Exchange Report


Exchange Report
University of California,
Exchange report
Wong Mei Sin, Bianca
BBA (Acct & Fin)
Fall 2015
Part I – Monthly Activity Log August I arrived in San Francisco on 21 August, a day before orientation. As it started in early morning, make sure you know the exact location so that you can arrive on time and will not miss any important information. Attending this orientation allows you to meet new friends who are also on exchange so that you can find your travel buddy easily. UCEAP had also organized many activities for exchange students to navigate and adapt to the environment quickly such as campus tour and coffee tour. For me, I had joined a campus tour and learnt more about the history and traditions of UCB. During weekend, I went to San Francisco and visited China Town and Fisherman’s Wharf. September Clubs would start recruiting new members in September. If you are interested, you can first gain an understanding of the club and express your interest by visiting its counter in Sather Gate. You will then be informed of its annual general meeting or networking event and be invited to attend its interview. I had decided to join HKSA because I could meet more undergraduate students from Hong Kong other than exchange students by participating its monthly activities such as BBQ social. As classes just begun, there was not much coursework so I went to Japan Town in San Francisco and Emeryville which was very close to Berkeley. At the end of September, I joined a two-­‐day local tour to Yosemite and Hearst Castle. October There were more career events in October which gave you the opportunity to network with experienced professionals and drop off your CV. Remember to check the events posted on Facebook and emails frequently so that you will not miss any important ones. After finishing the mid-­‐term exams, I visited Alcatraz and Stanford University. Alcatraz is highly recommended because you can enjoy the beautiful sea view while learning more about American history. In the last week of October, I had joined Berkeley Project Day which provided me opportunity to volunteer, as well as kayaking. November I travelled to Los Angeles at the beginning of November for three days. It was much warmer in LA compared to SF and you could find good Asian cuisines in LA easily and the price was reasonable too. Then I went to Las Vegas and Grand Canyon for three days and was amazed by the beautiful night view in Las Vegas. There was a five-­‐day holiday including weekends because of Thanksgiving. I travelled to Seattle and Vancouver during that. Remember to get your travel signature in DS 160 ready when you decide to travel out of United States. December There was a dead week without classes before final exam commenced. Students would normally do their revision and complete all group projects during that. After I finished the final exam, I travelled to New York on my own for six days and visited Lake Tahoe, Reno, Salt Lake City and Yellowstone National Park with my dad before I went back to HK. Part II – General Exchange Information Visa Procedures You need to wait for University of California to issue a certificate of eligibility before applying for the J-­‐1 visa. After filling in all personal information and making the payment, you will be invited to book an interview time slot. Since there are many applicants, you may wish to book the interview time slot as soon as possible. Accommodation It is very costly to live in residential halls. International House (I House) is the most popular residential hall because it is famous for accommodating students from different cultural background and organizing different types of social events. Normally, it will only accept applications from students on exchange for the whole academic year or for the Spring semester. For me, I lived in a Single room in Stern hall which was a female hall. The downside is having less fun. Once you receive an offer from a residential hall, you will be required to join a meal plan. Course Registration 1. UGBA 131 Corporate Finance (Equivalent to FINA 4104) – 3 Units – Recommended Since Prof. Etter’s class is discussion-­‐based, it is very important to do the assigned readings before class so that you can follow the class discussion easily and contribute your ideas. You can gain valuable and practical knowledge about leveraged buyout (LBO), bank loan and financial analysis and forecasting from this course. However, there are a few things that you should pay attention to. As lecture starts sharply at 8:10, be sure to arrive on time. Otherwise, you are not allowed to enter the classroom. Remember to bring a notebook and pen to jot down notes since Etter will not go through textbook knowledge with you and laptop is prohibited. Skipping lectures is discouraged because some weekly assignments will not be posted on Bcourses. 2. UGBA 180 Real Estate Finance (Equivalent to a finance elective) – 3 Units – Not Recommended I do not recommend this course for those who already have a basic understanding of finance (have taken FINA 2303). This course is mainly about applying what you have learnt from FINA 2303, e.g. time value of money and IRR to real estate problems. I don’t think I have learnt a lot from this course. Also, the workload is quite heavy. There are five group projects in total. Although the technical knowledge learnt from this class is not difficult for those who have basic understanding of finance, the group case studies are very complicated and time-­‐consuming. 3. UGBA 122 Financial Information Analysis (Equivalent to a finance elective) – 3 Units -­‐ Recommended I highly recommend this course for those with an accounting background. You will learn how to develop analysis and forecast for a company’s financial performance by reading its 10-­‐K and understand how the adoption of different accounting policies impacts the presentation of its financial statements. By developing analysis and forecast for different companies’ financial performance, you will know more about what makes a business tick. Climate The weather is in general dry in California. It is important to bring enough water when you go out. Before November, it is still very warm and the temperature is usually around 20 to 30 degree Celsius. Then, the temperature drops to below 15 degree Celsius after November. Transportation Generally speaking, transportation is not very convenient in US. Many places cannot be accessed with public transport. When you need to go up to UCB campus from downtown Berkeley BART station, you can take AC Transit or Bear Transit (only available in weekdays) which are both free for Berkeley students. If you want to go to San Francisco, you can take BART which costs around USD 4 for a single trip. Health & Safety You are required to join an insurance plan called SHIP which covers all necessary medical expenses. Although SHIP is costly, it is nearly impossible to be waived even if you have already joined another insurance plan. Since UCB is not very safe at night, it is important to always travel with a group. You can also call for a Bear Walk if necessary. Be careful when you plan to travel to Oakland (a small city next to Berkeley) since it is one of the most dangerous cities in US with high criminal rates. Food There are altogether 4 dining halls in UCB including Foothill, Clerk Kerr, Café 3 and Crossroad. If you have been offered a place in one of the residential halls, you will automatically be enrolled in a meal plan as mentioned above. You can check what's offered in each dining hall every day by visiting Caldining’s website. You may also wish to dine in restaurants other than dining hall. A meal typically costs USD 8 to 10. You can find many Asian restaurants in Telegraph Avenue. Communication I had purchased a prepaid SIM card with 4G data and unlimited texts and calls from AT&T. T-­‐
Mobile also sells prepaid SIM cards but the quality is generally lower. It cost me USD 45 each month and I usually paid online when the plan was about to be expired. Costs/Expenses Round trip flight from HK to SF: $13000 Accommodation fees (including meal plan): $1700 x 7.8 x 5 months SHIP plan: $10000 Phone plan: $45 x 7.8 x 5 months Travelling: $30000 Dining & Transportation: $10000 Part III – Items to bring Calculator (Both scientific & financial) Stationery Sunblock Umbrella Medicine Mobile Phone & Phone charger Laptop & Laptop charger Travel Documents (HKID, Passport, DS 160) Summer & Winter clothes Adaptors Business suit