Patrick Roy Finds His Place at Miami...and Beyond

Miami students enjoy a variety of study abroad options, but one of the best ways to become immersed in the culture of another country is to participate in a traditional exchange program. You exchange places with a student from another country, who will come to Miami when you go abroad.

Miami has been a member of the ISEP exchange program since 1983. Through this program, Miami students can access college campuses in over 50 countries worldwide. It is a popular option for those looking to use their Miami scholarships and take classes abroad like a local student. (And best of all, we can help you find the perfect program.)

But what is it like for the international exchange student who takes classes at Miami? We caught up with senior Patrick Roy shortly before he was due to return to Europe.

From Dortmund to Oxford (and then to a different Oxford)

Map showing location of Dortmund in GermanyTwenty-year-old Patrick Roy, a native of Bonn, Germany, spent the Spring 2021 semester studying as an exchange student at Miami. In September he will graduate from his home university, Technische Universität Dortmund (TU Dortmund University) with a degree in mathematics.

That's pretty impressive, but Roy is just getting started. Back home, he worked as a research assistant and teaching assistant before the pandemic brought things to a halt. He earned his first degree (in computer science) last year at age 19. This October, he will enter England's renowned University of Oxford to study for a one year combined master's in mathematics and foundations of theoretical computer science. His eventual goal is to work in space travel, with SpaceX or NASA.

Finding a Place at Miami

Students often cite the desire to move out of their "comfort zones" when they consider study abroad. It was no different for Roy.

"Finding out what I want to do is one of the main reasons I wanted to go abroad," he said. "I wanted to engage more with others so I decided to make the effort to travel, do new things, and meet people."

Institutions that participate in the ISEP program direct students to make a list of 10 preferred universities and then wait for placement. Roy had done his homework, and Miami's high ranking for undergraduate education made it a top contender. But it was the beautiful campus that sealed the deal.

Roy's home university, TU Dortmund, is in the middle of one of the largest urban areas in Europe. "In this program, I was looking for something else: the quintessential American college town, with a lot of green space on campus," he said. "I saw photos of Miami and I just loved it."

"Coming to Miami was like finding myself as a person," said Roy. But it almost didn't happen at all.

He originally planned to study abroad during the fall semester, but uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic caused Miami to defer his admission to spring. Even then, a few days' difference in his travel plans might have resulted in more disappointment. "It involved a lot of luck," he said. "The week after I got my visa, the embassy in Germany shut down. As I left Germany, there was talk of a stay-at-home order. And if I had arrived even two days later in the U.S., I would not have been allowed entry."

Patrick and a masked friend

Patrick (at left) and a friend at the Rec Center.

At Miami, Roy has enjoyed the friendly community in his residence hall, where he could compete in Ultimate Frisbee or play a game of chess with a friend. He also appreciated easy access to Western Commons Dining Hall, and became fond of breakfasts at Pulley Diner.

In fact, any discussion of study abroad would be incomplete without a study of local cuisine. "I set a goal to try all the restaurants uptown, one per week with a friend," he said. "I really ended up liking American fast food, particularly wings and burgers."

Most of Miami's student clubs still met online during spring semester, which put somewhat of a damper on student life. However, since he played chess back home, he joined Miami's chess club. He also enjoyed bouldering and going to the Rec Center to work out. He even got vaccinated against COVID, causing him to joke that it may be his claim to fame when he gets home.

Much of his daily life in Ohio was similar to life in Germany, but he noted some differences in the approach to academics. American universities generally seem to offer more majors; for instance, a creative writing major would be uncommon in Germany. He liked the idea of liberal education, of taking courses outside his major to supplement math and computer science foundational courses. He also found professors approachable, willing to chat before class and learning their students' first names.

Roy was impressed by the overall friendliness and openness of the people he met during his semester. "Miami has an inclusive international community that made me feel at home," he said.

Playing chess at the residence hall

With residence hall friends

Residence hall friends

With a friend at the 'Heart in Hand' sculpture near the CPA

Moving On

Shaking hands with a friendly wolf

Meeting a new friend in Colorado

Roy's only regret was that his time at Miami was so short. "If you become an exchange student, spend the whole year; I gave the same advice to students back home in Germany. I finally feel part of the community and now it's time to leave," he said.

And what comes next? His immediate plans included a visit to a wolf wildlife center in Colorado with a friend, then off to join some other Miami friends for a trip to Florida to visit the Kennedy Space Center.

After his stint at the University of Oxford, Roy plans to get his PhD in math, which may bring him back to the U.S. "I may apply to American universities again because I liked it so much. An Oxford degree will be competitive for universities such as Stanford, MIT, or Harvard," he said.

You just might encounter a few other Miamians there, Patrick. Auf Wiedersehen until we meet again!