Do You Want to Study Abroad?

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but memories last a lifetime. While I agree with this statement, I feel that it implies that we must either view the pictures or make our own memories and live the experience. Well, why can’t we do both! As a study abroad veteran, I can testify to the fact that one can be both a spectator and an adventurer. Studying abroad is something that I feel very passionate about and I am here to share the knowledge that I have with all of you, starting with a few misconceptions that people tend to have. **This blog is specific to the UC Davis Study Abroad programs. If you are interested in the UC Education Abroad Program, you can contact the UC Davis Study Abroad Office for help and information.


Misconception 1- Studying abroad is too expensive.

While studying abroad can be more expensive that studying in Davis, there are a variety of options when it comes to financing your trip. The first thing to consider is financial aid. If you are eligible for any type of aid (grants, loans, scholarships) during the regular school year here at UC Davis then usually your aid can be applied to study abroad. It is a good idea to visit the Financial Aid Office before studying abroad even if you do not receive financial aid to discuss and estimate how much aid you might be eligible for. The Financial Aid Office is located in Dutton Hall. Other options available to students here at UC Davis are UC Davis Study Abroad scholarships. These scholarships vary depending on which program you chose. Additionally, it is always smart to create a  budget for personal expenses and look at the cost of different programs when you are choosing which program to join. Some programs cost more than others,  airfare costs vary, and different countries can be more expensive to eat and shop in than others.

Misconception 2- I cannot study abroad because my major course load is too heavy.

A lot of students look at their major requirements and think that they are not able to study abroad because they cannot fit it into their schedule. While some majors may be less flexible than others, with a bit of planning, studying abroad is a feasible goal. The earlier that you begin to plan, the better. Take a look at your major courses and the prerequisites for the courses as well as any limitations as to when they are offered (some courses are only offered specific quarters). If you do not know what your major requirements are you can search the General Catalog to look at the different requirements. For students in the College of Biological Sciences, you can visit to view your major requirements. Once you know what your classes are, the prerequisites, and when they are offered, you can plan your quarters out with study abroad in mind. If you need any additional help, you can visit the Dean’s office for your specific college and meet with a peer adviser! We can help you keep track of your GE requirements and organizing your classes. Additionally, summer abroad is always an option for those who do not want to alter their quarter schedules.

Misconception 3- Study abroad will not help me with my major.

This misconception actually ties in nicely with the previous one. Study abroad does offer core classes for select majors. This way, you can study abroad and work towards completing your major requirements at the same time! For students in the College of Biological Sciences, BIS101, BIS102, and MIC101 are offered abroad. There are a variety of other courses offered abroad. One thing to keep in mind is that if there are no programs that offer specific classes for your major, you can always consider programs that offer classes that satisfy GE requirements, minor requirements, units toward graduation (you need 180 total), upper division units (you need 64 total), and electives!

Misconception 4- I won’t enjoy it because none of my friends are going.

It can be nerve racking to embark on a new experience without the comfort of familiar faces, but study abroad is a great opportunity to make new friends! Each program arranges a meeting prior to the trip so that all of the students can meet each other as well as the professor. Additionally, a Facebook  page and a group email is arranged for each program so that students can begin to socialize and maybe even plan to travel together for their trip! Also, the class size for study abroad is much smaller than the average class at UC Davis. Typically a study abroad group is about 30 people, so you definitely get to know everyone well and make close friendships. So don’t worry if none of your friends will be on the trip, not only will you make friends there but you can even make friends beforehand.

Misconception 5- I won’t get to visit any other places.

Study abroad is extremely flexible when it comes to personal travel. You are not required to fly there in a group or fly home in a group. Therefore, you are free to travel anywhere before your program starts, and once it ends you are free to travel to other cities or countries as well. Weekends are also great times to explore neighboring cities or maybe even spend the night in a nearby country. As long as you are present for required classes and meetings, and keep up with your coursework, you are free to travel as you please!

Misconception 6- If I study abroad in the summer then the class will only be four weeks long and it will be too fast paced for me.

While the UC Davis Summer abroad program is only four weeks long, you are able to get a more in depth knowledge of the course than you would during the school year. This is because your class size is considerably smaller (about 30 students) so the teacher to student ratio is smaller. Also, because you are taking two courses instead of three or four, you are able to focus on your classes more. Study abroad programs also have on-site tutors that are there to help you 24/7! They are UC Davis students who previously took the same course and excelled in it. Don’t forget that your peers are also good resources as well! With a small class size you will definitely get to know everyone which makes it easier to find a study buddy or form study groups.

Now that we debunked all of these misconceptions about the study abroad experience, I will go ahead and share my study abroad story as well as a few tips that I think will be helpful to all of you.

My experience:

I participated in the summer abroad program titled “Genetics: From Mendel to Genomes.”22254_14123_img2

I chose this program because it fulfilled one of my major requirements which is BIS101 and it involved multiple countries. I was able to visit Austria, the Czech Republic, and England as part of this trip. I attended school at the University of Vienna as well as Clare College at the University of Cambridge. My initial concerns about this trip were that BIS101 would be a challenging class and that I would struggle to keep up with the material. This concern was soon dismissed and I realized that help was all around me. We had two tutors on our trip who made themselves greatly available especially on the days leading up to the final. In addition to the tutors, the professor made himself available before and after every class and since we had class every day, there were plenty of opportunities to ask questions. Another concern that I had about this program was the price. However, as mentioned above there are many options for funding your trip. I participated in an essay contest through the study abroad office which awarded me a scholarship. I was also able to budget my spending money well on this trip because most of my meals were prepaid as part of the overall fee. My last concern for this trip was that I did not know anyone else that was going. I was able to organize a group lunch months before the trip started which was an excellent experience and helped me meet a few of the students that were going on the trip.

After writing about my fears regarding the trip I realize that I too was a victim of the common misconceptions that surround the study abroad experience! Hopefully this blog is able to steer you clear of falling victim as well! At the same time, I don’t want to give the impression that I was afraid of this trip because I was actually incredibly excited! I could not wait to go to Europe for the summer, meet new people, and eat new foods. My excitement was definitely warranted because I was able to visit world renowned research facilities, exchange awkward eye contact with leading scientists, make great friends, and learn a lot about Genetics. I definitely recommend this trip for those of you looking to complete your BIS101 requirement.

Before I end I would like to give a few tips to consider prior to delving into the study abroad experience.


1. Thoroughly research different programs and compare them prior to deciding on the one that you want.

2. Make sure to apply early because these trips are first come first serve (my study abroad trip filled up within the first week that applications were open).

3. You need to have a valid passport and a doctor’s approval for study abroad so make sure you have these in the works long before the due deadline for your application (your application will provide more detailed information about this).

4. Consider the differences in airfare for different trips because this is not included in the school fee.

5. Meet with a peer adviser or major adviser to see when a good time to go abroad might be.

6. Make sure you have the prerequisites for the courses offered abroad.

7. Try to get in contact with people that have already been on the trip that you are interested in and see if they have any tips for you. The study abroad office might be able to help you with this if you do not know anyone.

Hopefully this blog helps you get a better idea about study abroad and answered any questions that you might have about the program. I hope you all consider going abroad at some point during your time here at UC Davis! Take care.


Daiana Bucio

BASC Peer Adviser

3rd Year Genetics Major




How to Succeed in Upper Division BIS series

All College of Biological Sciences (CBS) students who are pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree have to take our core BIS upper division series. Depending on your major, you may choose to take BIS 101, 105, 104 or BIS 101, 102, 103, and 104. Let’s briefly discuss each class:

  • BIS 101- Genes and Gene Expression: In this course, students will learn in detail about nucleic acid structure and function, gene expression, replication, and regulation. Many students have previous exposure to the topic from a general Biology class but this class will guide students beyond introductory level genetics. A special feature of this class is an optional 1-unit, P/NP discussion section, BIS 101D. The discussion creates a space for approaching problem-solving and is highly recommended for students to enroll in.
  • BIS 102- Structure and Function of Biomolecules: The class focuses on the many aspects of proteins, lipids, and membranes. Key concepts from general biology, such as weak bond interactions, amino acids, the different levels of protein structure, and pH/buffer calculations, will constitute a substantial amount of the course. Additionally, students will learn new concepts, such as enzyme kinetics, enzymatic assays, as well as protein purification.
  • BIS 103- Bioenergetics and Metabolism: The student will be exposed to enzymes and substrates of the major metabolic pathways, such as glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, fermentation, Kreb’s cycle, Electron Transport Chain, and the Pentose Phosphate Shunt.
  • BIS 104- Cell Biology: Course content includes membrane receptors and signal transduction, cell growth and division, extracellular matrix and cell-cell junctions, and the immune system.
  • BIS 105- Biomolecules and Metabolism: This one-quarter course includes select topics from both BIS 102 and BIS 103, ranging from the fundamentals of biochemical processes to energy metabolism. Hence, some CBS students can choose to take BIS 105 in place of both BIS 102 and BIS 103. ***Note: Cell Biology majors and Biochemistry majors have to take both BIS 102 and BIS 103.

But how are these classes different than the general Biology series?

With few exceptions, professors that teach upper division science often have high expectations from their students. Professors generally lecture solely on concepts/facts and then expect you to solve problems based on integration and application of that lecture material. Hence, a lot of students get frustrated since they are not in the habit of thinking “outside the box.” Those students usually have a mindset of “just tell me what to know, and I’ll learn it.” To maximize your chance of succeeding, students should make an effort to:

1) Time manage! For each hour you spend in class, expect to allot at least two hours for studying. This rule of thumb exists for good reason and helps you practice good-studying habits. With the amount of content that you will be responsible for, allot time to review old material since exam-content is generally cumulative and concepts build upon each other.

2) “Cover all your bases.” Make sure you understand all the major concepts first and then tackle the finer details. If the lectures are recorded, re-listen to the podcasts to clarify any topics that may have been initially confusing or unclear. Students who make an effort to know their notes inside and out will be rewarded. (Pay attention to graphs, charts, experiments etc…)

3) Practice! Professors assign homework to get their students thinking, and much of the time exam questions are based off of homework problems. Practice exams, if provided by the instructor, give big hints as to what you can expect to be on your test. Creating your own set of notes independent of the professor’s slides can be a good source of additional practice. Recreating images or flowcharts for the purpose of note-taking will definitely give you an edge on the exam!

4) Seek help! Since problem-solving may or may not be covered in lecture, students usually have a multitude of questions about assignments. To address their concerns, professors/T.A.’s/ tutors have office hours on a weekly basis for open discussion. Try to think of office hours as an integral part of your learning experience and less as an “optional” resource, especially for the upper division sciences courses. The Student Academic Success Center also offers drop-in tutoring for BIS 101, 102, and 103. More information may be found here:

5) Help others! Don’t underestimate the learning potential from explaining concepts to your colleagues. Your classmates will quickly detect the holes in your understanding of the subject, to which then you can explore and address. This ties in directly with tip #2 since having a comprehensive and thorough knowledge of the material is crucial to your success.

In addition, forming study groups is advantageous  so that you and your classmates have a chance to debate about core concepts and help each other get on par with the material.

A final note is to just have fun with and enjoy these classes. Although it is challenging, the coursework is designed to prepare you for graduate programs as well as for your future career. In hindsight, all of the hard-work that I invested into my upper division classes paid off because I became detail-oriented and learned to think both globally and critically. With the concepts of the lower division courses serving as a foundation for those of the upper division, your educational journey with CBS will open your mind to the fascination of modern biology.


Wilson Ng
BASC Peer Adviser 2014-2015