14 August 2014

A Taste of America, Summer Study Abroad

How the time flies. Just over six weeks ago, I had just finished my Sydney Uni exams and jumped onto a plane bound for LA. It was there that I was to spend six weeks studying and travelling. Now that I am back in Sydney, I’m launching straight back into semester (my final semester too!) with an abundance of new friendships, experiences and knowledge acquired from studying at UCLA.

So what were some of the key things that I took away from it? Well, one thing was the cultural differences and differences in slang between the American and Australian way of conversing. Even though I was aware of this to a small extent beforehand, living there and interacting with American classmates and locals really made these differences more prevalent, so discovering these differences was interesting.

I also really enjoyed living on campus. Not only did it mean not having to commute to class, but UCLA really was a beautiful campus and a great university, proud of its athletes and its reputation (mention USC to any UCLA student and they’d tell you all about the great rivalry between the two universities). Although I didn’t get a chance to participate in any of the sporting activities myself, I really did enjoy my classes. Perhaps one of the reasons why was because I was studying something totally different to my usual field of Marketing and International Business. In fact, I decided I would try my hand at two subjects from the Arts faculty: Public Art in LA (a Mexican studies class) and Medical Ethics (a Philosophy class). Both were really great in giving me a better understanding of America’s history and its subsequent contemporary values and beliefs. For instance, each week our Public Art class went to a different mural or public artwork to observe and analyse the artistic techniques and historical significance of the work. By contrast, the Medical Ethics class involved a lot of discussion and debate about what was morally right or wrong about taboo subjects such as euthanasia, abortion, enhancement and so forth. Studying each of these subjects gave me great insight into different ways of writing, reading, arguing, problem solving, etc. all of which were very different to the styles that I had grown accustomed to in my Business degree. I think this was what I really valued about this experience overall.

Generally speaking therefore, I am glad that I’ve undertaken the program because it’s given me greater perspective into my strengths, interests, and ambitions of perhaps working or studying (a postgrad course) in America one day. It’s certainly been another stepping stone for me in understanding where I ‘fit in’ in the global market.  Only time will tell when the next time will be when I return to America with a new and improved purpose.

A few of the other participants, also from Sydney Uni, who I developed close friendships with.

The campus was really well-maintained. The only downside was that it was a huge campus, meaning that most of us had hilarious stories of getting lost and walking into class late during our first week.
Christine Ma
Current student at the University of Sydney Business School

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