Carina is a fourth-year student from Curaçao, who is working on her thesis on the topic of Intellectual Property Law. In her third year, she went on exchange to sunny Los Angeles, studying for a semester at Southwestern University.
By Piyumi Jayasundera
1) When did you go on exchange and for how long?
I went on exchange to Los Angeles from January 2016 until June 2016.
2) What kind of courses did you take?
I took some courses related to IP law, such as copyright law and fashion law. I also took other courses such as Latin American laws and institutions. There are many courses to choose from, with a great amount of courses that aren’t available at HHS.
3) What were your professors/teachers like?
The professors were very well-informed. They were good teachers as they were able to explain the subject matter well.
4) How did you find it different to HHS?
It was very different from HHS because it was a law school. It was a lot smaller than HHS because law is the only program offered by the school. It is very focused and, as a result, there are more resources available than at HHS. There are also more law organizations that plan events.
5) How did you find the examinations?
The examinations were a lot longer and more complex than HHS. For certain courses, the questions were very challenging and for others they were not. It really depended on what courses you took and how many credits they were worth. Certain courses also gave take-home examinations. Although the exams are more challenging, they seemed to be lenient with the grading.
6) How did you find the atmosphere of the university?
The atmosphere was a little bit intense at first. Since it is a law school, people were a lot older and more serious.
7) Were there any international students?
The international students are mostly from Saudi Arabia. In the beginning, they have an introduction program where you can meet them.
8) What was your first impression of the city?
The city was a lot bigger than I expected. The size may overwhelm you in the beginning, but once you understand how to get around, it will be fine. I also got the impression that the city is very diverse. You can find all sorts of people in the city.
9) What did you like doing most in the city? What were your best experiences?
My favourite part of the city was exploring different neighbourhoods. There are several neighbourhoods that have their own unique character. Since the city is so big, there are quite a bit of places that are very different from each other. The food is probably the best part - it was incredibly delicious. There is any and every cuisine you could possibly think of.
10) How was it to find housing?
It was a bit of a hassle to find housing. The school has on-campus housing, but they reserve them for full-time students. After I already found housing, I received an e-mail saying that there was an availability on campus. You should do a good amount of research before choosing a place to live. Certain areas are not very safe or pleasant to live in and you should see if there is public transport around.
11) How was public transport?
Do not expect the public transport of the Netherlands! Everyone drives in Los Angeles. There are buses and the metro, but it is not as extensive as Holland. With patience, you will get to the places you want to go.
12) What were any disadvantages that you faced?
A disadvantage is definitely the public transport. There were certain things I wanted to do, but was unable to because of the lack of public transport. It may be difficult to go to places that are further away. Certain areas are dirty and you may see many homeless people. It is not pleasant to see, but it is manageable. If you see beyond that, you can really appreciate the city.
13) Where are the best places to go?
My top recommendations are:
14) Would you recommend it?
Yes, I had a great time. It is a very different experience and I would recommend it to anyone that has an open mind.