1. What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?
Being so far away from home without the opportunity to visit until my program ended. The things that you’re doing everyday are so new and exciting, that time flies by and you learn to appreciate the place you’re in as a home away from home! Additionally, social media makes it so easy to keep up with friends & family back home, that most of the time, it feels like you’re basically there.
2. What do you wish you had done to better prepare before going abroad?
Figured out a better debit/credit card situation… it’s worth putting in some time to research different card options to find one that won’t charge you an insane conversion rate while traveling. I relied on my debit card, pulling money from ATMs in different countries (including my own), but the ATM fees build up and doing the conversions in your head can be pretty difficult. In my opinion, it was too stressful dealing with various foreign currencies through ATMs.
Tip: Be wary, not all countries accept American Express.
3. What were your favorite classes abroad? How did they compare to UCSB?
I took a class on the History of Edinburgh which was amazing because I got to learn about the history of the city that I would be calling home for the next 9 months. I think all classes abroad are interesting because you get to see how content is taught through a different lens and from different perspectives as the instructors are typically from the country you are studying in. UCSB classes are more demanding, as we are on the quarter system vs the semester system that most universities abroad are on.
4. What is one of your best memories from abroad?
I took a weekend trip up to the Isle of Skye. I would 110% recommend visiting the Scottish Highlands. The trip I went on was an overnight one, and it stopped at some famous spots along the way. It was through a company advertised on campus and so a lot of other abroad students were on the trip. I went with a couple of other UCSB students and also made some friends from other states.
5. What was your biggest challenge abroad?
My biggest challenge was getting out of my shell and taking advantage of the opportunities to go out and explore the new environments around me. Being in a completely new place can be hard; I found exploring a new city on my own to be intimidating, but once you just go out and do it, you wont regret it. There is so much to see and when else will you get the opportunity to live in a new country? Don’t be scared; you’re fully capable 🙂
6. What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?
The friendliness and casualness of Pub culture. By this, I don’t mean the ability to drink and party, but more so the atmosphere of pubs and the social culture that they have bred. In the UK, it is commonplace to meet friends at a local pub after class or work and grab a drink. Everyone is friendly–the atmospheres are great for meeting new people and really getting a feel for Scotland’s social culture. At pubs you and friends can watch the latest Rugby games, try some traditional foods/beverages, listen to some great live, local music, meet some other students, and/or just enjoy some quality free time at a local dive.
7. Did you intern, volunteer, or conduct fieldwork or research abroad? If so, tell us
about your experience.
Yes, I did. I was the UCEAP student representative at the University of Edinburgh for the school year. It was a great experience! I got to work with the UCEAP staff based at the university and got to know the students who were also in the program. I planned events for my fellow peers and served as a liaison between students & the UCEAP staff. I also volunteered for a film festival that was put on through the university. Both experiences helped me feel like a member of the university community and staying busy and involved helped with homesickness!
8. What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back?
Dark Chocolate Digestives. Horrible name, completely misleading, but they are the most delicious cookies. Well, in the UK cookies are referred to as ‘biscuits’, so I guess technically, they are the most delicious biscuits. They are plain cookies covered on one side with a layer of dark chocolate and are meant to be eaten with some tea. I was absolutely addicted. I brought home 4 rolls of them…
9. How have you changed since your time abroad?
I gained self-confidence and realized an independence that I never knew I had. Traveling abroad forces you to look at yourself and the people you surround yourself with in a different light. You face challenges and new opportunities that sometimes force you outside of your comfort zone. Once you tackle them though, it is the most reassuring and impressive feeling.
10. What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students?
GO FOR IT!!! Commit to the program, take the class, book the flight, sign up for that tour. You may only have this one opportunity to have this experience-make the most of it 🙂