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 basc.ucdavis.edu 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.
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.
BASC Peer Adviser
3rd Year Genetics Major