Though Minnesota is not a popular place for tourism in United States, it is a decent choice for education and developing your career. I was delighted that HKUST had offered me such a precious chance in spending one semester in Minnesota. Study in the United States broadened my analytical perspective from merely consider the examples in Asia to a wider vision of critically evaluating those arguments on an international level. I believe this would be an essential dimension for problem solving for my future.
Programs at the University of Minnesota shared similar course structure with the HKUST, bit had a different focus. During my semester in the United States, I took 6 courses: AutoCAD for Construction, Construction Plan Reading, Ecology, Oceanography, Natural Resource in Sustainable International Development, Geographical Information System in Natural Resource. To prepare students for tackling real-life problems or nurturing their research skills, American education emphasizes on hands-on experiences for undergraduate students. At the beginning of the semester, I was surprised that the ecology class consisted of a laboratory session each week. Later, I found them enlightening. Not only did I need to go to the field to collect the sample, but also needed to conduct a group research project using programming R. This course strengthened my academic knowledge in ecology as well as the skills for carrying out creditable research. Though the workload was heavy, the technique and knowledge I learned were extremely inspiring and practical. I enjoyed my academic life there.
Other than the hectic school life, I joined some outdoor activities organized by the University Recreational and Wellness Center. Could you imagine camping in -20 Celsius degrees? That was surely one of the bravest and craziest adventures in my life. Even though I kept standing in front of the camp fire, I could not help shaking in the wind. Now, I am proud to tell others that “I survived the Minnesota Cold!” Rock climbing near the Taylors Falls was also memorable. Whenever I wanted to give up, tour leaders and the other participants encouraged me. Eventually, I successfully finished the route. The supportive atmosphere I experienced during the day trip and throughout my exchange motivated me to strive for the best.
Exchange would be a treasurable experience for everyone. Some of my classmates said they became more independent after their trips, while I found some lost pieces of myself. Learning in the United States reignited my passion towards learning. Kind assistance from professors and teaching assistants eased my worry in the entirely new environment; the sustainable development examples from Latin America I learned about in the lecture filled my missing gap in understanding the world; the well-designed course content in each class enabled me to learn the most from all the lectures. Even though I may not continue studying soon after graduation, my exchange journey will be a reminder for me to pursue life-long learning in my life.