Exchange out to University of California (Irvine) By Li Wing Yee. Part 1 - Monthly Activity Log

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1 Exchange out to University of California (Irvine) By Li Wing Yee Part 1 - Monthly Activity Log In September, I spent a week in San Francisco and the Bay Area before start of school in Irvine. My travel-mates and I visited tourist attractions such as Golden Gate Bridge, the Palace of Fine Arts, Fishermans Wharf, China Town, and Union Square. We also went to Stanford University and University of California (Berkeley) to have a look. I arrived at campus in Irvine in late September, just before orientation week began. I attended useful briefings and campus tours, got to know new people, and signed up for students organizations activities. School commenced in October. Apart from classes, I joined free workshops held by dance teams on campus, and a hip-hop dance audition for a dance crew. My friends and I also explored around LA, visiting the Urban Light and Santa Monica. We drove to San Diego and chilled around for a couple of days. In late October, we dressed up in costumes and went to Hollywood Universal Studios for Halloween. As November approached, I continued to have Halloween fun, going to Knott s Berry Farm with Korean friends. We explored LA further and visited Huntington Library, Pepperdine University, Observatory, and Hollywood sign. I also held a birthday party at our house which was a lot of fun. The huge festival in November is Thanksgiving. I had an authentic Thanksgiving Dinner with a host family, lined up at Desert Hills Outlets at 3am for Black Friday Shopping, and went to Las Vegas and Grand Canyon with friends. December was the month for final exams. After the end of quarter, I went travelling in the east coast, exploring different cities such as New York, New Haven, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago, meeting up with friends studying or living in the US. My last destination before flying back to Hong Kong was LA, where I took a walk at Hollywood Walk of Fame, San Gabriel, and Six Flags. I also danced at a Hollywood dance studio. Then I went back to Hong Kong in early January.

2 Part 2 - General Exchange Information 1) Visa Procedures I received a package from UCI, followed the instructions and applied for Visa at Consulate General of the United States, Hong Kong and Macau. The whole process took around 1-2 months. 2) Orientation Activities UCI EAP Exchange Department opened a Facebook group and gathered all exchange-in students before our departure. All kinds of inquires including housing, course enrollment, and campus environment could be easily attended to. First week of school was Welcome Week for students to get to know new people and new environment. 3) International Services & Activities EAP Exchange Department s support was prompt and adequate, there were also Hong Kong Club and Taiwan Club where you could meet Hong Kong and Taiwan friends on campus. In California, there should be no worried of not having Asian friends, since a lot of Asians live there. 4) Accommodations I lived on campus, in a neighborhood called Arroyo Vista. My apartment was a double suite located inside a house. I had a Hong Kong roommate and a lot of housemates to hang out with. There were several more options on campus and also some options off campus. Although housing was expensive, support for on campus residents is adequate plus Irvine is one of the safest cities in America. Service provision can be pretty slow though. 5) Courses Registration Course registration was an easy process with support from EAP; however, more effort had to be done for credit transfer and course assessments.

3 6) Teaching & Assessment Methods Teaching and learning in the US were very different from those in Hong Kong. Academic environment in Irvine was much more interactive; Q&A was a big part of lectures and classes. Also, quarter ended fast than semester, with packed assessments and exams. Tests were less exam-oriented though, assessing students of their understanding of course materials. As for dance credit-bearing courses, they were more experiencial than HKUST dance credit-bearing courses, which were a lot more fun and great opportunity to gain real dance experience. 7) Sports & Recreation Facilities On campus, there were a dance center, a fitness center, and plenty of sports facilities such as basketball court within walking distance. 8) Cost/Expenses Insurance ~450 Visa ~1000 Housing ~2600 Air tickets ~1000 Travel expenses ~2900 Daily expenses ~1500 School supply expenses ~100 Total ~9550 9) Social Clubs & Networking Opportunities Plenty of student organizations welcomed everyone to join their activities. There were also a lot of opportunities to meet people living nearby, and people who studied the same course as me. Networking should not be a problem at all if you are wiling to go out and meet new people. People are extremely friendly in Southern California and hanging out culture is popular.

4 10) Health & Safety Irvine is one of the safest cities in the US. However, I recommend buying the UC insurance since medical expense in the US can be huge and the US insurance plans have larger coverage amount, just in case anything happens. 11) Food American, Mexican, Asian, and European food could be easily found. In fact, LA and around is famous for its good food. Eating out can be expensive though, so cooking is an option to save money. 12) Transportation UCI campus was pretty small; buildings were within walking distance, taking minutes of walk though. Fortunately, free shuttle bus service was provided around campus for us to go to school every day. However, getting around California wouldn t work without a car. Renting a car or making friends with drivers may be an option. 13) Climate Southern California had extremely nice climate, warm and sunny during my period of stay. Temperature difference was quite big between day and night time. Their winter felt similar to Hong Kong one except that Southern California was much less humid. 14) Communication I mainly communicated in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. 15) Cautionary measures I suggest not staying outside at night in California and other parts of the United States. A lot of areas can be very dangerous at night especially for Asians in a foreign country without a car.

5 Part 3 - Items to Bring and Contacts 1. Passport, Visa, identity and travel documents 2. Cash, credit cards, bank cards 3. A set of copies of the above documents in case you lose them 4. Phone, laptop 5. Electrical adaptors 6. Basic medicines and medicines you need 7. Small amount of daily necessities in case you are far away from supplies in the US 8. Clothes for all weathers and temperatures 9. Skin allergy therapies in case your skin cannot adapt to climate/ environment change

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