Campus Resources Can Help Students Plan to Study Abroad
The UC Education Abroad Program offers more than 250 program options in more than 30 countries. There are also Travel Study Programs available through UCLA, as well as the Quarter Abroad Program.
By Bethany Powers, Bruin contributor
GOING ABROAD can be an exciting and rewarding experience for students. But there are so many opportunities abroad for Bruins, it can be overwhelming to decide which program to choose, what country to go to and how to prepare.
First of all, students should consider their personal goals and preferences when picking the country at which to venture, said the International Programs Counselor, Malcolm Quon.
Many students use their time abroad to satisfy a foreign language requirement, learn a new culture or study the global economy.
Picking the right program to go through for your time abroad can be confusing, but there is a wealth of resources on campus to help students out.
Students are encouraged to visit the International Education Office in Murphy B300 or go to the office's Web site.
Workshops and information sessions are held throughout the year, and counselors are also available through the Education Abroad Program to assist students who are thinking about going abroad.
The UC Education Abroad Program offers more than 250 program options in more than 30 countries, according to its Web site. There are also Travel Study Programs available through UCLA, as well as the Quarter Abroad Program.
But some students choose not to go abroad through a UC-sponsored program, so information regarding other abroad programs can also be found at the International Education Abroad Office.
For coursework to be transferred, students must take classwork that meets the UCLA's requirements, according to the International Education Office's Web site.
The application process for many programs is six to nine months prior to the program's start, with some even earlier.
As soon as students decide what program they want to go through, they should start the application process, Quon said.
"The UC Education Abroad Program and UCLA Travel Study are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis," he said. "It's important that students turn in their applications as quickly as possible."
Once a student applies and is selected to go abroad, there are a lot of other considerations to take into account.
Hunter Smith, a third-year political science student, said he should have looked more closely into the amenities provided before studying abroad.
Smith said he studied abroad in France over the summer with the French Language Program, organized by UCLA Travel Study.
"Make sure you know what they provide," Smith said. "I was confused about how many meals they provided, and it ended up being none."
Getting a passport can take six to eight weeks, sometimes even longer if it is a busy travel season.
Housing while abroad also varies by program. Some housing options are like college dorms, while others are more private, like an apartment or house.
When deciding which program to use, students should take into account what the social atmosphere will be like, as well as the academic one, Quon said.
Another tip Smith gave is to check the exchange rate before going abroad, as it can fluctuate wildly.
He said he should have brought more money than suggested because the exchange rate made everything so expensive.
"I wish I knew how much more money I'd need than what it suggests on the Web site," said Smith. "The exchange rate was the highest it's been when I was there."
But students who are concerned about finances do not need to let that stop them. If a student studies abroad through a UC-sponsored program, their financial aid can be applied to their time abroad, Quon said.
Checking the weather and being prepared for any situation is also a good idea.
It is also important for students to be prepared health-wise to go abroad. All students that go through the UC EAP must complete a health check before they leave, and the Arthur Ashe Center is also prepared to help any students studying abroad make sure they receive the proper health care before leaving, like the right vaccinations.
Besides the Ashe Center, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and the U.S. State Department can help students figure out how to stay healthy and safe while abroad.
The International Education Office's Web site also contains tips for students planning on going abroad, like what to pack in a first-aid kit and how to avoid jet lag.
Andrew Blauert, a second-year international development studies and Spanish student, went abroad to Argentina for two months over the summer.
He thinks going abroad is an experience every student should participate in.
"It was an amazing experience," said Blauert. "It's a great opportunity to learn another language and learn about another culture."
Published: Thursday, November 20, 2008