Máté tells us about the USC Price School Exchange Program

2017/3/29 9:43:44

 Author: Désirée Nieto

How would you describe your experience in 3 words?

Enriching, fun, promising

Did your arrival in the host university go smoothly? Did you get enough help for settling and registering?

Yes—even though a little more preparation from my part would’ve made things go even smoother. Students are taken care of, there is a great number of staff and services to turn to if you encounter any kind of problem. One should not be afraid or shy to ask for help, there’s always a solution.

Is the classroom environment and teaching style at USC very different from what you experienced at SJTU?

Generally, things seem to be more organised and planned out. Syllabus here are always like contracts—one’s responsibilities and rights are clearly spelled out; deadlines are strictly enforced. Office hours—which are also always offered as after-class follow-up opportunities—are also very useful. So all in all, I’d say USC education runs smoother than at SJTU. However, since the size of the university is massive, it tends to render students into a faceless mass. At SJTU, almost everyone knows everyone, thus it creates a stronger sense of community.

Were you able to choose from a wide range of courses? Any courses that match those from our home university?

As a rule of thumb, one has to fulfil the prerequisites and obtain clearance to take a graduate course at any school at USC (not only at the Sol Price School of Public Policy). Therefore, a wide range of basic and intermediate level graduate courses are available, and it is really useful to look up as many school’s courses as possible from law school to school of communication. Officially, though, one can only take 12 units (three or four classes worth) of courses. This also results in plenty of free time. I also use it to sneak into courses I am not officially allowed to take, it’s always interesting to learn and see something new.
Studying here is complementary to SJTU SIPA education mainly focused on China. Even though there is a lot of courses that have China and the Asia-Pacific as their subject, at Sol Price School of Public Policy, they take a general and universal stance towards public policy. This means a broader knowledge and expertise compared to SJTU SIPA’s nuanced and country-specific approach. To me, whose main interest lies in the EU’s foreign economic policy, it is the sweet spot of mutually reinforcing and complementing approaches, and I am extremely happy to have the chance to see from this perspective, too.

I would like to know what has impressed you more from the exchange, in order: student life there, courses offered, university campus, city, and country’s culture.

It’s difficult rank these diverse and sometimes intertwined things, but I’ll give it a go.

  1. University campus: to me, the learning experience is the most important aspect—I’m an exchange student after all. USC’s campus is huge, gorgeous, and offers many services.
  2. Courses offered: it can’t go to the first place only because there are some limitations regarding the courses one can take (see third question), but still an impressive, vast, and promising selection.
  3. Student life: many-many options to choose from from student organisations to dorm parties, sports games, clubs. Options are endless.
  4. City: Los Angeles is a unique metropolis, the world capital of entertainment, the second most important city in the whole US, and the most important one in the state of California, the largest state economy in the country. It is vastly diverse, and there are so many things to try. And the best one: the weather! In the coldest months, it is solidly above 10 degrees Celsius, and from March on, 30 degrees is not rare, either. Don’t forget your sunglasses!
  5. Country: experiencing the US at first hand is an amazing opportunity, especially for me who’s never been here before, but tries to build an expertise in knowing the most important world economies’ policies. Many things are stereotypically true, some things defy the common “wisdom”, it is sometimes surprising, frustrating, entertaining, enjoyable, or refreshing. It is definitely a time to remember for me.

What type of students do you think should apply for this exchange?

I think the most important thing to have for this exchange is independence, and a will to go out there, make friends and make the most of the numberless opportunities. Good time management is key to balance studying, social life, and exploring the city and the country. Also, a solid financial background is something that is important as costs of living are higher than those in Shanghai. But anyone who’s up to these challenges should apply.

What has been your most valuable learning experience?

Being here. I’ve learned many-many things about US society, politics, and people in this interesting time. I also feel that there are even more professional opportunities (scholarships, fellowships, events, jobs, internships, etc.) than I previously have known of. It is sometimes overwhelming, but USC and its courses definitely help to render this multitude of impressions into an enjoyable and highly useful experience.

Would you mind if we provide and e-mail address on the website so that prospective applicants can contact you if they have further questions about the program?

Absolutely not: my e-mail address is matematyas@gmail.com and you can find me on WeChat, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I’m happy to help.

Thank you so much! We wish you have a wonderful time there.