What is Study Abroad?
Studying abroad is an organized semester or summer abroad from one’s current school to take courses at an international university. The University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) has allowed UC students to study and live all over the world since 1962. With nearly 60 programs currently available, hundreds of students are able to learn, travel, and explore the globe.
UCEAP is the most common option for University of California students, considering the fact that the organization is designed to meet UC requirements. Other options include:
- If you are a newly admitted freshmen, you may opt to partake in Global Edge. This alternative allows freshmen to spend the summer in Berkeley to then spend their official fall semester in London.
- While study abroad typically takes place during the fall or spring semesters, you may prefer to embark on a journey over the summer through the Berkeley Summer Abroad program.
- Some students choose to apply for the Berkeley Global Internship program to acquire global professional experience.
- Finally, several independent programs are available to accommodate students whose desires, academic interests, or course requirements are not met by UCEAP.
Overall, Berkeley offers a myriad of options that will ultimately meet every student’s needs! For me, I truly wanted to be in South America for the spring and summer (our fall semester) to enjoy the amazing hiking, beaches, and everything outdoors.
How to Pick Your Program
Although having so many options available is incredibly exciting, the abundance of programs can make the selection process difficult. Meet with your academic advisor to discuss what path makes the most sense to you, both personally and academically! Talking to program alumni, UCEAP officials, and peers that have studied abroad is also incredibly helpful.
If you can, find a program that directly connects to your major. To do so, filter the programs available to those pertaining to your area of focus. Go to UCEAP’s website menu, select ‘Search by Region of Study’, and explore options that are relevant to your majors, minors, or just general interests!
Personally, I knew I wanted to pursue a program that not only met my major requirements but was also in Latin America. As a third-year Global Studies major with a concentration in Peace and Conflict in the Americas, I had my heart set on acquiring both professional and personal experience in my region of focus. I also plan on minoring in Spanish and Journalism, so I wanted to have the opportunity to continue to develop my linguistic and writing skills in both Spanish and English!
Selecting my study abroad was rather easy compared to most as the Human Rights and Cultural Memory program in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Santiago, Chile, checked all of my boxes.
This was one of the few social sciences options available in Latin America, but it was truly everything I could want in a program. The program was dedicated to the human rights issues pertinent to both countries, focusing especially on their respective dictatorships. Spending two months in each country, especially in two of the most vibrant metropolitan areas in the world, was a dream come true. I’ll be sharing my experiences in a future blog post – stay tuned!
In terms of transferring course credits, Berkeley-eligible classes are often listed in the program’s academic description. I would still suggest going over which courses you will enroll in abroad with an advisor to fulfill as many major or breadth requirements while abroad as possible. For more information on course cross listing, see UCEAP’s Major Preparation page. Personally, my program satisfied three upper division courses, practically serving as a semester on Berkeley’s campus. Not only do you get to have the experience of a lifetime with travel and living abroad, but you also are taking classes you needed in the first place!
Meeting with your academic advisor throughout the program selection and application process is instrumental to not only helping you find the right study abroad experience for you, but also to organize your time at Berkeley around this semester away from the Bay. Here are the subjects I personally discussed with my own advisor and would recommend talking to yours about!
- Program selection
- Application assistance
- Financial aid
- Course credit from abroad
- Medical clearance *
*Make sure to meet with your medical provider to discuss potential immunizations, international medication deliveries, global insurance coverage, psychological services, and anything else you may need while abroad!
UCEAP also offers peer, financial, and family advising to answer all questions regarding budget, experience, and overall support. You would be surprised to see how financially and logistically feasible taking a semester away from Berkeley’s campus truly is; financial aid and scholarships are available to many participants and can be directly applied to support your semester abroad. UCEAP and all of Berkeley’s study abroad options prioritize these programs’ accessibility for as much of the student body as possible. For further information on getting your study abroad process started, visit Berkeley Study Abroad.
Applications for study abroad are unique to each program. However, the application typically opens in October or November for the following year. The timeline is clearly listed on the Berkeley study abroad program listing as well. I studied abroad in the fall of 2022, so I began looking into my options during the summer and fall of 2019 to be on track with submitting my application that winter. Students typically study abroad in either the fall or spring semester of their junior year so I definitely recommend researching programs as soon as you can!
Some Words of Encouragement
I know studying abroad and its extensive preparation process is daunting, but I can assure you that UCEAP and Berkeley resources, advisors, and program options make the experience beyond worth it. In four months, I traveled all over five countries, met twenty-four of some of my favorite people, and gained some of the most valuable personal and professional experiences I could ever have hoped for. I can guarantee that you will love your time abroad, too!
Kelsey McIvor is a junior at UC Berkeley majoring in Global Studies and minoring in Spanish and Journalism.
- Learn more about Kelsey’s time abroad spending the summer with the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra.