Student Spotlight: Alvin Du – Trying New Things

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Alvin Du came to England to study abroad and have an adventure, and he was certainly successful! From joining law societies and dance clubs to travelling all around Europe, he did it all. Read this amazing testimonial from Alvin on his amazing study abroad experience and the advice he wants to give future study abroad students…

I’m Alvin and I’m from Phoenix, Arizona. I’m currently a bundestag pic.JPGSenior at UCLA. I study Economics and Political Science back at UCLA, while I study Business here at University of Warwick.

I chose to study abroad mainly to reignite my passion for learning and exploring. I felt that I had been getting into a boring routine my Junior year. I lost the enthusiasm and idealism I had as a freshman. I remember attending guest lectures, club events, off-campus opportunities, and volunteering opportunities. But as a junior, I felt that I had become too focused on studying and not enough time experiencing new things. So, I decided to apply for a term abroad in England to get closer to the idealism and enthusiasm I had as a freshman.

When I was applying for study abroad in England, I had a choice from 13 universities. I decided on University of Warwick because I wanted to combine an excellent academic experience with a cultural experience. Initially, I intended on taking law classes, but because I only planned on staying for one term, Warwick’s business school was the next best option.

My experience here at Warwick has been amazing. Right from the start, I met so many international students from Europe. My roommate is from Italy, and our floor is comprised of students from China, India, Wales, Isle of Man, and London. According to the statistics of the student body, around 20% of the students here are international. The dorming experience is so similar to my experience back at UCLA: living on a floor with other students in small rooms, movie nights, talking until the sunrise, late night procrastination with the floor, and nights out.

I felt that by virtue of being in a new place, that I should try new things. I mean, that was the main reason I wanted to come abroad. Much like the UCLA Club Fair, I attended the University of Warwick Societies Fair to join societies I was interested in. I went to “taster sessions,” which were free events held by societies for students to see if they like the society. I participated in triathlon, spin, dance, law, and business societies. I ended up joining societies in law, business, dance, and breakdance. I wanted to join a law society because I intend on becoming a lawyer one day. I joined the business society because I eiffel-tower-picwanted to see what the events were going to be like. And I joined breakdance and hip hop because I’ve always liked watching dance videos on YouTube – and honestly, because I also wanted to look cool dancing as well.

The law and business society usually hold networking events with local firms, large and small. So for me, that didn’t mean much since I couldn’t intern or work in England. For hip hop there were three classes every week with a dance coordinator prepped and ready to teach choreography to famous songs. For breakdance there were training sessions everyday, flexible for my busy schedule of travelling and involving myself in other activities, with a member of the crew practicing, who’d also be there to help newcomers.  Performances for both hip hop and breakdancing differ in that for hip hop, you could jump in once you knew the choreo and perform with the society at special events that the society joins. For breakdance competitions its mainly for much more advanced dancers, but these competitions are also much rarer for this Autumn term.

Joining the dance and breakdance society has been a great “eye opener,” in that my initial fears of dancing have been erased. I was afraid of being judged harshly on my inflexibility and being bad at dancing. But the members were always so supportive and ready to help with any detail of the dance move, how to move my body, and timing. I know that once I come back to UCLA, I’ll be joining the dance clubs. Recently, I participated in a filming project with the breakdance society and I had to learn the choreo in an hour. Dom, the president, was by my side to teach me the moves that I had been learning since I joined during First Week. We went over it as many times until I got it, then practiced it with the music until I got it. Then when filming was being done, it felt so amazing to be in sync with a group of dancers and hitting each move correctly.

All in all, my experience abroad has been everything I wanted. I travelled around England, France, Germany, and Italy. I had overflowing enthusiasm to go to every event that I could attend. Every day for the first few weeks, I did something, whether it was travelling around England, or doing something on campus. It was so tiring, but so worth the effort.

flat-picI felt like I’ve been here for over a year, because so much has happened. I went to Stratford
Upon Avon too walk the town that Shakespeare once lived in. I went to Oxford to see the posh side of an amazing University. I saw the bustling city life of London, went on the London Eye, toured the river Thames, walked around Buckingham Palace, saw the National Art Gallery, Tate Modern, and Natural Science Museum. I went to Bath for the Christmas markets, and walked around a beautiful city with Christmas lights and performers playing holiday music. I went to Berlin, got lost, saw the city at night and found my way around with help from locals and Google Maps. I went to Museum Island and the Bundestag. I went to Paris and went up the Eiffel Tower. I tried to use my four years of French, but I realized that I knew nothing. I tried French cuisine, which I think I spent the most money on. And I went to the Louvre, Palace of Versailles, Musee d’Orsay, and the infamous Champs Elysees. And finally, I’ll be travelling around Italy with my roommate, before heading back to the states. I have so many memories and great experiences here. And I forget that it’s only been three months. I forget that most of my friends here are experiencing college for the first time. And, quite sadly, I forgot how quickly time passes when you’re having fun.

My advice for future students is this: don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to get into new societies that you have no knowledge of. The members are more than welcoming, they love teaching what they’re passionate about to someone who is willing to listen and to learn. Don’t be afraid to travel alone. Always plan your travel, keep your valuables close, and talk to locals for help if all else fails. From my travelling experience in Paris, London, and Berlin I can confidently say that the locals aren’t as cold and harsh as people think. They love to talk to people from around the world, even if just for a bit, and help you around the city.