Is study abroad worth it?

by Ko Kashiwagi

Study abroad is a transformative academic experience that can cultivate memories you will never forget. At UCLA, thousands of students choose to study abroad each year, and many claim it is the best decision they have ever made. At the same time, there are many uncertainties that come with studying abroad. As a student that studied in Copenhagen, Denmark this past summer, I know those thinking of studying abroad have many questions in their minds — from whether they should study abroad, what program to join, where to study, what to study and how to apply.

Photo via Adobe Stock

Photo via Adobe Stock

Is study abroad right for me?

There are many factors to consider when applying for a study abroad program, including financials, timeline, course options, safety and more. The cost is definitely one of the biggest concerns for many students, and it is something you will most likely need to think about. The fees can vary depending on the program, and the cost of living is also different in each country. Note that there are financial aid options and scholarships that can be applied to, so you should plan ahead of time. Your year and major can also influence your choice, since study abroad programs may either boost or lengthen your path to graduation.

Jack Masland, a third-year undergraduate, says his study abroad program allowed him to make a lot of friends and cultivate fun experiences. “I studied in Paris this past summer, and I had the best time there — I made great friends and got to explore everywhere in the city,” Masland explained. In addition to a positive experience, studying abroad can bring a lot of academic benefits. “On top of fulfilling two French classes for my degree requirements, I was able to immerse myself by speaking French with locals,” said Masland.

There can be many limitations and concerns when leaving home for weeks and living abroad. With that being said, with proper research and planning, you will certainly figure out what is right for you.

Types of study abroad programs

UCLA Travel Study is an outstanding option for UCLA students, as it encompasses classes taught by UCLA faculty. You will be able to take courses that are offered at UCLA, meaning the credits will be equivalent to taking the courses on campus. There are programs offered for a variety of majors in countries like Singapore, Madrid, Florence, London and more.

UCEAP, or University of California Education Abroad Program, is a UC-wide program that partners with 115 universities worldwide from 42 countries. Some programs also offer internships, research opportunities and volunteer opportunities. While students can earn UC units and some classes can be transferred to fulfill degree requirements, this requires an application after the completion of the program.

UCLA Global Internship Program is an eight-week program that allows students to intern with organizations or companies for academic credit. While completing the internship, students also enroll in one to two online courses.

UCLA Exchange is a program that partners with universities throughout the world for students to gain an immersive international experience. Students learn in foreign universities as part of the student body for a unique learning opportunity as well as a local experience.

Tips for study abroad

Plan early

In order to smoothly integrate study abroad classes into your degree map, it is crucial that you plan ahead of time to make sure the programs can aid your academics. Some students may need to obtain visas to be abroad, which may take time.

Apply early

Depending on the program, deadlines may pass long before the start of the program, and some program applications may close early due to popular demand. If you are applying for financial aid, applying early will be especially important.

Contact IEO

The IEO, or the International Education Office, provides information sessions for students to learn about programs ahead of time. They also hold drop-in advising for students to consult about their specific situation.

Have fun!

While balancing academics and adjusting to a new living environment can be challenging, don’t forget to have fun! Studying abroad is a special opportunity to explore places you have never been to.

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Studying abroad can come with a lot of uncertainties at first, but with planning and preparation, you will be well on your way to having the experience of a lifetime!

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