University of Nebraska at Omaha

Tobias Burger '11

University: 
University of Nebraska at Omaha
Study Period: 
Fall 2011 (22nd Aug 2011 - 17th Dec 2011)
 

BurgerNebraska? Where is that? … and what are you going to do there? Well, that’s how everyone was reacting (including me) when I got the offer to go to the University of Nebraska at Omaha. All I wanted was to visit an English speaking country; my preference was the United States. Sure the preparations for a visa and the application are a little challenging, but once you’re there it’s alright, because you’ve planned everything in advance. Thanks to IS:Link my overall preparing took only a little over half a year. But the Midwest? In case you don’t know: Nebraska is in the very middle of the USA. Whenever you hear about hillbilly’s with shotguns in their old rusty pickup trucks, you probably hear about one of the Midwest states. So I had my concerns when I stepped into my plane to Omaha for spending a whole semester overseas.

Once my feet touched Nebraskan ground my prejudices were blown away. By the way: if you have any concerns about accents: people from the Midwest are known to talk very clearly and slowly – all in all very easy to understand.

First Impressions

University of Nebraska at Omaha

My airport pickup, a student volunteer brought me to my dorm and from then on everything just went perfectly. Although I was the first IS:Link student ever to go to UNO, the bureaucracy was way less than I expected. My master tip: attend the orientation week. You learn everything you need to know about campus life and you get in touch with other international students. UNO is a very international campus: students from over 150 different countries study at UNO, many Germans, Norwegians, Chinese and Koreans, just to mention some. You make friends very easy and have a bunch of people to explore Omaha’s surprisingly colorful nightlife with a wide range of offers. From Country music over piano bars to clubbing, you’ll find everything you want downtown. With some of my new international colleagues I even made trips to Kansas City or Chicago. Two awesome cities within driving distance. In the winter you can even go skiing in Colorado or you can visit Mount Rushmore (the famous rock with the presidents’ faces), well things you probably won’t do when you’re on vacation in the states. At the dorm, I was lucky to have an excellent American roommate, we were best buddies from the minute I met him, we went to College football games together (Nebraskans go crazy about College football, the stadium in Lincoln has 93.000 seats!) and not unimportant: He had a car to do groceries or go out for dinner. Other students bought cheap bikes or bought a car. Good to know: the cost of living in Omaha is the lowest in the whole United States.

Campus Life

Scott Village DormLet’s talk about the one thing I was there for in the first place. UNO - To put it in a nutshell: It’s fantastic. State of the art equipment, small learning groups, short distances, a clean environment and a shuttle service between the north- and south campus are just some aspects. Most of the buildings are new or renovated. By the way, the dorms I mentioned before are right next to one of the campuses, depending where you want to live. And of course there is the school spirit. Expect everything to be like in the many movies you may have seen. Although you see a lot of fan gear from Lincoln’s college teams everyone is quite proud to be a Maverick (the school’s team name). Since the football game was shut down, UNO is an ice hockey campus. On gameday busses bring you to the games, as a student you don’t pay for entrance to the stadium, it’s not as impressive as a Football gameday in Lincoln but definitely worth seeing. After the game you can follow the players in one of the clubs around downtown.

Classes

When you are in class the first time, everything looks very familiar. The teacher in the front presents slides, many students take notes by hand or on their laptops, but very soon you’ll recognize that there is much more to do than writing one exam at the end of the semester. There are assignments to do for probably every course you take. These homework style tasks can influence up to 50% of your final grade. In most courses there is also a second exam in the middle of the semester called the midterm exam. There are several other tasks to perform: take home exams, pop quizzes, presentations or term papers. All in all, you are quite busy during the week.

Sports Center

HPER

By the way, on average, American students take 4 classes in one semester but most of the international students take only 3. If you want to choose this reduced course load, make sure to choose an F-1 visa for your visit. For recreation on campus you can eat lunch in the student center, visit concerts and plays or work out at HPER. HPER? That’s UNO’s Fitness building. It’s free for students and has an amazing range of opportunities to compensate the almost unavoidable consumption of American fast-food. Two fitness centers, a swimming hall with two 25m pools, a spa, a climbing wall, an indoor running track and several multifunctional gyms will wait for your visit.

German Influences

Last but not least, another funny fact. Since the Midwest was settled by German immigrants, almost everyone has some German roots. Many of them have been to Germany before and won’t hesitate to tell you their whole story. If you are there during fall, make sure to check out one of the many Oktoberfest parties around town during September and October with German beer, Schnitzel and Sauerkraut.

The Midwest is a great place to be, so settle up and embrace the difference – with IS:Link!