Julia: Leaving UGA – “Once a dawg, always a dawg”

Earlier this morning I packed up and said my final goodbyes to UGA. I’m going to be honest here, I’m really struggling to write this; to find the words to do justice to the last 6 months. I don’t want to over-state it, as I am fully aware that this might not be everyone’s exchange experience, but this has truly been the best 6 months of my life; it was everything I’d hoped for and so much more. Athens has become home. The friends I have made here have become family.

Having known people who had been on exchange before me I thought I knew what to expect, but I really didn’t anticipate how tough it would be to leave. However, I have begun to realize that how I’m feeling is an indication of the importance of what I am leaving behind, the significance of the time I have had here. To avoid this blog turning into a soppy mess I’ve decided to use this final entry to debunk some myths I once thought about exchange, now that I am at the end of this experience. Hopefully it’s helpful to you!

Some of my exchange family on game day!

1.“Going on Exchange Changes you”

I don’t think exchange changes you so much as brings out the best in you. It brought to light things that I’d taken for granted in NZ, habits I hadn’t realized existed, complacency that had developed in relationships and the monotony of my study life and encouraged me to alter these things. Taking yourself out of your usual context for a period of time is so healthy in the way it opens your mind and encourages you to reflect

2. “I’ll be lonely/I’ll struggle to make friends”

Again, everyone has a slightly different exchange experience, but I honestly think that making friends on exchange is about going in with the right attitude. From my experience, If you make the effort to invest in people, step outside of your comfort zone, involve yourself in student life and say yes to the opportunities that come your way (especially in the first few weeks of exchange!) then you shouldn’t have problems building a community around you.

My intermural volleyball team- we made it to semi-finals!

3. So you leave, and then it’s all over?

 I was struggling with the thought of returning to NZ for honestly the last 2 months of my exchange, not wanting my time at UGA to end. While it’s now over, what I am absolutely certain of is that this experience doesn’t end here. Yes, the actual exchange is just for a period of time, but as cliché as it may sound, I know that the experiences I’ve have, the friends I’ve make and the memories I’ve formed will last a lifetime. Once a dawg, always a dawg!

A friend of mine insisted that we take senior pictures, as I am graduating on return to UoA!

Thanks for following my journey, friends. I am deeply grateful to 360 International for the opportunity to go on exchange and genuinely could not recommend it more highly! As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions at all!


Julia: Tops Tips for Travelling whilst Studying Abroad

Kia ora friends!

If you’re anything like me then the ol’ travel bug is big reason you’re looking into a semester abroad. As I’m now in my fourth month of exchange I thought I’d share some of the top tips I’ve learned along the way for travelling while studying abroad.

#1 Travel before (or after) your semester

In particular, if you’re planning on attending a college in the USA be prepared for the fact that class attendance is often compulsory and weekends are primarily consumed by football games – which you won’t want to miss out on, even if you’re not a football fan! I flew to the United States as soon as I could after UoA exams were finished, to travel through some of the north east USA and Canada and then the west coast – California, Nevada, Arizona. For the USA, I’d recommend travelling the opposite coast to where your host university is situated, as it can be time consuming to get across to during the semester. Also, make sure you know your visa limits when booking flights!

#2 Find your people

I’m a big advocate for breaking out of the exchange student bubble. However, when it comes to wanting to travel every weekend your fellow exchange students will more often than not be the ones most interested. My advice: find a few exchange students that you really click with and start planning early – traveling and planning is far easier in smaller groups and with likeminded people.

Julie, my close friend and travel buddy from Brazil!

#3 Don’t neglect your home base

I thought I’d want to spend every weekend travelling around the states but honestly, I have fallen in love with weekends at UGA and in Georgia. While your host university may be close to many other travel destinations, I would definitely take some time to explore the place you now call home. One of my favorite things about Georgia is that it borders the Great Smoky Mountain region and boasts some impressive day hikes on the Appalachian trail, which I’ve definitely taken advantage of!

#4 Balancing Spontaneity and Planning

The last 4 months have turned me into walking yes. Yes to spontaneity. Yes to opportunity. Yes to travel. Learning how to push past my comfort zone and say yes has led me on some of the greatest adventures of my life thus far. However, what I’ve discovered is that in order to be able to be spontaneous on exchange, planning has to happen before you leave. While I would definitely leave room for spontaneity, my top tip would be to assess the kind of travel that you want to do before leaving NZ and financially plan your priorities, so that you are able to be a ‘yes person’ when the situation arises.

As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or follow my journey on Instagram (@juliabudler)




Julia: First Impressions of the University of Georgia

“Oh New Zealand! That’s the capital of Australia, right?”

I’ve been living in Georgia for almost 2 months now and have heard that statement far too many times for my liking… However, aside from that, I am loving my American home and thought it was about time to share some of my first impressions with y’all!

The University of Georgia

It was honestly love at first sight when I arrived at UGA. The campus looks like it belongs in an early 2000’s coming of age film, and I’m definitely here for it. Built in 1785, the University of Georgia is the nation’s oldest state university, so is filled with gorgeous brick buildings and tall pillars, alongside the newer modern facilities. UGA has 22 dorms and 8 different housing communities, so there is naturally a thriving campus life! I’ve been loving living in the East Campus Village community – apartment style dorms that are just a stone’s throw away from village-summit dining and the famous Ramsey recreational center.

“It was honestly love at first sight when I arrived at UGA.”


“The campus looks like it belongs in an early 2000’s coming-of-age film, and I’m definitely here for it.”


One of the things that initially attracted me to UGA was their week-long international student orientation. During this week, around 100 of the international exchange students stayed together in the beautiful Rutherford Hall in central campus. Orientation provided lots of necessary information about campus life and academics, but mostly it gave all of us exchange students the chance to make new friends, through events like a Ben & Jerry’s icecream social, a pool party, and a pizza night. We also joined in with the freshman class of ’23 in creating the iconic G at Sanford Stadium!

“One of the things that initially attracted me to UGA was their week-long international student orientation.”


“We joined in with the freshman class of ’23 in creating the iconic G at Sanford Stadium!”

Athens, GA.

UGA is located in the college town of Athens, about 40 minutes outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Athens is your quintessential college town – independent coffee shops, funky bars, cute boutiques, and the iconic Georgia Theatre. The streets are always bustling with college students at any time of day or night. On any given nondescript Wednesday there will always be something going on downtown, which is the beauty of living in a college town!




To say that America is football-crazy is honestly an understatement. During the fall semester, Saturdays in Athens are dedicated to cheering on the UGA Bulldogs, with over 90,000 people packing into UGA’s Sanford Stadium. As a kiwi gal with no previous interest in football, I didn’t know what to expect of game days, but I can say without a doubt that they have been like nothing I’ve ever experienced before and doubtless ever will again after this exchange. Football is more than a game at UGA – it is culture, tradition, and community. I’m looking forward to all the games to come! Go Dawgs!

“During the Fall semester Saturdays in Athens are dedicated to cheering on the UGA Bulldogs, with over 90,000 people packing into UGA’s Sanford Stadium.”


I can’t wait to see what new adventures the next few months bring. Feel free to follow my journey on Instagram (@juliabudler) and reach out if you have any questions!