Cedar Falls offers students a tight-knit community and a safe place to study. The tricky part is finding funding for it.

Troy Trafton is a sophomore student at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) in the city of Cedar Falls. He is studying secondary history education with an endorsement in all social sciences.

Later, he is going to try to get a job as a high school history teacher.

“Unfortunately, the teachers in the United States are kinda known to be underpaid for their work”, Trafton says.

Trafton doesn’t feel completely sure that he is going to get a job in his field. Despite the comparatively low salary, teaching is a highly competitive field in the US. In addition, even today it might be difficult to find a teaching job with piercings or tattoos.


University students in the USA usually take 4-6 classes each semester. In this semester, Trafton has five classes, and each of them has roughly 3-4 exams.

“Recently more and more classes are using online quizzes to cover the reading, and that does tend to pile up sometimes because there are usually a lot of constraints regarding them, like time limits”, Trafton says.


One of the most difficult things about studying in the United States is finding funding for it. One year at the university can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Trafton is funding most of his tuitions through government student loans.

“When I finally pay them off, it will end up being really expensive due to interest”, he says.

Generally speaking, however, Trafton considers students’ economic situation in the United States quite decent.

“The great thing about the U.S. education system is the huge availability of options for someone to pursue, and that students can get nearly anywhere in life as long as they put in the work for it”, Trafton says.

Of course, it is always easier for the students who come from rich families.


Most of the students of the UNI live in dorms or apartments in the campus area. This makes the university its own, tight community.

That has its own pros and cons. It is really easy to meet people and get involved on the campus.

“UNI has a great student body that is really friendly and makes it great to be there. UNI campus is also a really liberal and progressive”, Trafton describes.

Although Trafton likes living there, he sometimes feels like he is being watched or babysat. Strict rules regulate life on the campus, and for example smoking is forbidden in the entire area.


The UNI offers lots and lots of activities for its over 12,000 students. There are more than 250 organizations in the UNI and varsity teams in 15 different sports. Trafton himself plays saxophone in a UNI marching band, and he is a member of the Northern Iowa Democrats. In his spare time he mostly hangs out with his friends.

“I also like to play video games and discuss them with my nerdier friends because debating pointless things like that is fun for me”, Trafton says.

In addition, Trafton earns pocket money working in one of the dining centers on the campus.


Trafton has lived his whole life in Iowa. He thinks that, overall, the state is a bit boring as a place to live.

“Its really rural, but the people are really nice. And occasionally the weather is nice”, Trafton says.