Marthé Rossouw at Montana State University, USA

Marthé Rossouw

BCom International Business

Semester Exchange in the Second Semester, 2023 at Montana State University




The entire semester leading up to departure was extremely stressful. I had to manage incredible amounts of admin, paired with a pretty hectic school schedule. The admin included applying to Montana State University as well as getting my US Visa.  

Some tips: When applying for a US university which requires language proficiency tests, try asking Professor Erasmus for a written letter stating that BCom International Business students study in English. My host university waivered the requirement since I provided such a letter, but this would of course depend on the university.  

Make sure to start as soon as possible with any required health documents. I needed an MMR top-up vaccine, but South Africa experienced a national shortage, and I almost didn’t have it in time. The delay kept me from being able to sign up for classes at MSU, resulting in most classes being full. The lecturers love having international students, though, so try to email them directly and ask to be added in class – even if the system shows that the class is full. Also, don’t be afraid to change class upon arrival on campus! Many students change classes quickly and spots open up again. 

During the Visa appointment I was surprised to see the power provided by the DS-2019 document (sent to me by the partner university upon acceptance). This official document made the entire visa experience surprisingly easy. 


Experience at the Host University:


Montana is known as Big Sky Country, the wild, wild west and the last best place on earth. After living in Bozeman, MT, for four months I can happily say: “Guilty as charged!”. 


Marthé skiing outside of Bozeman, Montana, with friends. 


Montana State University is an amazing school, and I am so honoured to have had the opportunity to study there. The campus is home to about 17 000 students, which is half the amount of Stellenbosch University. With fewer students, the pace on campus was much slower and more peaceful compared to Stellenbosch. As a state university, MSU mostly has Montanans and local students. I really enjoyed the change in pace and the small-town feeling. 

I made a point of choosing business classes I enjoy and that I do not struggle too much with. My classes were thus not very stressful, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about business from the American perspective. Be prepared, however, to receive much more homework and continuous assessment than at the Stellenbosch business departments! I found it to be a positive experience, since you must only do the homework provided and attend class regularly, but then you never have to stress about future tests or homework. The Jake Jabs School of Business is great and the lecturers generally have years of experience, with amazing resources and contacts. 

MSU have lots to offer students. The International Office hosted many wonderful activities such as pumpkin carving, swimming at Bozeman beach, a trip to Yellowstone National Park and so much more! My friends and I made sure to grab these opportunities and had the best time. MSU also have huge football games every second Saturday (it’s called Caturdays!), swing-dancing events in the Ballrooms, food festivals in the dining halls and you definitely don’t want to miss any of it! The City of Bozeman also hosts events such as the Christmas Stroll downtown, the Homecoming parade and the Gallatin Valley Rodeo. Bozeman are obviously also known for the most majestic mountains and there are endless hiking trails to choose from. It’s important to understand that most MSU students love the outdoors and are thus known to host camping trips, skiing and big Friday-night bonfires. If you love nature and are looking for an invitation to experience small-town America: this is absolutely it! 


Watching the Bobcats play football on Caturdays.


The travel bursaries and waivers received from Stellenbosch University helped me to live in Bozeman, which is known to be relatively expensive. Since Montana is huge and exchange students usually do not own cars, we often only went on trips in Montana itself which cost a lot less than traveling through different states.  I would definitely recommend working on campus during the semester. The university encourages it (Hire a Bobcat!) and our visa allow for work on campus, but not off campus. My class schedule also easily allowed it and it was good being paid in dollars. Many of the other exchange students worked with me and we had a lot of fun. 


Return to Stellenbosch:


Returning to Stellenbosch University was a massive adjustment and I absolutely experienced some reverse culture shock. The town and university are incredibly busy – especially after being used to the peace in Big Sky Country! It is also difficult if some of your friends have graduated, moved into different dorms or simply don’t understand how much you’ve learned and seen.  

However, I am thankful that I decided to go on exchange in my third year, because the previous semesters were so focused on the adventure that I need some time to decide what to do in future and to get some new dreams. I have also seen that students in the US have years of work-experience and LinkedIn profiles, which is something most students at Stellenbosch do not focus on much during undergraduate studies.  

I am so thankful for the opportunity and amazing experience. Much appreciation to Professor Erasmus, the SU International Office, Stacey Neve at MSU, my lecturers at MSU and the wonderful, life-long friends I made in Montana, the last best place.