I’m writing this letter to share with you that I’ve been having so much fun here in La Jolla, San Diego for the last 6 months. Just like you know, I’m currently studying at SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography in UC San Diego, one of the best Campuses in the world to study the ocean. Not mentioning that our campus is also considered as 1 of 10 most beautiful campuses in USA by US-Universities website, which is proven when I attend a class where the beach and Pacific Ocean is only 20 steps away!
At Scripps, I’m majoring in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation for a Master Degree. This program is an interdisciplinary program, which is designed for students or professionals that already have work experience and aim to improve their capacity to be able to contribute more in their field regarding the sustainable management of the marine environment. We learn not only from the science perspective but also from economic, policy, and communication perspectives.
I started this program with a summer course in June, when the sun shines beautifully in La Jolla and the temperature is a perfect 230 C. Even though the summer course is intensive and sometimes a little overwhelming, my fellow classmates and I pulled together to really enjoy it. The best thing is we have several cool field trips, such as a visit to Tijuana Estuary Park, research cruise onto San Diego waters and the best was a 1-week field trip to Catalina Island. In a nutshell, we not only study theoretically but we also get a chance to see and practice directly what we’ve learnt in class.
The other thing about studying here is the participation aspect (asking questions, comments, discussion) really matters. And most of the classes take participation as a part of your grade. This is sometimes very challenging for an Indonesian student like me. First, because of the language barrier on some technical words, and secondly, I am not used to a very active learning education system like here, where students are required and encouraged to study and participate actively in the learning process, e.g.: reading by him/herself, engage in discussion, presentation, etc. However, I try my best to participate more, especially after 1 lecturer said that she enjoyed every time I made a comment, she said that my comments always thoughtful and the experiences I had is quite interesting and worth to share. The other differences are the atmosphere and facilities to study. Here it seems every corner of campus is designed to have a place where students can study comfortably. There’s a comfy bench, grass area, picnic table, where students can just sit and read; also the library is an awesome place where you can find almost everything for your study needs, not only books or journals but also the conditions you need for successful study.
In my class almost everyone is American, there is only one British student and myself that are not from the US. So far, I think that Americans are really nice people, a little bit loud, but they are nice and helpful. Sometimes I have problems understanding particular lectures, but my classmates are very helpful with teaching me and explaining my confusion. They also have tolerance, there are times when I have to fast or pray and they support me so that I can do it properly. My roommate in student housing is also an American. He is nice too; he is a graduate student majoring in theater and sometimes gives me free tickets to see the play!
Our campus also has a really great aquarium, which contains some thematic tanks and exhibitions. It’s called Birch Aquarium and is quite a famous tourist attraction here in San Diego because of the attractive and educational shows for the visitors. Since I try to engage myself in other activities besides study, I plan to apply to become a volunteer at the aquarium and help them to share the knowledge about ocean to people, especially kids. The other effort to escape from the campus routine is by joining an activity I have longed for a long time ago: Archery! Starting this quarter I take an archery class here at UC San Diego and hope I can master it to some level during my time here.
Well, I guess that’s all I can share for now, wish me luck for the upcoming quarters and hope you all have the same joy like I have here!
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