If you are a student from one of the UC schools (the University of California’s: Berkeley, Los Angeles, Merced, Santa Barabara, Irvine, Santa Cruz, or San Diego) then chances are, when it comes to studying abroad that doing so with UCEAP makes the most sense for you. (Conversely, if you are an international student who would like the opportunity to study abroad at one of these universities in California, they have options for that too.)
UCEAP or the University of California Education Abroad Program has 405 programs from 45 countries from all around the world, offering semester-length to full-year-round programs for students, giving you more than enough options and opportunities to find the right program for you.
One thing I heard a lot when I told friends and other students as I was preparing to study abroad was, “Oh, I could never do that-” or “My schedule would never allow it” and things along this line. I’m here to tell you why you’re wrong about that, fellow UC student, and just how you can make your own study abroad dreams come true.
Not all programs are created equal: every study abroad option comes with its own strengths, weaknesses, benefits and so on, so it’s really important that you do the work to figure out just what school, exactly, you want to partner with. The UCEAP website is laid out very efficiently to help you get started, you can also edit your search based on major, country, semester/time of year, and more. You can also see the classes available at potential host universities and through tailored programs in order to make sure you are able to knock out some of your major and general education requirements wherever you go. I hear the I’d-Never-Have-Time complaint the most from STEM majors, but there are plenty of excellent universities in the UK and around the world that could have exactly the right courses you need if you did a little digging to see.
Financial Aid Advising
Once you’ve narrowed things down a little, going into your university’s study abroad office or attending any UCEAP/study abroad fairs/talks/etc., can really help your planning and peace of mind. One of the major deciding factors for me personally was knowing what sort of financial aid I could expect, and my Study Abroad office at UC Berkeley had a specific financial aid adviser I could walk-in and see to talk about just that. Of course, not every student receives aid: if you don’t currently receive aid, then looking into alternative scholarships may be your best bet…however, if you already do receive financial aid, then you should be able to expect a comparable form of aid at your UCEAP destination. This was huge for me, and I know for many other financial aid recipients out there to know. It never hurts to check!
Peer Into Their World
Talking to another student who had the opportunity to study abroad can be just as helpful, if not more so, in order to understand just what it’s like to be a student in another country. UCEAP often hosts events on campus in order for you to meet representatives and students who studied abroad in the programs of your choice, so this can be a great way to meet someone that can be a potential help (and future friend!) for your journey. Another way is always going down and talking to a peer advisor at your study abroad office! Figuring out where the student hot spots are, and any sort of tips and tricks to making sure you don’t get lost on their public transport and so-on can be invaluable, especially to a first-time traveler.
Once you get going, things are going to happen very quickly. Make sure you get your passport and visa (if needed) settled ASAP-you don’t want to wait till the last minute with things like this, or with checking in and making sure that the classes you looked at signing up for are given the O-K from your major/general advisor. Look into things like how to unlock your phone to get a SIM card abroad, and just what way would be best for you to exchange your money so you don’t end up starving in an airport, and so on… It’s an exciting and wonderful time as things begin to wrap up and you find yourself getting ready to go, so hold on to that feeling when you get stressed. It’ll all be worth it, I promise.
Have you ever studied abroad through UCEAP before? Where would you like to go? Let us know in the comments down below!
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Lauren West graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English and Digitial Journalism in December 2018. She is a Southern California native, an INFP with anxiety, and at any moment trying her best.