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Online Exchange Report —— University of San Diego

           19 IMBA Liu Chang

From January 15th ,2021 to May 15th,2021, I had experienced the 5-month online exchange program during the worthiest pandemic period in U.S. University of San Diego was belonging to the “Purple Area” that the entire school need to be closed for the whole semester.  What did I experience in an online exchange program?

Luckily, I was the most fortune one who has become the only Chinese student in every online class and I ‘d like to share with you what had happened in these five months.Apparently, all the experience, insights and emotional moments that I had immerged with were far beyond my imagination. At first, I could not imagine how could I spend the entire five months for an online exchange program with 15 hours’ time difference? what would happened of some unexpected influence to my normal life in Beijing, China?  What if there were only dozens of online teaching videos and assignments waiting for me? After such long period of struggling, I still remember that day when I sent the E-mail to confirm my online exchange learning decision with tears.

 The first online “Crying Class”

 The first online gathering of friends while I was being hugging on TV.

 The first online 30-class course for a 5-month spring semester.

 The first online class experience from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m.

 The first online bonfire party with classmates while I was being holding and passing by hands within a computer screen around with them.

 The first 15-class course and handed in 40 assignments.

 The first online negotiation with classmates for family heritage topic and for how to avoid the cosmic nuclear explosion in case simulation.

 The first online final exam from 1:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m.


Start:  Not a good experience

Without any kick-off ceremony, I just had an online Zoom meeting with the MBA Assistant Director of international business program. The Spring semester was coming without any preparation or pre-noticed.

1st Crying Class 

Official class name is Interpersonal Group and Dynamics which I was being told that every student will be crying at the end of this course. With curiosity and excited fulfill my mind, I readied 9 articles before the first class. While I finally got to understand what the “interpersonal” really is.

Just the day before the class started, I was being noticed that I could not attend this course because of the online study will influence the effort of the other classmates. Considering that the professor insisted the potential opportunity to teach in real class, they had to drop me off before the first class is beginning. (I received the E-mail from the MBA office on Monday night while the class will start on Tuesday, Beijing time)

Anyway, I had already finished all the assignment and got the Zoom meeting number on Blackboard. I still believed that I should have a try even if it was the first and the last class for me.

We had a really formal introduction about each classmate including habits, family members, kids, job background and etc. When it was my turn to introduce and I just could not control my tears to express my feelings and emotion to everyone that it was the first and the last class for me and I had a strong willing to attend the whole class but the MBA office could not accept my online learning application. We discussed a lot with other classmate and they had given me suggestions to ask for help with MBA office.

After class, the Professor Dr. Phil organized 6 online meetings with MBA office and to help me solve this situation in 2 weeks. He also sent the E-mail to everyone in class to introduce the importance of the diverse in his course and the value that I might bring to his class in order to ask the consent of adding me to his class.

I received the below E-mail in the mid-night with tears and crying like an idiot in my living room at 4:00am (Beijing time).

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for your thoughts about Chang Liu’s, the MBA exchange student from China whom you met during our first class, request to continue to participate in the our online GSBA 515 class sessions. All that have responded about Chang’s request are okay with it as long as she 1) is held to the same expectations as the rest of and completes the work; 2) doesn’t prevent any waitlisted students from joining; 3) doesn’t add complexity that will detract from an intimate class environment with 16 members; will still be able to attend remotely if we are able to return to campus this semester.I think that all but one of the concerns can be positively addressed:  Chang has agreed to be held to the same expectations as the rest and complete all assignments; she hasn’t prevented any waitlisted students from joining (there are no other students on the waitlist and everyone who was on the waitlist has been given the option to add – the last on the waitlist was Frank to whom Chang graciously gave her spot. Chang does add to the complexity of the class but I do not think that it will detract from an intimate class environment– she will bring a valuable different perspective as some of you mentioned.

Chang will still be able to continue attend remotely if we are able to return to campus this semester.   IPJ222 is set up with equipment for hybrid classes so she could participate from China if we go back on campus.  The Assistant Director Academic Programs and the Program Manager of Graduate Business Student Services are okay with Chang participating online throughout the course and have re-enrolled her in the class.  Their reasons are, and I quote, as follow:

“The reason special permission is being considered on her behalf is because she was one of the original 16 enrolled in the class, but had to drop due to no fault of her own in that the American consulate in Beijing did not reopen so she was not able to pursue her visa.  Further by the time Chang was dropped on Monday, there was only one student remaining on the waitlist, to which Chang graciously gave her spot.

Additionally, this is the one semester she is able to exchange at USD where other USD MBA students may have the opportunity to enroll in the class in the future.  But since there were no further students on the waitlist, this might be a moot point.

I don't believe it likely she will dismiss the work as she is very dedicated to this learning opportunity.  Just as there is no guarantee that any of the other 16 non-auditing students won't prioritize something else in their lives should the need arise.

I have watched as she put forth considerable effort to attempt to move herself to the United States to have a cultural immersion experience, only to watch it slowly dissolve due to health considerations and lack of international diplomacy; neither of which Change had any role in generating.  On the flip side of all of this, I feel that the group has so much to learn from Chang.  This is an opportunity for them to discover more about Chinese mindset and perceptions.  That if we are going to work with people across cultures, her participation provides the group an intimate insight into the Chinese business mind and how we might all learn and grow from these differences as well as discover similarities.  It's not the same as having her in a finance or accounting class; the content of 535 really gives students the opportunity to connect and relationship build with Chang.”


What Dr. Phil and other MBA students taught me could be far more than many face-to-face courses. And the acknowledge I had learned from them could inspire me to face everything optimistically and bravely in many further subsequent work and life.

The first hug on TV online gathering

This course requires a support group activity within 4 group members together. Although I have imagined countless ways on how to visit my friends, For the first time, I was hung on TV like a ghost and visited my good friend's house "virtually".

I visited his yard and three dogs online. Except for being a little dizzy, there is no sense of discord between virtual visits and the real visits.  At 9 a.m. in Beijing, I held up my glass and clinked a red wine with my friends.

Probably, I was the only student who had this course completely online in the history. I was the first student who had a group dance and a bonfire party with classmates virtually.

The first online bonfire party

The customized class schedules

Another class I had chosen is Operation and Supply Chain Tools while I noticed that the professor of this course was the former din of University of San Diego Dr. Pyke who had grown up in China.

In order to maintain the course schedules and avoid the mid-night data storm that we reorganized the class schedule to separate the class time into 28 classes. (1.5 h for each class, twice a week)

Just to make sure that we could learned more efficiently and effectively at the limited time with case and equations, in case that some of us could not understand the idea immediately, we could have enough time to figure it out by ourselves after class.

What’s more, I still remember that we got the individual greeting from Dr. Pyke at the beginning of each class. That makes the online course a little bit special.Adding the office time that I had had with Dr. Pyke, Totally I got more than 30 classes in this course while compare with the strictly 8-class schedule in PKU.

The first online hybrid class

Considering the covid-19 situation that some of the class will organized as hybrid model while we only had online class once a month. Curiously, I attend one of the hybrid class while most of the students were part-time students and lower tuition fees.

For each week, I need to read the articles and submit my comments on the platform follow the professor’s instructions on website. After finishing reading and writing for each model, we would have an online case discussion monthly to enhance a deeper exploration towards different working background.We need to organize the group discussion, explore the articles all by ourselves.

The online 1:40 to 4:40am exam

After 3 months online class, to wake up at 3:00am in the morning is not that hard anymore and become periodically internal clock for me. But the 3:00am final exam experience is completely different while all my mind for the exam is to finish it as soon as possible.

The first 3 pages course evaluation

Generally speaking, the course evaluation process is mainly focused on the following 3 dimensions:

a) Whether the course content design and the course itself meet expectations.

b) Whether the professor's expression is clear, whether or not he /she may help students answer questions, reply to homework and answer questions in time.

c) Students’ perspective

Whether the course will have significant value and sustainable improvement for students’ future Whether this course may keep updating and improving the teaching process in time. For example, some students in the online class reported that the video written by the teacher on white paper could not be seen clearly. After 2 weeks, the teacher changed it to a whiteboard explanation. It is convenient for students to save and record screenshots.


Although I spent the entire Spring Festival holiday with class and assignments around me, I did not have lunch until 2:00pm in Beijing for 3 months and still I usually woke up at 3:00am automatically.

Different culture background could bring unbridgeable distance towards different person while the exchange program just provides us a valuable experience to cross the culture barriers. I learned tremendous experience from my exchange classmate and professors while this is not just simply about what we had learned in class, but beyond the class contents is to help us comprehensively enhance about how to communicate with another culture and how to be yourself while face different work and life situation.

Furthermore, the interpersonal skills and the respect I had received could help me to be more confident to deal with conflict which might happened in different culture background. The ability to better understand the others and another culture.

Greeting and respect from professors and other students could help me generate such powerful energy to be confident when I communicate with others. What’s more, trust from others and self-confidence could bring me the most valuable assets which could completely change my further behaviors towards other classmates and colleagues.

Bravely immersing yourself in a diverse exchange culture could be much helpful for broadening your personal horizons and further enhance the interpersonal skills which is essential for your further career. Hope that more students will have this opportunity to explore and entertain yourself in this special period of time.

Hope that you can receive something from my personal exchange experience.

Thanks again for the MBA exchange program that even in this pandemic period I could have this valuable and unique online exchange experience.

Thanks again for the University of San Diego that accept me as an online exchange student to have such wonderful and unforgettable memories.




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