Studying abroad for half a year made me deepen the thoughts about my future career and widen my academic interest. In this report, I will share my experience at the School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) as an exchange student from the following aspects.
Quarter system at UCSD was pretty fast paced and only lasted ten weeks. Also, one class at UCSD only has 80 minutes while at U-Tokyo it has 105, which is a big relief for me because 80 minutes perfectly matches my mind concentration time. However, though the class time is somehow concentrated, the contents certainly are not. Assigned readings for each class is challenging and also quite a lot. If you can’t finish those readings before you show up at the class, you will definitely get lost during the class. Grade evaluation methods are quite diverse: there are classes that are graded on assignments and tests throughout the quarter, and there are also classes that are based on a group project or a presentation and a final paper. One thing in common is that the finals are pretty intense and stressful, usually closed book & closed notes.
Regarding meals, San Diego is famous for Mexican food, so Tacos, Britos and Wraps are easy to find there. They have all kinds of food you can think of, but the taste is not that good, and the price is not that low. But overall, In-N-Out is my favorite place for cheeseburgers and chips. The transportation system in Lyon is not so convenient compared to Tokyo. There is no metro/subway in California, transportation pretty much means bus or car.
At GPS, a global policy graduate school, people from all over the world gather here to learn knowledge. Try as much as possible to hang out with people with different cultural backgrounds, and that is definitely beneficial to you.
My biggest recommendation would be to just go with the flow as much as possible. Some of the quirks of being abroad can get frustrating at times, but you just have to accept them for what they are and learn to appreciate the differences. Some of the things that irritated me the most are now things that I look back on and miss.