|Global UGRAD Malaysia||
I reached Eau Claire, Wisconsin, on 19 August, 2010 and there I started my magnificent exchange experience abroad at the United States of America. I was placed at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, majoring in Bachelor of Business Administration – Management Entrepreneurship. Back in Malaysia, I pursued Bachelor of Science - Actuarial Science. Thus, studying business was a complete novel field for me. However, I was very excited because business was what I was always passionate about learning. Throughout the academic year, I took 22 credits of business related studies and 3 credits of American study, which was U.S. Culture and Institution. I joined several college clubs like University Activities Commissions, International Student Association, and Malaysian Abroad Diversified.
I encountered numerous culture shocks when I first mingled in the American community. Nevertheless, I found it very thrilling because that was what I have always anticipated to experience. A new life; a new culture. I enjoyed participating in various cultural events. One of the examples was our college “International Folk Fair”. I, along with other Malaysians, represented Malaysia in the fair to promote Malaysia and our culture such as food and costumes. Besides that, I also took part in our college’s Homecoming, Halloween celebration at Madison, Thanksgiving, and Native American’s Pow Wow Party of the Ojibwe’s tribe.
In social aspect, I tried for my first time salsa dancing, two-to-tango, and Waltz in our annual Viennese Ball. Dancing is really fun! Although Wisconsin had the most severe underage drinking issue, I did not drink and party that much. For sports, I jogged, swam, and played basketball, badminton, ping pong, and volleyball. I also enjoyed watching American Football on ESPN. Most important, the very sports that I enjoyed the most were downhill skiing and cross country skiing. That was what I did not get to do in Malaysia because we do not have snow. As Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland, I even had the chance to go down to my American friend’s farm to milk cows!
Volunteered at International Fall Festival
In addition, I was actively involved in community service. In the Fall Semester, I volunteered to help out at the International Fall Festival, organized by Downtown Eau Claire, Inc. My roles included being a volunteer coordinator, floater, working at the information center, as well as helping to tear down. In spring, I helped to sort out and categorize some international stuff and document of a high school in Washington D.C.
Sales Team of 44th Eau Claire Jazz Festival
I completed my internship by working as a Merchandise Sales Manager for Eau Claire Jazz, Inc. It was my first time to get involved in the music industry. I got to learn jazz so much and I found that I really enjoy jazz. Some of my roles were to find the merchandise to sell, negotiated the price, determine the price for sale, manage the inventory control, manage merchandise logistic, and do sales reconciliation work.
With my host family - Ruth Anne &John at their cabin.
In addition to campus life, I also had a nice host family that hosted me for the first few days I arrived and brought me out periodically during my academic year.
Introducing our traditional costumes
In March, together with three other Malaysian UGRADers, we represented Malaysia in Re-Entry Workshop that took place in Washington D.C., organized by World Learning. We were so delightful to meet all the wonderful UGRADers from the other 19 countries. Wearing Malaysian traditional costumes, we performed a Malay song- “Rasa Sayang” at the Cultural Night.
Apart from academic, social, and cultural involvement, I also took every opportunity I had to travel all around the U.S. From the nine months period, I visited several major cities – Madison, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Washington D.C., New York, Boston, Milwaukee, etc. I really enjoyed travelling in the U.S.
All in all, this exchange experience has shaped my life as a better individual. I returned to Malaysia with a mix of American and Malaysian values. It turned out that choosing to apply for Global UGRAD Exchange scholarship one of the best decisions in my life. Thank you MACEE! Thank you Global UGRAD! Thank you World Learning! Most importantly, I want to express my profuse gratitude to all Americans! Without them, I would not have gone to America. Thank you!
By: Choo Choon Sian, University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire (UGRAD 2010-2011)