Why should you study abroad?
My UCLA experience would have been incomplete without my study abroad trip during my senior year. As a political science major studying classical scholars and the political development of global political systems, you learn a lot more when you are physically immersed in your subject. At a personal level, you gain a deeper understanding of tolerance and accepting others through culture, traditional habits, and even food. You gain the ability to put yourself in the eyes of a foreigner, ignoring assumptions and stereotypes, identifying your own culture and that of others. You grow humble and discover greater possibilities of finding commonalities in differences and connections through communication. By stepping outside of your comfort zone, interacting with locals who speak a non-English language, gives you the competitive edge for graduate school and your overall career journey.
Where should you study abroad?
There are hundreds of study abroad programs to choose from, but narrowing it down with my academic counselor helped me discover the right fit. My counselor and I first went over major requirements. UCLA, like most colleges, requires you to complete a certain number of pre-requisites on campus before going abroad. The major reason I wanted to study abroad was to fulfill the last of my political science elective upper division requirements. The credits you gain abroad can also fulfill capstone research paper requirements and many graduate program pre-requisites.
How much will studying abroad cost?
The costs largely depend on the type of program, length, and course load taken abroad. I chose to study abroad during my spring quarter because I did not have enough money for a security deposit for the summer program. There are more opportunities to receive financial aid during the regular school year. I strongly recommend talking to a financial aid officer before applying for a program. The UCLA International Education Office (IEO) and the U.S. State Department’s Gilman Scholarship can help cover a portion or even the whole cost of a study abroad program. You lose more not applying to scholarships!
There are a growing number of programs that are accepting DACA students. A major resource for UCLA students is to visit the Bruin Resource Center (BRC), which can help connect you with other DACAmented students. UCLA Student Legal Services can connect you with immigration lawyers to guide you through the advance parole process.