Daniel Cockroft – Hendrix College, USA

Written by Daniel Cockroft, BSc Cinematic Arts (Hons), ISEP Study Abroad 2022/23.

15 Nov 2023   4 min read

Daniel Cockroft – Hendrix College, USA

ISEP Study Abroad programme 2022/23

“A fantastic, surreal eye-opener of a year.”

Memories to share

I had a great routine at Hendrix, but at the end of the day, the most memorable moments happen when you deviate from that routine. My personal highlights were being able to travel to Nashville, Washington D.C. and Denver.

Apart from these amazing trips, I loved making use of Hendrix College's facilities, all of which students have unlimited access to. There was the WAC (Wellness and Athletics Center), the Aquatics Center, Music Rooms and the numerous pool tables on offer. Living on-campus right next to all these amenities meant that life was never boring.

Experiencing new culture

Moving to the United States was quite surreal at first. We've all seen our fair share of American TV, but the main thing I noticed was that people, across the board, were just a lot less reserved than they are in Northern Ireland. People were very friendly and chatty, which was lovely.

As far as the area went, being in central Arkansas, it was obviously very hot. Coming from Derry, it was immensely refreshing to just be able to walk around in a T-shirt for months. Summer dragged on until November, and I was luckily able to avoid the big freeze by jetting off home for Christmas.

The surrounding town of Conway was also great. It felt a lot more desert-like than anywhere I'd ever been, so that was cool. It has a lot of really good shops, restaurants and bars.

Hendrix was massively different from Ulster! While university students in the UK are expected to live more independently, at Hendrix nearly everyone lived in on campus housing. Plus, most people had meal plans for the on-campus cafeteria (which was obviously amazing). The result was a sense of community unlike what you'd find in the UK - but I did miss cooking for myself.

Challenges and how to tackle them

The main challenge I encountered at Hendrix was the workload. Coming from a home institution course which only has three classes a week, at Hendrix, we were often expected to attend four a day - five days a week. I know that coming from some other courses, this wouldn't have been such a leap, but for me, it was a huge step up!

We had a lot more regular, smaller assignments that felt like the homework I would have received during my A-Levels or GCSE - on top of the main, large pieces of coursework I'm used to at Ulster.

However, you will get used to it if you persevere. I just tried to tackle each assignment as soon as I got it. Once you're in that flow, it's not as hard.

Making friends

While this seemed daunting going into my ISEP year, it turned out to be quite easy. I was lucky enough to have a roommate also from Northern Ireland, so it felt like I already knew someone going into Hendrix, even though we'd only met there.

Another massive help was the college's amazing International Ambassadors who went out of their way to make us feel at home, even organizing a trip to Nashville for us, which was incredible.

Finally, Hendrix plans orientation trips for all freshmen (first-year students)- and us internationals tagged along on those. While I'm still not sure why I picked canoeing, I met friends for life on that trip and it was vital to have the opportunity to mix with the local students.

Travelling while abroad

As I mentioned above, I got to travel to Nashville, DC and Denver as a part of my year in Arkansas. DC was a trip I planned myself over the Winter Break - I went with my girlfriend just before I travelled back for the start of second semester. It was amazing to see the Capitol, the White House (I didn't go inside) and national treasure Denny's. Denny's actually had robot servers, which was very cool and a little unsettling.

My trip to Denver was the only one which was actually college-affiliated. As a part of my Intermediate Photography course, myself and a group of six other students got to attend the national Society of Photographic Education Conference. We got to stay at the Sheraton Hotel for multiple nights, which was undoubtedly the fanciest hotel I've ever been to. Highly recommend it - if you can get in for free.


My main advice to students wanting to go abroad via ISEP is a long-tired adage, which is 'carpe diem'.

At Hendrix, they held a huge club fair at the start of the year. I signed up for about six clubs and ended up attending two of them. It's definitely a good idea to sign up to things while you can and figure it out later. The clubs at Hendrix were usually non-committal, so it was very non-pressure.

Personally, the main highlight for me was that I got to host my own radio show on KHDX, which is Hendrix's very own radio station! I got to play music every Friday for a loyal band of nine listeners, and I loved it. It was also a great opportunity to advertise my own music, which I was able to continue making abroad thanks to the college's music facilities.

My last piece of advice is not to despair if you don't get into your dream host institution! I actually found Hendrix through clearing, but I wouldn't have changed it for the world.