My Week of Contrasts

Taking an Open-Note Midterm

Last week was kind of a tough week. I had a midterm exam. This was an open note exam, but I never thought we could actually bring notes to a math exam. Although it’s open note, the exam was still hard. It really tests how you understand the course, not only how well you can make calculations. I think the main difference between Chinese university courses and US university courses is that in the United States the professor will provide you with everything they have. So when testing, you really need to make sure you understand the course, not only how to calculate. 

One important thing I learned here is that American students also work really hard. And they don’t work hard for an exam or for their parents, they just work hard from the bottom of their heart. They love what they are doing.


Exploring LA as a Shanghainese Sophisticate

I explored LA a little bit: Hollywood, Universal Studios, Griffith Observatory and Beverly Hills. They are really beautiful. The good service and hospitality really impress me. My favorite is Universal Studios, where they built Harry Potter Wizarding Land. I got myself a wand there, drinking the pumpkin juice, eating the jumping chocolate frog. I truly had a great time. 

Santa Monica is where I visit the most. It’s quite a cute place. Although it’s not as fancy as Shanghai’s shopping malls, the music covering every corner of the street every night and the passion it has makes you feel as though you just couldn’t love it more.


Attending an American Birthday Party and Lunch With a Professor
This week, I also got invited to a birthday party for my American roommate. That night was fun, and I got to know how US citizens celebrate their birthday. The most interesting experience I had was with a professor I accidentally met at a Starbucks in Santa Monica. She is going to teach in China, so she needed some help to prepare for her trip. So, I helped to advise her and ease the stress of her confusions and anticipated problems. In order to thank me, she invited me to the UCLA Faculty Center and her house for lunch. 

UCLA Faculty Center is just so beautiful, quiet and elegant. It’s definitely a pure joy if you can have meals there everyday. Her house is beautiful, and the first American house I have ever visited. Thanks to my roommates’ advice, I brought a carrot cake for the lunch. The professor was really glad I brought a cake and the cake was also really delicious. I really love my roommates! I hope we can be friends forever.


~ From Zhuofan Zhang, an SAF Student Correspondent