Exchange Report 2015 Spring University of Florida

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1 Exchange Report 2015 Spring University of Florida

2 Part 1: Monthly Activity Log January I arrived Gainesville by taking a 2-stop connect flight on 4 Jan. That was the earliest date that I could move in the dorm. After I had arrived UF, I went to the Weaver Hall for dorm move in procedures. There were 2 orientation sessions on 5 Jan, one for all exchange students and one for business exchange students. I learnt more about UF and made some friends in these two sessions. The lectures started on 6 Jan. The first two weeks were add drop period and I could still make changes in my course registration. I travelled to Orlando for two of the weekends to visit Universal and Disney World. I went to Universal with some of my exchange friends. The Disney trip was organized by Navigator, a group which serves exchange students. Both of the trips were great fun. February In Feb I mostly worked on my lectures, assignment and mid-terms. I enjoyed the campus life in UF a lot because exploring places in the UF campus is fun. The campus is large and beautiful, there are many places which worth going, like the Alice Lake. During Chinese New Year, I went to some celebrating events organized by the Chinese Students Society. I also knew some Chinese students who study in UF there. Since the Spring break starts in late Feb, I planned my spring break trip with my exchange friends before that. March The spring break started on 28 Feb and ended on 8 March. I went to a trip to Miami and took the cruise to Bahamas. We took Greyhound bus to Miami and lived in hostel there. Miami is a perfect place for travelers. The beach and the sunshine are incredible. It was also the first cruise experience for me. It was exciting to meet so many people and had a lot of fine cuisine on cruise. The beaches in Bahamas are the most beautiful beaches that I have ever seen. I was so glad that I had a chance to visit them. I highly recommend travelling to Bahamas as that trip has been my most enjoyable experience ever. April I enjoyed some nights out for dinner and bowling with friends in UF. There were many deadlines for assignment and paper in April. The final exams were also in late April. Therefore I had to fight for all these deadlines and exams. Before the end of semester, there was a farewell prom organized in Weaver Hall. It was a fun night with Disney theme. Surely a good time to say goodbye. May The semester ended on 1 May, the last date to move out Weaver was 2 May. I moved out on 1 st, and took Greyhound to Orlando. My parents came to Orlando to join me for a two-week trip.

3 We went to outlets for crazy shopping. I also took them to Universal and Disney world. After a week in Orlando, we went to New York. We were busy going to every tourist spot in New York including Central Park, natural museum, art museum, times square, Empire Building, 911 Memorial, Statue of Liberty and more. It was a tiring yet fruitful trip.

4 Part 2: General Exchange Information 1) Visa Procedures UF would send you a package for Visa application and school administration stuff. Going to US for exchange would need a J-1 visa which allows you to enter US 30 days before the semester starts and stay in US for 30 days after the semester ends. You should complete the application form online and pay the corresponding fee as soon as possible. Then make an appointment to do the interview in US Embassy. My advice is to start early as the process is rather tedious. Check out this website for detailed steps: 2) Orientation Activities There are two mandatory orientations, one for all exchange students and one for business exchange students. The one for all exchange students is like an information session for you to know more about UF, exchange program and visa stuff. The business one is more fun because they include many games and interactions between exchange students. You can make many friends there. Be sure to arrive at Gainesville before the Orientation Day. 3) International Services & Activities The UF International Center is located in the Hub (center of the campus). Look for them for any visa, international student affairs. There is a student association called NaviGator, you will be paired up with a local UF student. They also organize a few trips and events in one semester. Be sure to sign up fast for these activities as spots usually go fast. 4) Accommodations You can choose to live on-campus or off-campus. I live in Weaver Hall just like many exchange students do. If you want to live in Weaver, you have to submit the accommodation form fast because spaces are limited. There are double and single rooms. If you live in double room, you would have a Florida local roommate. There are many supplies that you would need including bed sheets, pillow, lamp, hangers and cooking utensils that you can get from the store room in Weaver. You may consider move in earlier so you can go get all your needed supplies. When you are moving out, you can put anything that can be reused to the store room so you don t have to bring back too many things. 5) Courses Registration You should submit the online course wish-list as soon as possible. Jason, a gentleman from the business school is responsible for registering courses for us. Usually after you submit the form, he will send you an telling you his suggestion towards your course plan. For economics courses, consent from the department is required for registration. So you could expect the registration of economics courses take longer time. Also, many courses would have limited

5 spaces and occupied by their own students. The only way to work out is to keep communicating with Jason and he is very nice and helpful. I would suggest you to take 4 courses, so to enjoy the exchange life and not to be too stressful on academic work. Below are the 4 courses (13 credits) that I took: ECO3101 Intermediate Microeconomics (4 credits) FIN4243 Debt and Money Markets (4 credits) BUL4443 Ethics in Global Business (2 credits) ARC1720 Survey of Architectural History (3 credits) It s an online course 6) Teaching & Assessment Methods The assessment methods in UF are quite similar with those in UST. There would be assignment, mid-term and final exams in economics and finance courses. For the business ethics course that I took, the work load is quite heavy. I had to read philosophical readings every week and do a short quiz in every lecture. Then there would be group discussions and class discussions. Two papers had to be submitted throughout the course. All of the above would contribute to my final grade. There are some online courses available in UF. I took ARC1720 because it could be transferred as a similar course (HUMA2680) in UST which could make up my Humanities minor. The advantage of an online course is that you can control your time to learn and do assessment. The lecture videos are uploaded on the course website. There are also some quizzes and mini assignments that you need to observe their deadlines carefully. A final assignment which I consider very interesting (to design a project for a national park) has to be submitted at the end of semester. I enjoyed studying this course a lot. For lectures, you can expect there would be more discussions and interactions between professors and students. Class discussions and questions raised by students are highly encouraged by the professors. UF students are also very eager to bring up any concerns, problems, and discussions. This would be the major difference between classes in UF and UST. 7) Sports & Recreation Facilities If you are a sports person, you would definitely love UF. There are several gym centers which are huge and well facilitated. I was not a gym person in Hong Kong but I also went to the gym once a week while I was in UF. The gym is just very attractive. There are also huge stadiums and swimming pool. If you are going to UF in Spring, you will have many chances to watch the basketball and baseball matches. I highly recommend you to watch the basketball match because you can feel the united atmosphere of UF there. For recreation, most of us go to the Reitz Union. It is a student facility near Weaver Hall. The Gator night is held there every Friday night. There will be free movie shows, games, food and drinks. I enjoyed many fruitful Friday nights there.

6 8) Cost/Expenses You can expect the living expenses in US are higher than that in Hong Kong. An average meal on campus costs USD6+, while a meal in a restaurant costs USD10+. Gainesville has a lower living cost and tax rate when compared with other cities in US. If you are going to travel outside Florida, you can expect even higher price levels. Below are costs excluding traveling outside of Gainesville Flight USD 2500 Accommodation (Weaver Hall) 2700 Food (Meal plan) 1900 Insurance 650 Entertainment 400 Visa 380 Total USD ) Social Clubs & Networking Opportunities NaviGator matches exchange students up with local students. There was a welcoming event organized by them so you get to meet other exchange students as well as their buddies. That could be a starting point for your networking in UF. There was a showcase of different student societies in the Reitz Union at one evening in Jan. Jason will let you know and invite you to be there and meet student representatives from different societies. Feel free to join any of them which interest you. 10) Health & Safety Studying in UF and living in Gainesville is safe overall. There is a service by the police which can take you back to dorm at night for free. Don t walk alone at late night. UF requires all students to buy the student health insurance. Look at the coverage and corresponding medical centers responsible in details as medical fees in US can be very expensive. Make good use of the insurance in case you are sick. 11) Food Restaurants on campus are mainly fast food. You can buy a meal plan, they have wide variety of meal plans like 5 days, 7 days, 14 meals in a week, etc. I bought a 7-day meal plan which allowed me to have unlimited meals in two dining halls, and limited meals in some of the restaurants around the campus. If you are living in Weaver, there is a kitchen on every floor so you can cook your own meals. Food can be bought in Publix, a supermarket which can be reached by bus.

7 12) Transportation The bus travelling around Gainesville is free for UF students who present student card. The waiting time may be a bit long and the travelling time can be long too. Make some friends who drive can save you some time in travelling on bus. For travelling to other cities like Orlando and Miami, we usually took the Greyhound bus. You can book the tickets online. 13) Climate Jan and Feb will be like or a bit cooler than Hong Kong s winter. One thick coat would be enough. The weather starts to get hot in March and really hot in April. Bring some winter clothes and more summer clothes is my suggestion. Florida can be very sunny so make sure you put on sunscreen before going out. It can also be quite dry in winter. 14) Communication The mobile data plans in US are quite expensive. I did not get a mobile plan until late April because I needed it for travel after the semester. You can consider joining a family data plan with other friends so you can get a more affordable price. Wifi is available within the campus. Most people in US use Whatsapp and Facebook just like what we do. 15) Cautionary measures Overall Gainesville is a safe place, but you should avoid staying out late alone. When you go travel, make sure you take good care of your personal belongings especially your passports, cash, and phone. Make copies of your identity documents and put in safe place. Mark down emergency contacts.

8 Part 3: Items to Bring Identity documents (HKID, passport, DS2019) Cash and credit cards Electrical items: Laptop Mobile phone Chargers Adapter Extension units Personal items: Clothes (winter+summer, one thick jacket) Shoes Medicine Bedsheets (if you don t mind using the used ones, you can get from store room) Umbrella Lotion Sunscreen

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