As part of my Bachelor's of Science, I decided to take an exchange semester in the US. I applied for it in November 2016, had a doubles interview in December 2016, and got both a scholarship from my university and a quarter at one of our partner universities - the University of California system.
In the UC system I was able to elect three campii which I would like to go to, and they'd decide which campus I would actually go to, and that ended up being the Santa Cruz campus. Santa Cruz is just south of San Francisco and has a reputation for being a surf capital.
On September 17th, 2017, I traveled to California. I spent a few days in San Francisco, moved to Santa Cruz on the 21st and started my quarter a week later on the 28th. I took three classes: Intro to Neuroscience, Intro to Shakespeare and Intro to Creative Writing.
Regarding my classes, I definitely had a great time with them. Neuroscience was absolutely fascinating and I had a really cool professor named David Feldheim. He kept the material in an easy-to-understand fashion and I definitely learned a lot about the human brain.
Shakespeare was not as great - I was expecting something a little more... in-depth, however, the professor - Abigail Heald - didn't really have that in mind, apparently. While I did get to read a lot of Shakespeare's work - which was the point of taking the class - I feel like I didn't enjoy it as much as I did when I read Shakespeare in high school. Frankly, I think that is due in part to the catastrophic organizational skills of both the professor and the TAs.
Finally, Creative Writing with Cathy Thomas was also an amazing class. I had lots and lots of fun writing and doing the exercises to get us to write about different things and in different styles. It was also a smaller class, so I made a few more friends than I did in either Neuroscience or Shakespeare.
I tried really hard to make a few friends while I was in Santa Cruz. In the end, I didn't make that many friendships that I think will last, but I did have lots of fun with the friends I did make. I went to the beach, I went hiking, I played frisbee, I rode passenger on a motorcycle for the first time, I played lots of chess, I dressed up for Halloween, I went to parties and I played videogames. It was definitely a lot of fun.
I also really wanted to learn to surf while I was there, but unfortunately that didn't work out - the beginning surfing classes they had all filled up really quickly and I didn't get a chance at it. However, I did get to kayak in the Monterey Bay, which was also really fun - I even saw the university from the Bay.
Overall this was a really positive experience for me. Even though it only lasted 3 months, I learned a lot about myself, about others and about people. I also had an awesome time while doing all that. I would definitely, definitely do it again.