Why The US? – Elina Lua Ming (UCLA ’20)

Introducing our second member of the 2017 core committee – meet Elina! A current freshman at UCLA intending to declare a major in Economics or Cognitive Science, Elina has a myriad of other interests that include fitness and fine arts. Read to find out how the U.S. education system can accommodate anybody’s wide range of interests, just like how it has to Elina’s!

Why The US?


Simply put, I wanted to hone my logical precision and improve on consolidating my thoughts.

Thing is, I did not know how to achieve this so I thought that it’d be nice to pursue my tertiary education and be able to gain a wide array of knowledge from various subjects whilst still concentrating on a particular subject of my interest for the completion of my degree.

I love fine arts very much. Knowing that the height of athleticism is acquired through proprioception which helps athletes excel in their sports as well as knowing that contemplating on and understanding the characteristics of materials and properties of available resources helps artists create works that optimize the potentials of their resources and materials guided me throughout my childhood and I grew up thinking that an artist’s aptitude is defined by his or her technical precision and visual acuity. I spent my entire life thinking about spaces such as —- inter alia, spaces between my friends’ hairlines and eyebrows, spaces between my parents’ shoulders, spaces occupied by people, spaces between people, and spaces between spaces. This perspective has helped me improve my technical proficiency significantly as I traversed through my school years. Nonetheless, somehow the knowledge that I have acquired about technical precision and spatial familiarity never seemed to make me content; I felt that I was severely lacking mental precision and my thoughts were not in order. The divergence of my thought process lacks absolute convergence. My intuition told me that perhaps in order to improve on my thought process, I should expand the circumference of my existing knowledge by learning about many different things and take as many different classes as possible. The flexibility in tertiary education in the U.S. seemed like a perfect fit for me, so I applied to the US, and voila! I’m already completing my freshman year at UCLA.

I definitely did not regret my decision of coming to UCLA. UCLA’s a very, very big school and there is no doubt anyone here would feel like he or she is just a number amongst the other 31,000 bright undergraduates. However, if anything, the crowdedness of this place has given me a lot of room for self-reflection, reading, and recalibration of my thought compass. The breadth and depth of classes that I have been taking here throughout my freshman year have helped me think better as a person. As ironic as it sounds, the divergence of the knowledge that I’ve acquired here seems to be leading me to some sort of convergence of thoughts. They might seem irrelevant and unparalleled with my artistic goals, but I definitely feel like a better thinker now. Nowhere else but the U.S. would I be able to find the opportunity to take a multivariable calculus class, learn the basics of C++, study the origins of Abrahamic religions, justify the moral behind infidelity in an English writing class, discuss my thoughts on Michael Sandel’s trolley car problem, listen to Behnam Sadeghi analyze the logic of religion scientifically, all in one academic year.

California has been a wonderful place for me, not just academically, but also athletically. I’ve always been athletic since I was very little, and California has plenty of athletic activities to offer. I absolutely love hiking and camping in the national parks here. Having been overseas only a few times before coming to LA, I feel superbly blessed to be able to see and do a myriad of things here and I genuinely hope that everyone else will be able to experience the blessings that I have experienced.

This is Arizona, not California!!

If you have any questions on UCLA, arts, camping, hiking, and other random things, feel free to hit me up! If you’re into hitting the gym (be it lifting and/or cardio) and anything athletic, we’d be good friends too!

Come say hello to me at USAPPS!!! 🙂

Why The US? – Rachel Leong (University of Pennsylvania ’20)

USAPPS is back and so is our series of insights, musings, and stories from our super excited team of facilitators! What other better way to kick it off with a blog post from none other than our very own core committee member?

Meet Rachel, a current freshman at University of Pennsylvania who is pursuing a major in Actuarial Science and possibly, Finance. Here, she shares -with just the right amount of cantor- why she chose to study in the States and why you should, too!


Why the US?

Not that many people are familiar with my story, so here it is: My whole life, I wanted to study in the U.K. After receiving my SPM results, I toured A-Level colleges in Malaysia and started going through the syllabi (yes, I’m a nerd). It was my lifelong dream to study in England, and I was so close to making it a reality. However, my glee was short-lived because my scholarship provider decided to send me to the U.S. instead.

At that point, I was devastated. Why would I want to study in the U.S.?

After a few weeks of being bummed, I started conducting research about college life in America. I told myself that I would make the most out of the experience. Now, after almost 2 semesters at the University of Pennsylvania, I can confidently say that being sent to the U.S. was a blessing in disguise, and here is why.

1. I can take whatever classes I want to take, and graduate whenever I can

Imagine taking a class on Jay Z and Kanye West or a class that analyzes the Hunger Games. Well, in America, you can!

The flexibility of the education system here is one of the main reasons most students choose to pursue their degrees in the U.S. Here, we aren’t constrained by the major that we declare in our first year, unlike in the U.K. For instance, I’m enrolled in a lot of language classes even though I am a business major. One of my friends is in a Sitar class, and another is in a Yoga class (all for credit!). There is really no limit to what you can do in college classes here.

As for graduating, the recommended period one studies here is 4 years, but depending on when you complete the required number of credits, you can graduate earlier (or later). I know quite a few people who are graduating after 3 years, and some who are graduating after 5 years.

2. The grading system keeps me on my toes

I am someone who loves to study at the last minute. Back in secondary school, I would only open my Sejarah textbook the night before the exam and try to remember as much as I could. Here, with constant quizzes and assignments, I don’t have to cram right before the final exams because I would have studied consistently throughout the semester.


3. The holistic experience

The U.S. system emphasizes holism, so extra-curricular activities are as important as classes. There are out-of-class activities in the U.K. and Australia, too, but there is more emphasis on them here – just look at the university applications, which consider each applicant holistically. There is something for everyone here, whether you want to pitch stocks or want to advocate for LGBTQ rights.

Last semester, I took a class, Management 100 which provided me with so much hands-on experience. In this course, Freshmen are randomly assigned into groups of 10, and have to work with a non-profit organization in Philadelphia to take on a project. My team organized a week-long art show. Some of my friends had to provide management consultation to their clients, while some taught elementary school students.

4. Greek Life (WOHOO!)

Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, it’s not uncommon to see groups of college students walking to the different frat houses on campus. I personally do not enjoy frat parties that much, but I have attended a few just for the experience. They’re fun, especially if you go with a bunch of friends.

Before I came to the U.S., I told myself that I would never be involved in a fraternity or sorority, but guess who’s in a business fraternity now? Me. Professional fraternities aren’t technically considered “greek life” but that’s as ratchet as I’m ever going to be.

All-in-all, being here has been amazing so far, and I’m looking forward to the next few years. Let’s see if I come back with an ang-moh boyfriend.

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