Monday, September 21, 2009

What do the new exchange students make of Plattsburgh?

By Daniel Ring

What do the new exchange students make of Plattsburgh?

According to the SUNY Plattsburgh website, the university ‘is a balanced environment that is conducive to learning and filled with opportunities’ but how does it compare to universities overseas? Forget ‘student satisfaction ratings’ we want the real stories from those that have lived and worked on several campuses. So who better to turn to than our very own international exchange students? Several students from Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia answered several questions about what is life is like on their home campuses and how Plattsburgh fares in comparison.

On Nightlife

Nightlife in Plattsburgh is predominantly bar focussed, which can is restricting for younger students seeing as the legal drinking age is 21. However, there are non alcoholic nights in places like Karma which provide a club atmosphere for people 18 and over. Pub crawls (an organized trail through different pubs/bars, they are a staple feature of UK university nightlife) don’t tend to occur. How does this compare to the nights out at their own universities?

Matt (University of East Anglia, UK)
‘There tends to be a mixture of nights on campus and in the town though I personally prefer the pubs. There are plenty close to the student housing and often have special deals on. We also have huge, company organized pub crawls like Carnage. In Plattsburgh there isn’t any nightlife unless the you create it yourself, thankfully the students here are very good at that.’

Julianna (University of Prince Edward Island, Canada)
‘The drinking age in my province is 19 so people so we tend to have more house parties rather than nights out in the town. We don’t really have anything organized on campus like at Plattsburgh, though its smaller so it’s easier to meet more people.’

Most universities have a particular drink that everyone loves, it’s usually something in plentiful supply, cheap and normally rather potent. Unfortunately the one thing it normally isn’t is tasty. At Plattsburgh it tends to be whatever anyone can get hold of, but what did the exchange students normally drink at home?

Leanne (University of Alberta, Canada)
It has to be Silver Beer, it’s cheap, nasty and everyone in my faculty drinks it.

‘Everyone drinks Snakebite (cider and lager with a dash of Blackcurrant cordial) but I prefer just straight Strongbow.’

Andy (University of Central Lancashire, UK)
‘Fat Frogs, its just dirty mix of every alcho-pop going. A great way to start off the night!’

Emma (University of Queensland, Australia)
‘XXXX lager, named as such because you can’t put shit on the can!’

On Shopping

Plattsburgh has several offerings when it comes to shopping in the city. There is the downtown area with several independent stores such as ‘DressCode’ and ‘Under One Roof’. There is also the Mall and a large Walmart nearer the outskirts of the town.

‘There are lots of independent high-end stores in Edmonton, and West Edmonton mall, the biggest mall in the world, is a 20min bus ride from the center. Plattsburgh is very different, I haven’t seen anywhere near the same variety and i think that is reflected in people’s fashion on campus.’

‘My university is located right in the city center so it is very close to the shopping center. However, it’s quite expensive because, being the capital, there is a lot of tourism. Students tend to shop on the west-end. My personal favorites are Dotti, Elle and Topshop. Plattsburgh is a lot cheaper, as a student I prefer it.’

‘Preston has two main shopping areas, the high street where there is more independent stuff and the mall for the more commercial stores. It’s a good mixture, with plenty of stores catered for students. I find that the stores in Plattsburgh are focussed more towards the Plattsburgh locals.

On Music

Whilst Plattsburgh doesn’t have a lot of big names play at the university, an inquisitive student will discover that the surrounding area has a some of local talent and Montreal is also a good place to go to discover something new. However, the university doesn’t really promote anything and it as such it’s difficult students especially foreign ones to really discover anything in the area.

‘UEA is one of the best universities in the country for live music, a lot of big names in the UK such as The Arctic Monkeys, Scouting for Girls and The Killers have played there. I haven’t seen the live music scene at Plattsburgh yet but everyone seems to play RnB here!’

‘We have a lot of student bands rather than big names. However there are a lot of music festivals close by in Brisbane and we get a lot of student discounts because of that. Unfortunately I haven’t heard anything about live music at Plattsburgh.’

‘I haven’t really experienced the music scene at Plattsburgh, they don’t really advertise it. We have quite a lot of Canadian live music such as Metric, Wintersleep and Sam Roberts.’

So according to our exchange students it seems as if Plattsburgh has a very different culture and atmosphere to most places abroad. Unfortunately it looks as if many of these other universities offer better services that on campus and in the local surronding area. Thankfully the university is in a good position to travel from; Montreal and New York City are easily accessible. In the meantime, perhaps SUNY Plattsburgh needs to see what it can provide in order to be a more attractive campus to all students, both local and international.

A typical scene on a ‘Carnage’ pub crawl in Norwich.

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