
(informal <-> formal)
Comparable to the RUG, maybe a bit less formal even
Students from Dutch universities
(few <-> a lot)
We’re with about 12 Dutch RUG exchange students
(few international students <-> many international students)
A lot of them!
Points of Interest
(not so many <-> lots of museums etc.)
Not much to do around Geneseo, there is one theatre and a cinema
(only local food <-> great variety of restaurants)
American food, very unhealthy but of course tasty
(none <-> several natural parks/recreational parks)
(limited <-> many options/extra courses)
All sports available
(limited <-> many theatres/cinemas/pubs)
All sorts of activities available
(expensive <-> cheap)
I think the price is OK and it’s nice not to have to think about cooking for 4 months
(difficult to find & expensive <-> easy & affordable)
You share a room, but the suites and dorms aren’t bad, and I didn’t have to look for a room myself
(difficult to acquire <-> very easy to acquire)
Marco Polo fund was the only one I got
(expensive <-> cheap)
Cheap, but not a lot of options
(expensive <-> cheap)
Included in fees
(expensive <-> cheap)
All beer and entrance is free