Student Spotlight, Study Abroad
Spending a semester abroad in San Diego was what I was most looking forward to this year, and I was incredibly excited when I finally arrived at the San Diego International Airport. At the same time, a sense of nervousness and anxiety started forming in my chest. I knew very little of how my life was going to look for the following four months. I had no information about how my apartment and room would be, I only knew one of my roommates, and I knew very little about my classes.
Additionally, I soon realized that the nine-hour time difference between San Diego and Italy would severely impact my chances of contacting friends and family in case of an emergency. Thankfully, my fears were soon calmed by the welcoming environment at the University of San Diego, even though hardships never failed to occur.
Arriving to University of San Diego
After sixteen hours of flight, two planes, and three airports, I finally landed in San Diego. The first step after getting in a taxi and reaching the USD campus was finding my on-campus apartment. Despite having watched the online campus tour provided by USD, finding my way around the many Spanish-inspired buildings and roads at night was quite hard. Unfortunately, the housing team was not particularly helpful: after checking in, me and my roommate were simply given a paper map with no indication of where we were, and we had to find our apartment by ourselves. Not only did we have no internet connection on our phones, but the campus was also dark and empty, since most of the students still had to come back for the Spring semester. The walk from the housing office to the apartment was a 20-minute hike over the hills of the campus, all while carrying two luggages and a backpack. By the time we reached the apartment, I was overwhelmed. After a little break to rest and calm down, I realized that the room was much colder than it was supposed to be. When I checked the windows, I saw that one of them was missing its handle and, therefore, could not close completely. While it is true that I was in San Diego, even California gets rather cold in January. Because of the cold, I decided to turn on the heating, but it was not working, while my roommate went to check on the shower and realized we had no hot water. At this point, the only thing that I could do was to take it lightly. Therefore, I decided to deal with everything the following day.
Arriving to University of San Diego
How I Spent the Following Days at USD
The following days went much better, and the housing office was very efficient in helping us with all of our problems and requests. The International Office also organized tours around the USD campus and around San Diego for us to adjust to the change and learn to navigate the campus and city. The campus itself looks like its own city: it has almost anything a student may need during a semester, from a small supermarket and the dining halls, to the sports center and even a church. Even though it may seem intimidating at first, it is not that hard to understand how the campus works, since all buildings have name abbreviations and the classes are organized by numbers. The International Office also organized a few activities with other international and study-abroad students. For example, on the day before classes started, we held a bonfire on Mission Beach, one of the many beautiful beaches of San Diego. Lastly, me and my roommate decided to explore the city by ourselves as well. We wanted to see as many things as possible before classes started when we did not have homework or exams. Among the many places we visited, we went to Little Italy, Broadway Pier, Coronado, and Balboa Park.
University of San Diego held a bonfire for students on Mission Beach
Getting Adjusted to Life at USD
The first few days of classes were a blur of names, rooms, and information. Soon, I realized I needed to make a few changes to my schedule. Being used to John Cabot University’s efficiency, I was quite stressed when nobody in the Registrar office replied to my emails for days. Considering the size of USD and of its student body, it is understandable that they had to deal with a lot of issues, and this experience definitely helped me adjust to studying in such a big university. As for the actual classes, I soon noticed that most of them were larger than the ones at JCU. Another difference was that some classes meet three or four times a week, and on Fridays too. For example, my "Calculus I" class meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays but for only 55 minutes. One last difference that I spotted was the variety of online homework platforms that professors use; almost every class requires a different one, and some of them are quite costly too. The last thing that I took note of is not a difference between USD’s and JCU’s classes but a similarity: all of my professors are extremely helpful and they truly care about their students and their success in the class.
All professors at USD care for their students and their success
Despite being chaotic and intense, my first few days in San Diego were exciting and promising. I had to face several difficulties, but USD’s staff and professors provided me with help and guidance. It has been an interesting journey so far and I truly hope that I can continue my experience in a similar way.
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