An artists perspective into San Jose State University

Christina B., Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual Arts)
San Jose State University, USA (Semester 1, 2017)

Women’s March, 21 January 2017

Located in downtown San Jose, SJSU is part of a diverse local community. Being in the heart of Silicon Valley, tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Netflix have their headquarters nearby; there are large Hispanic and Vietnamese populations, with a great variety of restaurants and cultural celebrations on offer. Additionally, the progressive nature of the Bay Area results in lots of protests and community-organized events.

Accommodation 

My home during exchange with resident cat Sabrina

San Francisco is a little over an hour away by train and there are great hiking opportunities in redwood forests and open space preserves just a 30 minute drive away. Studying at SJSU gave me insight to both American college culture and Californian and the US life at large. I decided to live in a share-house off campus (to save a lot of money compared to on-campus housing and to have more independence), which meant I had even greater exposure to the day-to-day happenings in downtown San Jose.

Education

My exchange was part of a Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts) program and the facilities and technical tuition available at SJSU were outstanding! They have a wood-shop, metal-casting foundry, glass hotand cold shops, ceramics studio and jewelry lab… amongst many other facilities.

Friends from glassblowing with our work!

The teaching style was very different to at QUT: attendance was graded; there was no separation between lecture and practical time as the same professor taught both across the same session; contact hours were high; and the coursework was more structured and broken down into many small projects, which was ideal for learning a variety of new technical skills.

Experience

One highlight during my time on exchange was having a solo exhibition in one of the student galleries on campus. I negotiated an independent project with one of my professors and built a ten and a half foot tall sculpture for an installation. (Side note – becoming familiar with imperial units versus the metric system took some getting used to!)

A friend helping document my exhibition in Gallery 3 at SJSU

Student exhibition openings occurred on Tuesday nights from 6-9pm, immediately after a public talk by a visiting artist. The openings were a great way to network, catch up with friends, check out current art at SJSU and supplement one’s diet! The exhibition really increased my confidence in showing my work.

With friends after filming a performance work

Through studying at SJSU I gained a lot of wonderful friends, professional contacts and skills in art. Being situated in a new environment, I gained a new perspective about Australian culture and myself, as well as learning about American culture in all its diversity.

Just Do It!

Samantha, C.
San Jose State University (Semester 2, 2016)

I’ve always wondered why birds choose to stay in the same place, when they can fly anywhere on the earth… and then I ask myself the same question.

To put it frankly, if someone had of told me that I would be attending American college at the ripe age of 19, I would have believed it. Why? Because studying abroad was always a dream of mine, and I knew I had to work hard to get there.

San Jose State University

While going on student exchange isn’t just travelling as a tourist, it’s also living in a new country, with a new culture. In order to fit in, I had to immerse myself fully into the American lifestyle, by having day-to-day interactions with the locals, getting accustomed to their habits, traditions and culture, while gaining first-hand judgement and experience, which has and will continue to broaden my horizon for life.

In my opinion, a life of travel is a good thing to have… but the catch is, once you start, there’s no looking back! So where I began, grew and prospered was at San Jose State University (SJSU) in California.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

I chose to study at SJSU because of its fantastic extra-curricular activities for journalism and public relations students, their high graduate employment, and overall student satisfaction. Respected globally for its excellence, diversity, flexibility, range of opportunities and top quality academics, SJSU provides a broad variety of courses and more precisely in the communications area.

I chose to live on campus, in CVB accommodation, and shared an apartment with four other girls, with each having our own single bedroom. I also opted not to have a meal plan, and instead cook for myself! The closest grocery store was about a 10-minute walk, and in turn I dined out a couple times each week with friends. Living on campus, American college style, truly was incredible. As I looked out my bedroom window on the 11th floor, I viewed what could be deemed as college road, where all the fraternities and sororities were located – oh what a sight! Living on campus also allowed me to fully immerse myself into college life, where I was involved in clubs, activities like Victoria’s Secret Zumba night, and mingling with friends either at social events or just hanging out in our dorm rooms. I did however enjoy having my personal bedroom, which gave me a bit of down time and privacy to study and facetime home.

My Dorm Room, San Jose State University

At SJSU, I chose to study an overload of five subjects, and while it was very trying, with the support of my wonderful professors I pulled through and managed to achieve an A+ overall in each unit (equivalent to a high distinction – yay!). Though as you would know if going on exchange, the actual grade isn’t recorded on your QUT transcript, but rather satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

During my time abroad, I made an abundance of new friends both international and American. The support network was fantastic, and never once did I feel lonely or isolated, but rather overwhelmed… in a good way. As an Aussie you’ll feel like a celebrity (totally not kidding!) and you’ll understand this once you’ve been. It was amazing to have other students interested in my home country and where I come from, as was I with their culture too. On my first day, I mingled with all the other international students who I remained close with throughout the first week while I settled into college and met all my American friends. In fact, I miss all these friends so much, that I have just booked another trip to return and catch up in less than two months, with only my flights to book and the accommodation covered. If that’s not enough to convince you to go, let me share with you my account of America.

SF Giants V NY Mets Baseball Game

America was everything I had imagined, but MORE. It is a very upbeat, exciting and spontaneous country! So much to see and do, and the people are extraordinarily friendly. No day was the same, and I always found myself creating lists of things I have to see before my departure date. While I was in the U.S., I was fortunate enough to travel extensively through California, seeing sights like San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Yosemite and more. I also travelled through Hawaii, Arizona and Nevada. And yes I did visit the Grand Canyon, Universal Studios/Disneyland and also got to climb Diamond Head in Waikiki.

Diamond Head, Waikiki

I now look back on the breathtaking photos and vision, and It blows my mind that yes that was me standing there. There is still so much to see and explore in this magical country, and many ask what my favourite place was, and I can confidently say it was San Jose State University. Going on student exchange would have to be the best decision I have ever made… and SJSU will forever be my second home. While I spent just one semester in the U.S., the experience I have gained will undoubtedly endure throughout a lifetime. I promise, if you’ve ever had a slight thought of going global with QUT, I say… just do it, you won’t regret it.