Study Away: Monterey Bay, California

Alexandria Waldschimidt explores California’s coast during National Student Exchange.

for the UAS Whalesong
During last spring semester I was able to travel around California, be a part of a larger student body, and all while, worked on my UAS degree. I did that by participating in one of UAS’s academic exchange programs – the National Student Exchange (NSE) and spent the semester at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB).
My favorite part of my exchange experience was being able to visit a new place every weekend. Studying by the (other) bay put me almost in the middle of California’s coast, which gave me a chance to go to San Francisco, Disneyland, and many beach towns. I had the opportunity to visit Yosemite National Park and Sequoia King Canyon National Park for weekends full of camping and hiking.
I hiked in Yosemite to the top of the famous Yosemite Falls where, on the way up, you become eye level with Half Dome and the rest of the granitic walls. I saw the largest Sequoia tree in the world, called the General Sherman, in the Sequoia King Canyon. And, at the top of Moro Rock I saw the Great Western Divide and the Kern River watershed. The ability to travel and see so many different parts of the state so easily was fantastic.
Another perk of participating in NSE was that I attended a larger university and was engrossed in the campus life. The university competes at the NCAA Division II level and it was great fun to be a part of a student body that supports their teams. I actually went to several real basketball and baseball games. The university also had countless clubs. It seemed as if every Friday and Saturday night a new event was being put on by a club. I participated in the Outdoor Recreation Club which allowed me to explore so many more beautiful places. We went rock climbing in the Pinnacles National Park, and hiking in Garland Ranch Regional Park and the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. I found numerous clubs that were passionate about their cause and sponsored events of significance such as inviting Angela Davis to speak during Black History Month, or helping with a Women’s March and a March for Science. It was wonderful experience to be a part of such an enthusiastic, informed, active, and motivated student body, all working to make their voices heard in a respectful manner.
On the academic side, I found the class sizes of a minimum of 50 and on up to a 120 was a shock after attending UAS. However, I also found all of my professors to be very passionate about their fields and I still was on a first name bases with all of them. They were very encouraging and supportive. I learned a ton academically and enjoyed all my classes.
The exchange was an incredible experience. I completed course work for my UAS degree, traveled within the state with ease, learned a lot about California, its environment and natural surroundings, enjoyed the recreation opportunities and student body, and gained a better understanding of myself. I encourage all UAS students who are considering a study away experience to look into the national program. The process includes paperwork and a few meetings, and the experience away was well-worth the time and effort!
For more information on study away programs and opportunites contact Academic Exchange & Study Abroad Coordinator/ International Student Advisor Marsha Squires at


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