Studying abroad: Don
Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris, France. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay.)

Studying abroad: Don't miss the opportunity

Jonathan Redaelly (UCLA 2017) participated in a travel study program in Europe that focused on European domestic and foreign politics.

"Current undergrads: do not, I repeat, do not, miss your opportunity to travel and study in a foreign country while you are still in college."

by Kevin Sprague (UCLA 2018)

UCLA International Institute, October 20, 2016 — “Traveling to Europe was one of my life goals,” Jonathan explained. Wanderlust was the inspiration for the psychology major’s decision to study in Europe: “I have always had a desire to explore the world and visit as many new places as possible. As a result, I turned to study abroad in order to fulfill my wish of experiencing new cultures, while completing graduation requirements.”

He’s quick to add that summer program wasn’t just a dream come true, it was an eye opener. “In all honesty, I consider my experience abroad this summer to be the highlight of my four undergraduate years at UCLA. Why? Because nothing will challenge you to grow personally, professionally and academically as much as studying in a foreign country will. It will require you to become invested in local matters, to explore and figure out the way of life, to learn how to navigate social networks and to dedicate yourself to new academic levels.“

“I studied in London, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Paris through the [Travel Study program offered by the political science department], which focused primarily on European politics,” Jonathan explains. “This summer was a great time for us to explore this topic because of the Brexit vote, which took place in the UK while we were there.”

Over the course of the summer, Jonathan ran the gamut of what Europe has to offer by visiting a total of 14 different countries after his program ended. “Each country had a different personality, taste and rhythm of life.” he explains. “In some countries, life seems very organized and direct, while in others life appears to be more relaxed and slowly paced.”

Jonathan doesn’t have a specific moment he’d pinpoint as a favorite (there are too many to pick just one); instead, he’s grateful for the overall educational experience. “My experience educated me on the reasons why certain cultures practice certain traditions. For many European cultures, traditions that have lived through generations are of paramount significance. For others, it is about identity and how the activity serves to embrace and represent their culture.”

His feet may be back on Bruin ground, but Jonathan is already itching to board another flight. “As a result of my time abroad, I am now interested in one day having a career that requires me to travel often between continents. I loved my time abroad very much and hope to someday return and establish my life there.”

Jonathan is emphatic in his endorsement of the program: “Current undergrads: do not, I repeat, do not, miss your opportunity to travel and study in a foreign country while you are still in college,” he implores. “The experiences and connections you will create abroad will transform your life and help you become a more educated world citizen. Studying abroad may be intimidating and costly, but the gains are worth much more.”