JMU or SUNY New Paltz?? for a semester abroad in the US?

I'm an Egyptian student "junior", business major, concentration marketing, with a Computer Science minor... I'll be having a semester abroad next semester in the US and my options are JMU James Madison University, and SUNY new paltz..

where should i go? and/or which courses should i get?


I need info about the two universities.. I only know their rankings JMU 22nd, SUNY 8th... the courses i'll take will be electives so they've got nothing to do with my requirements.. what are the good courses to take? whats the student life like? the dorms? the outings? activities? any info about one of the 2 universities would mean a lot to me.. the sites aren't really that usefull.

3 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I don't know anything SUNY New Paltz, BUT I spent one year at JMU. It was an overall, wonderful experience! I'm from the west coast, so visiting Virginia was culturally, very different from my hometown.

    Just to warn you, . . . the city of Harrisonburg is tiny! It's about a two hour's drive south of Washington D.C. So if you fly into a major airport, say BWI, you then have to rent a car, take a greyhound, or find a friend to head south for another major trip.

    As for the campus, it's beautiful and geographically, quite large. It's set in the Blue Ridge mountains and receives more snow in the winter than most of Virginia. Most of the campus buildings look colonial-era, but there's also a fairly new and impressive technolgogy-building catering to computer science majors, nutritionists, and health related fields.This tech-building is about a 15 minute walk from the other side of campus, up a hill, over a highway bridge. So be prepared to walk and hike.

    Despite, the lack of city-appeal, the people at JMU are some of the friendliest I've met! Most people I met were genuine, hard working, and interested in having new experiences . . . most people actually WANTED to be there. I go to a large U. on the west coast now and it's amazing how many people just don't want to be here, or they're trying to transfer, or they're rushing through college like it's torture, or understandly, many can't afford to take a full load and so they take one course per term and work the rest of the time . . . I never encountered that attitude at JMU. Most JMU students are full-time, living on or very close to campus, and they're relatively young (18 to mid-20s) . . . it definitely felt like the "college-experience." It's also not a competitive atmosphere, but, like I said, most students are hard working and cooperative. Mainly I met people via the dorm. My roommate was from the D.C. area and very cosmopolitan. She reminded me of city-types from Seattle and Portland where I'm from. I also met people from these rural towns who grew up on farms, some with really, really thick southern accents . . . accents I heard for the first time in the U.S. after living in this country for more than two decades. Lots of discoveries;)

    Since the university is set in such a rural and mountainous area, life really revolves around campus. There's a ton of clubs!!! The second semester I joined the Tae Kwon Do club and met a whole network of cool people. My good friend joined the history club and they took road trips to famous sites, like Thomas Jefferson's home: Monticello, and Civil War battlefields. But there's definitely no pressure to join a club. Events seem to happen every moment . . . film festivals, break dancing shows, visiting lecturers, football games, lacrosse games, and acapella . . . the musical groups were quite good! I go to a university on the west coast now, and we don't have any type of strong acapella groups. So if you have a chance, catch an acapella concert. I also swam a lot at the rec center . . . which looks like a glass mansion, complete with a climbing wall and indoor track. If you're into exercise, you can work-out till 10 or 11pm there. The on-campus food is also a plus! From what I recall, there's like 9 restaurants on university property. One of the restaurants is very upscale serving pasta, steak, all that jazz. The other restaurants are more cafeteria-style with salad bars and buffet choices. There's a basement coffee-shop too, "Taylor Down Under" . . . I studied there all the time . . . it has pool tables in the back, funky music, and bizarre wall-art . . . way cooler than Starbucks! Oh yeah, there's a movie theatre on campus too!

    As for the dorms, . . . unforgettable. I lived in "Shorts" hall. This is a prime location . . . close to most classes, close to the cafeteria, close to the library. It's the perfect location! Each hall has a resident advisor (this is true for most dorms at any university, but I'll talk anyway) . . . I lived in a theme dorm (Substance Free . . . so basically we signed a contract claiming we wouldn't drink, smoke, etc . . . haha, but I broke the rules a few times). Anyhow, there's also the "recreation dorm," the "performing arts" dorm, you can live in a dorm without a theme as well. Rooms are small and you have a roommate, usually. But you can make all types of requests when applying . . . such as "I want to live with a quiet person who doesn't smoke and likes to live in a clean environment." My roommate and I got along great! We were both fairly quiet and mostly we divided up personal time, . . . so when she was at class, I'd relax in the room and maybe fiddle on the net. If you have a roommate issue, you can transfer to a different room, or dorm even, so no worries.

    Beyond the college, there's some off-campus restaurants, bars, and of course, a Wal-mart. Mostly, the area is rural. BUT, the setting is perfect for nature lovers. I went on a few dorm-sponsored hikes in the blue ridge . . . the seasons are very distinguishable . . . beautiful fall foliage, cold(!) snowy winters, cherry blossom spring, and humid/hot summer. The college is situated along Interstate 81, so it's easy to take road trips . . .if you're interested in U.S. history, particularly the American Revolution, the Civil War, etc., this state is a must-see. I recommend road trips to Jamestown, Williamsburg, Charlotesville, D.C. . . . these cities are within a two-hours car drive. The students are mostly from Virginia and the Northeast- lots of New Jersey and New York kids, so you can visit friends in major cities during Thanksgiving vaca, spring vaca, or three-day weekends. Over spring break, a group of us dorm kids rented a van and drove south, we spent an eventful, drunken week in Fort Lauderdale Florida . . . and checked out Disneyworld and Miami. Lots of good travel destinations on the east coast! Anyhow, I hope this helps, and best of luck on your exchange:)

  • 1 decade ago

    I can't decide for you but it sounds like you need more information about each school. Go to their websites and compare their location (city/small town), number of students, student life, class size, type of course offered, etc and pick the one that you think is most suited to you. The larger the university, the more variety of courses and activities are offered but may not have the exact one you want to do.

    Find out where other students at your current university are picking to spend a sememster abroad.

    As far as what courses to take, you should know what courses you must take to satisfy the graduation requirement and then find out which university offers the courses you need to take. Good luck.

  • 1 decade ago

    I went to school there and you'd be crazy not to pick JMU. The business school is awesome, there's plenty to do, and it's got a great sense of community. Best 4 years of my life, wish I could go back forever.

    Source(s): 4-years in Harrisonburg.
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