skip to content

Living in Milwaukee

Metropolitan Milwaukee is a thriving community of 1,200,000 people, the largest city in Wisconsin. It is the seventeenth-largest city in the United States and is ethnically diverse with an abundance of parks, museums, art galleries, music, major league sports, and fine restaurants. Educational and cultural institutions or activities include a nationally known zooSummerfest (a music festival, attracting well known entertainers), Rainbow Summer and other ethnic festivals held in the summer, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and the Performing Arts Center which houses the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Florentine Opera, and the Milwaukee Ballet. There is a wide variety of ethnic restaurants all over the city.

Wisconsin weather has four distinct seasons, but the weather can also exhibit extreme variations in any of the four seasons. Summers are generally warm and humid with temperatures in the 80's and plenty of sun in June, July and August. Early fall has warm days and cool nights, while late fall can be cold and gray with rain. Winter begins in December, which can be mild or have quite a lot of snow. January and February are the coldest months and temperatures may be as low as -20°F! Spring is sometimes slow to come and there can be snow in March and (more rare) April. By May the weather is nicer and the leaves are turning green.

We invite you to explore other links to Milwaukee and Wisconsin to learn about where you will be living. Here are a couple to get you started:

 On Milwaukee and Study Wisconsin


Adjusting to Life in the United States

One of the joys of traveling abroad is the opportunity to discover new cultures. Depending on your home country, U.S. culture may be drastically different from, or very similar to, the culture you are accustomed to. The United States is commonly referred to as a "melting pot" because it is a mixture of many different cultures from around the world.

U.S. culture tends to be informal. Someone that you have just met may speak to you as if they were speaking to a friend they have known for years. Americans typically do not need to "warm up" to somebody before having a casual conversation. Social protocol in the United States is also informal. In comparison to other cultures, Americans have relatively few rules regarding how to interact with others. The social hierarchy that exists in many countries is less prominent in American culture. While U.S. culture is informal, privacy is still important. Private matters are often avoided in casual conversation.

American society is individualistic. While Americans are friendly and approachable, Americans operate from an individually-based, rather than community-based, philosophy.

Americans use verbal and direct communication methods. Intuition and hints are rarely used when communicating with Americans. It is socially acceptable to be expressive and direct in the U.S. The intuitive and non-verbal communication used in some cultures may not work in the United States.

The faculty and staff at American universities are approachable. Feel free to chat with your professors before or after class. Professors also have office hours during which students can go to their office to discuss the information presented in class. A nice characteristic of American universities is that the social barrier between faculty and students is minimal.

How to Have a Great Exchange

Adjusting to a new culture, environment, and university can be quite a challenge for many students. There are some things you can do to ease your adjustment to UWM and Milwaukee.

Create a Facebook group
In previous years exchange students have created a facebook page for their group. A facebook group could be a great way to connect with other exchange students before and after arriving. If you'd like to create a facebook group for your incoming class of exchange students, email the URL of the group to your exchange coordinator, who will then send the URL to all exchange students.

Get involved at UWM
We have hundreds of student clubs, organizations, special events, and sports teams that will allow you to meet UWM students. Every exchange student should join at least one club while on exchange. The Center for Volunteerism and Student Leadership has numerous ways to get involved in the greater Milwaukee community.

Take advantage of UWM's vast academic resources
Get to know your professors. You can visit professors during their office hours to talk about what is discussed in the classroom. UWM has a variety of academic clubs focusing on different subjects. UWM also has many academic and non-academic student support offices (Tutoring and Academic Resource Center, Student Accessibility Center, LGBTQ Center, Women's Resource Center, etc).

Stay in contact with your CIE exchange coordinators
Your exchange coordinators know the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and all of the resources available to students. Let your exchange coordinator know if you have any questions, concerns, or interests.