An undergraduate who takes “study abroad” to the next level
Frankie (YIN Sun Frankie) is a senior at UCLA with a double major in economics and international development studies. (Photo: Peggy McInerny/ UCLA.)

An undergraduate who takes “study abroad” to the next level

UCLA senior YIN Sun (Frankie) has made study abroad an integral part of his undergraduate education.

Student: YIN Sun (Frankie), UCLA 2020
Major: Double major in economics and international development studies
UCEAP Programs:    Spanish in Madrid (UC Center), Spain, Summer 2018
Global Studies, Geneva (University of Geneva), Switzerland, Spring 2019


Background

As an international student from China, YIN Sun (Frankie) is already studying abroad by attending UCLA. During his studies here, however, he further expanded his constellation of international experiences by attending two UC Education Abroad Programs: one in Spain and one in Switzerland, with the latter followed by a summer internship in Geneva. With plans to attend graduate school in Australia, he is laying a multicontinental foundation for a future international career.

Studies & internship in Geneva

During my time at the University of Geneva, I took classes that are mostly related to international relations and the political environment, which counted toward the requirements for my second UCLA major: international development studies. Geneva is really THE place to study abroad if you are into international politics, transnational relations and international development. The city is home not only to the operational headquarters of the United Nations, but also to thousands of other international organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and diplomatic missions.

Frankie at UN headquarters in Geneva. (Photo provided by YIN  Sun Frankie.) I took five classes at the Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva. You wouldn’t find most of these classes at UCLA or, really, anywhere else. For example, one course called “International Geneva” surveyed the different international organizations located in the city, together with their roles, influence and dynamics in the current international political environment. We would visit an organization each week as a class, where a guest speaker there would introduce us to what they do.

Two highlights of the class were visits to UN headquarters and CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research). During the latter, CERN allowed us to go underground and see the famous giant particle accelerator, which was truly eye-opening and inspiring.

I also did a summer internship in Geneva at the International Trade Centre, an affiliated agency of the UN and the Word Trade Organization (WTO). I worked for the communications team doing multimedia production: interviewing and videotaping interviews with high-profile politicians and renowned entrepreneurs, as well as cutting, transcribing, enhancing, subtitling and adding voiceovers to the videos. I also provided on-site event support at the WTO and the UN, conducted market research on the best social media content and much more.

Throughout my internship, I was free to enter almost all of the international organizations in Geneva, including the United Nations and WTO, a privilege of which I took great advantage by going to workshops, networking events, presentations, press announcements, book launches and the best work cafes ever (lol!). This internship was truly valuable and helped set my path toward working for an international organization, a career I aspire to dive into after I graduate.

Motivation

I am an avid world traveler and had already studied for a summer in Madrid in 2018. My biggest motivation for the six months that I spent in Switzerland was the city of Geneva, as I knew it would be the perfect place to be to learn what it is actually like to work in the field of international relations. The University of Geneva program is really well designed and the courses offered were both interesting and valuable.

Most enjoyable experiences

I would say that my favorite experiences were all the weekend trips I took to neighboring cities and countries. Geneva is located in the center of Europe, making it is really convenient to travel to all the famous places there. Switzerland itself is an absolutely stunning and beautiful country; it’s the perfect country to visit if you love hiking and enjoy nature. I did a lot of traveling with friends that I made in the program, so it was very fun.


Countryside in Switzerland. (Photo provided by YIN Sun Frankie.)

Challenges

One of the challenges you face as a study abroad student is the transition to a different country and a whole different school system: setting foot in your new home for six months, getting all the immigration paper work done, understanding a different education system and so on. I dealt with these challenges by actively making friends and doing things together, so I didn’t feel alone.


Dinner with communications colleagues from the International Trade Centre.
(Photo provided by YIN Sun Frankie.)

Impact

The summer internship at the International Trade Centre in Geneva really broadened my horizons with respect to working in international politics and development. I feel that many students who study international development studies at UCLA are uncertain of what kind of jobs they would like to pursue after graduation (me included when I started!). However, we all have a genuine passion for promoting international development.


Vittorio Cammarota (center), head of communications for the International Trade Centre (ITC),
with Frankie and fellow ITC interns. (Photo provided by YIN Sun Frankie.)

Studying and doing an internship in Geneva really cleared that uncertainty for me. I saw all the different career options I could pursue and most importantly, I was able to network and talk with like-minded people who had many years of rich experience in international careers. They gave me invaluable advice and tips on how to better forge my own career path in international development.

Advice for UCLA undergrads

Studying abroad is really a once-in-a-life-time experience. You don’t get this kind of opportunity twice. I heard from a lot of people who have graduated and regret not doing a study abroad program while in school. Now they can barely travel due to all their new responsibilities and life roles. UCLA really offers you all the help and counseling you need to ensure that you have the best experience. If you are reading this, and you are already considering it, why not just go for it?

 


Visit the website at global.ucla.edu/iew