OUTLINE: Mariana is a Nova SBE undergraduate student who decided to have her international experience in Los Angeles. In this interview she talks about her experience abroad and what made her fall in love with the city! #Uduni #Uduni Erasmus Series #university southern california
Related: Erasmus experiences in South Korea, Italy, and France!
First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi! I’m Mariana and I am a third-year management student at Nova School of Business and Economics. I had the opportunity of studying for one semester at University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, CA. I have always wanted to study in the United States, so doing this exchange semester allowed me to experience the life of a typical American college student.
What are the most positive things you have experienced there? And the most negative ones?
I would say that the people I met and all the places I got to visit while I was there were by far the most positive things I have experienced. Also, living with five girls in an apartment was so much fun! When it comes to the negative ones… Comparing with the European cities, Los Angeles is very different. You don’t have as much ease when it comes to public transportation and it is really hard to move around without a car. Thank god we had Uber there! Also, I was really surprised by the number of homeless people… It is really sad if you think about all the rich people that live in LA.
Related: Studying at Católica-Lisbon SBE, ISEG, Técnico (IST) and Nova SBE!
How has your academic experience been there? What surprised you the most?
Well, studying at USC was a completely different experience from the European one, but that’s why I decided to apply for this program. It was exactly as you see in the movies… The American football, the insane fraternity parties and the red cups, the big campus, the perfect blonde girls from the sororities, etc. It is surreal! The thing I loved the most about Trojans (the name we call people who joined USC) was their enthusiasm and passion about college. It is amazing to feel the energy of everyone – they really love USC and they are really proud of it. For them, to experience these 4 years to the fullest is a big thing, while in Portugal college isn’t that exciting.
They go to school by bike or skate everyday with USC merchandise (btw, the store has 4 floors!!) and you can even find mothers with a sweater saying “Trojan Mom”. Part of this enthusiasm, comes from American football… Well, they haven’t convinced me with it. The real football, or the way they say, soccer, is so much better. Before each game, you have the tailgate: USC fans – current students, alumni, parents, grandparents – bring their own tents, beverages and food to grill and socialize with each other. This is how they warm up for the game! When it comes to the education itself, I found their method much more practical, more “hands-on-approach”, which is something that I think it’s lacking in the undergraduate degree in Portugal. Classes are really practical and there is a lot of discussion, so participation counts. They don’t give as much importance as we do to midterms and exams, but you have a lot of work throughout the semester – essays, papers, group works, etc. I find this method much more effective, as you are always on top of the subjects and the students who work hard during the semester are always rewarded.
What about American people? Have you got along with them easily? Many cultural barriers?
My university is the most diverse in terms of passport holders, so I got to know people from all over the world, not only Americans, which was really rewarding. Well, I think Americans are quite different from Portuguese. They are much more confident in their own capabilities and look at things in a more practical way. Also, they aren’t afraid of asking or saying something wrong. That is something I found really positive and that we should incorporate into our culture. On the other hand, they are more individualistic and sometimes it is sad to face that “USA is the center of the world” mindset. It was really rare to find someone who knew that Portugal is not a part of Spain.
Did you enjoy your social life here in Los Angeles? Which kind of activities did you like to do in your spare time?
Of course yes! I did the usual sightseeing activities along the semester with my friends – Hollywood, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Griffith Observatory, Disney, etc. – and all the college activities – the tailgates, football games, fraternity parties, house parties, etc. We also got to go to the Conan O’Brien show and tried the famous In-n-Out burgers. Also, I got to visit nearby cities during the weekends, as San Diego and San Francisco. During the Thanksgiving break, I got to go to the East Coast and visited Boston, New York and Washington D.C.
Would you like to come back? What do you miss the most?
I will come back for sure! It was the most amazing experience ever and I will never forget it. I miss the Californian lifestyle, the palm trees, the warm weather and the sunsets… Venice sunsets are pure magic!
What advice would you give to someone thinking about going to study in Los Angeles?
Enjoy every moment of it! Six months go by so fast!
Would you like to share your testimonial as well? If yes, please send it to [email protected], either in Portuguese or English!
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