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STARs

STARS are study abroad returnees who work as peer ambassadors and encourage prospective students to study abroad. STARS volunteer at Study Abroad, UC San Diego events, speak at presentations, and create their own methods of spreading the word about study abroad.

If you would like more information or would like to become a STAR, please contact Study Abroad, UC San Diego at abroad@ucsd.edu.


Meet the STARS:

Study Abroad Returnees in Asia

  • Rebecca Yarbrough

    Rebecca Yarbrough

    Home town: San Diego

    Study abroad Location/Program: I attended a Global Seminar in India where we visited Delhi, Dharamsala, and a small rural town called Byse

    Favorite place visited while abroad: My favorite place that I visited while in India was Dharamsala where our group got to experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of meeting the Dalai Lama in a small, close audience. He constantly laughed and stuck out his tongue; it was so funny! He was very easy-going and I couldn’t stop smiling around him. It was definitely the highlight of the trip.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Raita was my favorite food in India, which is a very common dish there. It was a thin yogurt sauce with veggies and spices in it. It reminded me of tzatziki sauce found in Greek food, except it was spicier, as is everything in India!

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: One silly thing that happened in India was when we visited these beautiful waterfalls called Jog Falls. The parking lot had tons of monkeys everywhere. One monkey was sitting on a motorcycle and all of a sudden started digging in a side-storage compartment and pulled out a cracker! I don’t know how he knew it was in there, but it didn’t look like it was his first time.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Using less resources is a big thing I took from India. In India, water is limited and you have to drink bottled water because the water out of the faucet is dirty. Seeing people living in extreme poverty makes you realize how rich we are in America, and how wasteful we can be. It has inspired me to do more to reduce waste and make other changes that can help combat climate change. I also appreciate the conveniences we are afforded here in America a thousand times more!

    Why others should go: It is eye-opening, humbling, and it really teaches you to appreciate the comforts of home. It’s an experience you will never forget, with people who will always share that experience with you. All of the people who were in my group have since kept in touch via group chats, and have set up get-togethers. I see somebody from my group almost every day, and it has made me feel more connected to campus and the community.

    Ask me about India! ryarbrou@ucsd.edu

  • Mikayla Webster

    Mikayla Webster

    Home town: Aliso Viejo, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: Junior Year Program in English (JYPE), Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Osaka, Japan Favorite food eaten abroad: Inari zushi

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: In order to save money on a trip from Sendai (northern part of Japan) to Osaka (southern part), I spent a full day riding local trains from Sendai to Tokyo (I had ~6 train transfers), spent the night in a McDonalds, the spent another full day riding local trains fro Tokyo to Osaka. On the way home I did the same, except in Tokyo I spent the night in an internet cafe rather than a McDonalds.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: It is an integral part of Japanese culture to put the needs of others ahead of your own. In America, where individualism is strong, I did not see many examples of people being self-sacrificing simply for the sake of another. I hope to exemplify Japanese selflessness in America.

    Why others should go: If you are someone who is interested in going abroad, especially to a country so different from America as Japan, then you are a special type of person who loves cultural exchange! While living my normal life in UCSD, I was never able to meet people who shared my same interest in other cultures. In Japan, I met people from all over the world who are now my best friends because we all love language learning and cultural exchange. Since coming back home, I dream of when I get to live abroad again. I'm even planning on pursuing a Master's degree abroad, because the experience is so incredible! To live abroad for an extended period of time is a rare opportunity, so don't pass it up!

  • Nathan Cuenca

    Hometown: Sunnyvale, CA

    Study Abroad Location / Program: Seoul, Korea / UCEAP

    Favorite Place Visited While Abroad: Hongdae - great place for food, street vendors, nightlife, and street perfomances

    Favorite Food Eaten Abroad: Galbitang - a type of beef rib soup

    Silly Thing That Happened To You Abroad: The public transportation system in Korea uses a card that you charge and every time you scan it to get on the train/bus it deducts a certain amount. Well I went to purchase this card with a friend and she was doing all the Korean speaking. The vendor guy asked her if I was a kid and she said yes while making a face at me because I was only 18 and she was 21. Turns out the vendor gave me a kids card for the subway which gave me a pretty big discount on every ride. However, I found out a few weeks into the program that using a kid card as someone who is an adult is illegal so I had to buy a new card and I am super thankful I never got caught using the kid card.

    Something You Took From Being Abroad That You Now Do In The US: Being the one to cook when I go to KBBQ. As I mentioned earlier I was 18 when I went to study abroad when most people were 19-20 at least. In Korea, the youngest is supposed to cook the KBBQ and also give out drinks and utensils. I still do this in America not because I'm the youngest but because I cooked so much KBBQ in Korea I think I got pretty good at it whereas all my friends here overcook everything.

    Why Others Should Go: Traveling itself is just so much fun. There are so many things to do and to experience when you visit somewhere with a culture and history so different from where you're from. The benefit of studying abroad is that you get to travel and take classes so you get to get ahead in GE/major classes!

    Ask me about Korea! ncuenca@ucsd.edu

  • Rachel (Xiner) Lee

    Rachel (Xiner) Lee

    Home town: Foshan,China

    Study abroad Location/Program: Korea, UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Gangnam! There are so many cute cafe there. You can basically sit there and take photos for the whole day. Actually all the cafe in Korea is so cute and there are many cafes in the streets.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Budae-jjigae, roast beef intestine, Ishinabe Bibinba, snowflake

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I was lost in the Seoul subway. I can say that Korean subway is one of the most complicated subway system I have ever seen. It also means that it would be so convenient to go anywhere by the subway. And there is no uber in Korea! In Korea uber is illegal but luckily there are many taxis around. So you don't need to worry about how can you go home after party on the weekends lol

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I could say is Korean makeup. In Korea you literally could not see any Korean girls without makeup. They all look cute. I have realized that I should not only wear T-shirts and leggings every day. 

    Why others should go: Being back to US I miss Korea a lot. I miss the street food, the city crowds and all the fantastic summer stuffs in Seoul. Studying abroad is more like a precious gift than a challenge. I met many friends from all over the world and listened to their stories. I am still keeping in touch with them and hope to visit them one day. In addition I can also take the course that is not available in UCSD. It is a pretty good chance for me to broaden my perspective. I personally took the introduction to investment course. It totally motivated me to work in that field in the future because it is the first time for me to know about the technical knowledge to value a company and stock. So why not study abroad? You would probably meet something unexpected and something that would change you life!

     

  • Saloni Dalal

    Saloni Dalal

    Home town: Irvine, CA

    Study abroad location/program: UCEAP; Seoul, South Korea

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Hiking at Seoraksan National Park

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Sundubu-Jjigae, Kimbap, Hotteok

    Silly thing that happened abroad: I decided to go on an impromptu hiking trip outside of Seoul over the weekend with a couple of people. We didn't have anything planned--we were just going to wing it, for the most part. We got to the train station late, so two people went to talk to the ticketing counter and two people went down to (try) to hold the train. Obviously, those who were fluent in Korean were speaking to the attendants and the non-Korean speakers went downstairs. In the end, the two fluent Korean speakers somehow ended up on the train...and I (and my friend) did not. Our wifi also decided to stop working, so it was just me and my friend, stranded in a train station with our backpacks and no cell service. With some broken Korean and a ton of luck, we ended up getting on the next train. Would definitely do it again.

    Something I still do in the US: Since I was the youngest of my group of friends in Korea, they teased me into handing out utensils and pouring drinks for them, which is customary in Korean culture. For some reason, I still do it in the US.

    Why others should go: Studying abroad was undoubtedly the most exciting and amazing experience I have ever had in my life. Every day was a new adventure. Study abroad allowed me to satisfy my major requirements while still experiencing so many news things--culture, social customs, foods, nature--that I could never do if I had simply stayed on campus.

  • Marcus (Zhaoyi) Huang

    Marcus (Zhaoyi) Huang

    Home town: Shenzhen, China

    Study abroad Location/Program: Tokyo, Japan, Global Seminar

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Ueno park in Tokyo( Several great museums around this area, love to visit!)

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Ramen from a small restaurant called “Kagari” in Ginza, Tokyo.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: Went a totally different direction trying to find the right exit in Shinjuku metro station for 15 minutes even with google map open.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Watching new anime weekly if there is a new episode. Start ordering tea in Starbucks

    Why others should go: Attending global seminar is not only about just completing a GE or earning credits while traveling abroad. It offers a whole new perspective about even something you familiar. The global seminar I attended is about anime and the relationship between technology and culture. As someone in engineering familiar with anime, I still found a lot of topics new to me. We discussed a lot about classic anime like “Astro boy” and “Ghost in the shell” rather than the new ones after millennium but these old things offered a lot to me like the different thinking about the relationship between machine and human and Japanese philosophy implied by these works. Also, visiting Japan in summer is also a great thing. Fireworks display occurs around Tokyo, Osaka and many other cities. If you are anime lover, comic market and “Animelo Summer Live” is at that time. There are other fun things you can do in Japan so don’t miss the chance!

    Ask me about Japan and East Asia! zhh083@ucsd.edu

  • Karina Lee Feng

    Karina Lee Feng

    Home town: Caracas, Venezuela

    Study abroad Location/Program: Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong / OAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Tian Tan Buddha. Ocean Park, which is an animal based theme park in Hong Kong; It was an incredible experience because I was not only able to ride roller coasters, enjoy the shows and see different types of creatures, but I was also able to see pandas which was very special to me. I also visited Tsim Sha Tsui which has a ferry pier where people can take ferries to different islands in Hong Kong. At night, Tsim Sha Tsui is a very beautiful place because people can enjoy the view of the lighting from the skyline from one island to the other island; this is a very beautiful spot for pictures. Additionally, there are a lot of little band groups that would come out at night and perform at Tsim Sha Tsui. Lady market is a place where tourists can find a lot of cheap souvenirs such as keychains, chopsticks and many others. Mong Kok is another beautiful place. On Saturday, there is one street in Mong Kok that is blocked for bands to perform.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: egg tarts, egg puffs, dim sum, Hong Kong style milk tea, fish balls, tofu stick, fish cake stuffed pepper, mooncake.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: Personally, I am very into Hong Kong celebrities and there was one day where two of my favourite Hongkongese actors and  actresses were going to have an event in a mall and I literally went to the mall and waited for 2 hours for them to show up for the event. At the end, I was able to take a selfie with both of them which made me very happy.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Before studying abroad, I used to like Thai tea a lot. However, when I went to Hong Kong, I started trying a lot of milk tea that I became very interested in it and I would normally order milk tea every single time when I went to a boba shop with my friends in Hong Kong. After coming back to San Diego, I would still order milk tea instead of Thai tea because I feel that milk tea is less sugary than Thai tea.

    Why others should go: Studying abroad is a great opportunity for people to get to know a country and its culture. By studying there, I could basically experience everything that a Hongkongese college student would experience, such as eating in the canteen, exploring the city with the public transportation, going to the market to buy food, and many others. Experiencing the daily life of people in Hong Kong helped me to understand more about their culture. Going abroad is also a good opportunity for people to learn or improve a language. I personally knew Cantonese because of my parents, but after this trip, I feel that I learned much more Hongkongese slang and vocabulary because of the local friends that I met in Hong Kong and my daily life communication with local people.

    Ask me about Hong Kong: kleefeng@ucsd.edu

  • Daniel Cheah

    Daniel Cheah

    Home town: Aliso Viejo, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: Osaka, Japan/UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Mt. Fuji

    Favorite food eaten abroad: wagyu steak

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: When I first came to Japan, my lab colleagues explained to me that foreigners like myself have "gaijin power" or "foreigner power." Essentially, foreigners get a pass on following traditional Japanese customs. As first, I was not entirely convinced until I experienced it firsthand. In Japan, it is customary to not eat or drink on the trains out of respect. However, before I knew this, I started eating an onigiri and noticed many others giving me looks. I turned to my friend and started talking in English, and I could see the others on the train sort of nod and went back to their business because they had realized I was a foreigner.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: When I first came back to the United States, I had already gotten in the habit of bowing after every interaction that I bowed to the customs agent at LAX after he said: "Welcome home."

    Why others should go: Studying abroad truly immersed me in the culture of Japan. I believe there is a strong difference between traveling and studying in a foreign country. Studying allows you to experience day to day life because of the interactions you have with the local people and you must assimilate into a new society. Additionally, studying abroad gives you a new perspective on lives outside of the United States and how different each culture is around the world.

    Ask me about Japan: dscheah@ucsd.edu

     

  • Winnie Shi

    Winnie Shi

    Home town: Arcadia, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: Osaka, Japan/ UCEAP Summer Research Program at Osaka University

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Any Supermarket! and Awaji Island. 

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Okonomiyaki and traditionally flavored kakigori. 

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: Got lost in a residential area on the second day when taking the bus. Thank goodness the bus stop was close to the monorail station and the residential area was close to a large street. 

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Looking at the time again without my phone and trying my best to stay on time. 

    Why others should go: To see the world and realize there is more than one way to live!

    Ask me about Japan! whshi@ucsd.edu

  • Sophie Osborn

    Sophie Osborn

    Home town: Sacramento, California

    Study abroad Location/Program: Tokyo, Japan, UCEAP Year program at Waseda University

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Thailand

    Favorite food eaten abroad: crocodile curry in Cambodia (though of course all of the food in Japan was delicious!)

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I met up in Tokyo with a Japanese friend who had come on an exchange to UCSD, and when I saw him outside of Shinjuku station I came up and gave him a big hug. Of course I'd forgotten that hugs, especially between men and women in public are not an acceptable form of greeting in Japan. My friend looked very embarrassed and pulled away quickly, saying that Japanese don't behave the same way Americans do, so we did the greeting all over again with a handshake.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: wanting to bow when meeting someone higher up than myself. For example, when interacting with my boss in Japan at my internship, bowing was just part of the process, but when I met my boss at my job on the UCSD campus here, I had to stop myself from bowing and felt really weird not knowing what to do instead.

    Why others should go: The things outside of the classroom that you learn while you're abroad are things you are only able to learn in an experience like this. You learn how to travel on your own, you learn how to communicate across  language barriers, and you learn to think outside the boundaries of your home culture.

    Ask me about Japan! slosborn@ucsd.edu

  • Melissa Supsup

    Melissa Supsup

    Home town: Pacifica, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: Seoul, South Korea (Summer 2015 - OAP and Summer 2017 - EAP and Hyundai Corp. Internship)

    Favorite place visited while abroad: My favorite place I visited was Jeonju. During my junior year in high school, I went to Korea for volunteer work and I spent a couple of weeks at Jeonju with my homestay family. I was able to visit them again this past summer and I love that I was able to go back and experience it again.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Raw Octopus at Busan, South Korea

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: During my first day of internship at Hyundai Corporation, I walked into the wrong office to meet my supervisor and ended up talking to the Vice President of my department instead. Even though it was silly, I was told I left quite an impression and I was his favorite intern to ever enter his company. (HAHA) 

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Through my study abroad and internship experiences, I learned that I've become a lot more open-minded, understanding, and adventurous. I realized that the rest of the world has a lot more to offer and I will always have space for growth no matter what; hence, traveling is the greatest way to develop and become a better version of myself. 

    Why others should go: Although some might fear having to go somewhere unfamiliar, I believe studying abroad is something all students should experience. Not only do you learn a lot about the culture, language, and other people, but you also gain a better understand of who you are as a person. Even though I've already experienced it twice, I still plan on studying abroad for the third time next year. It's an experience I'll always treasure.

  • Stefani Yamasaki

    Stefani Yamasaki

    Home town: Torrance, CA (Los Angeles, CA)

    Study abroad Location/Program: Tokyo, Japan/ Global Seminar

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Travelling to different parts of metropolis Japan definitely left me in awe, but aside from the tech-savvy city life, my favorite place that I visited in Japan was Hiroshima. My family left their home in Hiroshima to move to the United States, so visiting the land that my relatives called home allowed me to reconnect with my past. Further, our group happened to be in Hiroshima on the 71st anniversary of the atomic bombing, so we got to witness the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony live. This made the weekend trip to Hiroshima even more emotionally moving, especially on my behalf.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: I cannot remember having a bad meal while abroad in Japan. Of course their basic foods like ramen, udon, and soba were of excellent. But Japan managed to surprise me with one of the most delicious yet less-famous dishes I have ever had—beef katsu. Being of Japanese ethnicity, I have had katsu (fried meat) several times before in the U.S., but nothing compares to beef katsu in Japan. I got to cook my beef just how I like it on my own personal frying stone, which made the dish even more memorable.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: During the middle of a rainstorm, my friend’s poncho of flipped inside out and hit me in the face. We already couldn’t see very well with the constant rain and wind, so my friend thought I disappeared. In reality, my upper half just got ‘swallowed’ by their poncho sleeve. As a result, I got a nice extra mouthful of rain water.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: On the Japanese subway system, passengers would not talk on the phone, play music out loud, or eat messy/smelly foods while aboard, out of courtesy for other passengers. Everybody kept to themselves in a private and polite matter, which I found very respectable. Now, when I use public transportation in the U.S., I refrain from talking on the phone and in general try to keep to myself.

    Why others should go: Not only is studying abroad is a fairly new commodity that our generation has been gifted with, UCSD is one of the best schools in the study abroad field, offering multiple types of programs all over the world. College is a time to be adventurous and nothing is more adventurous than travelling across international borders into a world unknown, (and getting college credits too!). Studying abroad opens minds to a global perspective on society, and it’s truly fascinating to experience life outside of the borders one has grown up in. In particular, studying abroad in Japan has shown me what life is like in another highly-developed first world country besides the United States. Further, it was interesting to experience first-hand the modern Japanese culture that has been intertwined with ancient traditions. The food is great. The sights are stunning. And the whole experience is breathtaking. It’s virtually impossible put into words the amazement associated with studying abroad, so I highly recommend going abroad to witness the wonderment yourself. 

  • Daisy Velasco

    Daisy Velasco

    Home town: Huntington Park, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: Seoul, South Korea/Global Seminar Favorite place visited while abroad: Myeongdong and Gangnam were the most interesting to me for their architectural appeal and the vibe of each area.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: I'll stay local, and say that the best food was the seafood pot meal at one of the restaurants at Gwangjin. I also really enjoyed Jilhal Bros. located across the street from JYP Entertainment.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I had the best time of my life at kiddie rides at the Korean Folk Village amusement park for some odd reason.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I think about doing more and not sticking to routine. In Los Angeles and in San Diego, I tend to do the same things over and over again. I'm usually someone who hates routine, so being stuck in one doesn't particularly make me happy. While I was in Seoul, I think I broke out of my shell of this routine and tried something new each day, even the ones I was swamped with school work. I've noticed that I am more vocal about my wishes and not afraid of trying new things. It's become evident in my need to be alone and try things by myself. The first thing I did when I returned to Los Angeles was spent my entire week going to parts of the city I'd never been to by myself using public transportation.

    Why others should go: Beyond the glamorous face of its international pop culture, Koreans have historically suffered a lot. Their struggles of the past few decades are reflected in the society they currently perpetuate. Yet, their people continue to strive for a better future, a future that entails improvement on all fronts. Seoul is the metropolis, the heart, of this country and is evidence of this transition. If you study here, you will become engrossed in the country's culture, people, and find yourself quickly declaring it your second home.

  • Lauren L'Heureux

    Lauren L'Heureux

    Home town: Phoenix, AZ

    Study abroad Location/Program: Osaka, Japan. UCEAP J-Ship Program

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Hiroshima

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Sashimi

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: A deer in Nara was trying to get my attention because I had food so it pulled my skirt and I squealed out of surprise. All of the Japanese tourists and natives around me got a good laugh from it and so did my classmates. It was totally worth it though since the deer were adorable.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I can now wield chopsticks without dropping them and can do several cool yo-yo tricks.

    Why others should go: Studying abroad in general is such unique opportunity and I found that Japan has one of the most unique and inclusive cultures. The way people interact and the importance of the community in the reason it is one of the safest countries on the planet. 

    Contact me about Japan: llheureu@ucsd.edu

  • Elizabeth Pang

    Elizabeth Pang

    Hometown: Chino Hills, CA

    Study abroad location: Tokyo, Japan/Global Seminar

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Hiroshima. Our class visit was centered around the weekend of the 71st anniversary of the atomic bomb. Even though I am Taiwanese-American and have no personal connection to Japan, the peace ceremony left a deep impression on me. I gained a better perspective as to how that event was memorialized for the Japanese people, and especially for those whose family members were affected.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Besides beef katsu, I made homemade takoyaki, or octopus fried in balls of batter, with a few classmates and a friend of mine. There's a lot of places to eat takoyaki in Japan, from chain stores to shops that specialize in a certain kind of takoyaki, but homemade takoyaki was certainly the best.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I fell asleep on the subway train and I missed my stop. However, when I got off and tried to backtrack, I fell asleep and missed my stop again. This happened again for a third time, so now I can proudly tell folks back home that I missed a subway stop three times in a row.

    Something you took from being abroad: Despite depictions of Tokyo as a crowded, bustling metropolis, there were still moments where I felt at ease, such as watching the lotuses close at Ueno Park or taking a train ride around the Yamanote Loop. As much as I want to get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible at home, I've been trying to slow down a little bit and enjoy simple things more.

    Why others should go: Beyond reasons such as adventure, opportunities for academic and personal growth, and completing GEs, studying abroad has the advantage of a safety bubble. While I am personally a more independent traveler, I think it can be intimidating at times to travel to a foreign country, especially for those who have never traveled outside the US. With classmates, there's an outlet for processing information related to the host culture and whatever interactions you have with it. Safety bubbles do have the potential of becoming a trap, but I think it's important to have the option of a comfort zone. I definitely felt some culture shock during my first week in Japan, but with the help of good company, it didn't last as long as I thought it would.

Study Abroad Returnees in Europe

  • Anika Balse

    Anika Balse

    Home town: Fremont, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: Granada, Spain, Global Seminar

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Chefchaouen, Morocco

    Favorite food eaten abroad: polpo y patatas (octopus dish in Malaga)

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: Portugal won the EuroCup while I was in Spain, and some Portuguese students were staying in the same student hostel as us, so we ran through Granada singing "Portugalale!" and jumped in the fountain in the town center to celebrate

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: The laidback, more eased culture in Spain. I am still always running around but I have to remind myself to just appreciate what I am doing at the moment, and take more time for my friends and myself.

    Why others should go: to expand your perception of different cultures, human interaction, your palate, and learn more about yourself

    Ask me about Spain! abalse@ucsd.edu

  • Garielle Sinclair

    Garielle Sinclair

    Home town: Kingston, Jamaica

    Study abroad Location/Program: OAP Barcelona, Spain

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Interlaken, Switzerland

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Goulash in Prague!

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: While in Switzerland, I decided to snowboard the Swiss Alps! However, I think I underestimated the difficulty of the Alps, and I also had not snowboarded in about 6/7 years, so that led to me frequently rolling down most of the mountains on my side. The lifts had just opened for the first time for the season that weekend, and so often times I was by myself just sitting on my butt looking around, needing some time to recuperate before I attempted to snowboard again. Despite this, it was still so much fun! All the time I spent sitting down, watching people fly by me, allowed me to really take in the absolute beauty of the mountains all around me. It was snowing originally and that made things even more difficult (yikes!) but once it stopped and the sun came out, the breathtaking views were sights that I am sure I will never forget!

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Since I decided to go abroad by myself, as apposed to going with friends, it really forced me to branch out and meet more people but it also made me appreciate exploring and being adventurous on my own! I think that since I would often go off on my own and really go to places that I liked, I tend to not mind doing my own thing while here in San Diego too.

    Why others should go: I think it's so important to experience life in a way that's different from what you are used to. I'm already an international student here at UCSD, and it still amazed me so much to see how much culture and different lifestyles are out there for us to learn from and appreciate.

    Ask me about Spain! gsinclai@ucsd.edu

  • Melissa Linenberger

    Melissa Linenberger

    Home town: Sacramento, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: Berlin, Germany/UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Other than Berlin itself, Copenhagen was my favorite place I visited while abroad. The program I was in took us on a week-long excursion to Hamburg and then Copenhagen and I completely fell in love with Copenhagen. It is such an interesting, beautiful, and friendly place with lots of cute coffee shops and boutique stores. My favorite memory in Copenhagen was renting bikes from our Hostel and biking all around Copenhagen with my friends- I felt like a true Copenhagener!

    Favorite food eaten abroad: I absolutely loved German currywurst with french fries! It is a Berlin specialty and sold on nearly every street corner. When I go back to Berlin some day, it is going to be the very first thing I eat!

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I lived with a host family while I was in Berlin, which was a great experience, but it also lead to some silly/interesting adventures. There were a few occasions where my host family cooked a dinner that I just really didn't like, so after everyone went to bed I went to the McDonalds next door and got some comfort food. Another silly memory I have is riding scooters through Berlin with my 11 year old host sister.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I tend to eat dinner a lot latter now, as my host family used to eat dinner right before bed. I also picked up a love for orderliness and timeliness, which is prevalent in German culture.

    Why others should go: Not only is studying abroad fun and exciting, it also challenges you to change your world view, embrace new cultures, and become a more independent person. I think everyone should study abroad in college, as it gives you a chance to grow and experience new things at pivotal time in your life. A lot of my study abroad experiences have shaped me into the person I am today.

    Ask me about Germany! mlbergs@hotmail.com

     

  • David Zhu

    David Zhu

    Hometown: Alhambra, California

    Study abroad Location/Program: Berlin, Germany/Global Seminar 

    Favorite place visited while abroad: A difficult pick between Berlin and Prague, but I had to go with the latter. In contrast to Bering's more modernistic vibe, the atmosphere of Prague's old town center is dearing to me. I was instantly captivated by the historical architecture and art style that dotted the city landscape. The visit to St.Vitus Cathedral alone was well worth the trip, and it is breathtaking to see the city atop the royal palace. 

    Favorite food eaten abroad: A pasta dish I had while in Prague. It was a small cafe near the AirBnB we stayed in. My friend Hope recommended the place since she was in Prague a few years ago. I forgot the name of the actual dish, but it was Linguine pasta toped with creamy tomato sauce. The dish was especially tasty, as it was my first meal after the long bus ride to Prague.  

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I was not ready for the amount of places that did not accept credit cards. I didn't bring enough dollars to last me the whole month, so I had to dine with a few friends in places that did accept cards and pay for the meal in exchange for some Euros. 

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: A peanut eraser as a gag gift for my nut-allergic friend. Some postcards featuring the places I visited. And boxes of chocolate for friend and family. 

    Why others should go: It is indeed a life-changing experience. Not so much of where you go and what you learn, but the people you meet and connections you made. Being able to take a college-level course in a small class is a blessing to those in public universities. You get to learn so much about your peers and form deep, personal connections with them. On top of that, you interact with the professor on a daily basis, outside of the regular class setting. This allows you to know the professor more thoroughly. For me, the most valuable experience is the revelation of my own identity. Through the people I encountered during this trip, I was able to better understand myself and who I am as a person and a student. I could not guarantee that this is the case for everyone else in the class, but it is safe to assume they all had a great time. 

    Ask me about Germany! daz048@ucsd.edu

  • Rosalynn Lozano

    Rosalynn Lozano

     

    Home town: Mendota, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: Madrid, Spain UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Amsterdam. The city brought endless opportunity to not only learn about the Dutch culture but about the Moroccan population that settled in the Netherlands. The Dutch Moroccan fusion was interesting to see. The different variety of food, easy transportation system, and weather all contributed to the experience. Needless to say the history speaks for itself. Visiting the Anne Frank House was, by far, the best experience I had while abroad. The city had a carnival in the center, Dutch candy, and countless key chains at my disposal.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: With a limited amount of money to spend, I made my own meals daily, but I did indulge in a variety of foods while visiting other countries. My favorite food in Spain was Tortilla de Patata, which was a thick egg, potato omelet with a slice of baguette. While in Morocco the cous-cous with vegetables was to die for, not literally, but I would go back to eat it again. While in Italy the Gelato was a once in a lifetime opportunity to eat  who can go wrong with something similar to ice cream, but better!

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: Visiting a local park in Madrid, Retiro Park, a few friends and I decided to take a boat ride. This park was known to have boats to rent. This was the best and worst idea we had. We had to row our own boat, which we had no idea how to do but the mere hand motions a worker gave us. There we were, rowing, on our own, spinning in circles, trying to steer near the fountain to take photos near the monument. Looking around to see the rest of the people rowing perfectly, while 3 of us couldn’t figure out how to move the boat in a straight line. There were others riding boats, others watching from the steps leading to the monument with huge fountains pouring into the lake. The closer we got to the fountains the more we tried to steer away. We could not get the boat to move in any direction, instead we went in a circle. The boat spun closer to the fountain, the next thing I knew my back was to the fountain with water spewing all over me. I was drenched and in complete humility. The spectacle of people watched, took photos, and frankly had the best show of their day.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: While abroad I learned how to look for flights, be frugal with my money, and not rely on technology. If I learned anything from being abroad it would be the only real friends you have will follow you after the experience. The one thing I took from being abroad is that nobody knows me. I could be whoever I wanted, and leave any mistakes I made in the past. I use this same mentality in the U.S, because I should be free to do anything I want without doubt or fear.

    Why others should go: Studying abroad is an experience, but I think it is what you make of it. Go to a country with no expectations, make friends, adapt to the new culture, do activities that you would never do in the U.S, and ultimately be whoever you want to be. Create memories, take lots of pictures, make mistakes, and eat whatever your heart desires, well that is if it fits your pocket book. Others should go abroad because it helps you grow as a person, you test your own personal limits, and the friendships made are everlasting. Observe, take in how other cultures live, and what they eat. Once you return home, you can see how very different your customs are to others around the world. Studying abroad brings confidence that you can fly alone, and be okay with it. It brings the ability to adapt to different living situations in the different countries you visit. It teaches you to be patient with not only the city you are in, but with yourself. Absorb the food, people, customs, those around you, because study abroad is a once in a lifetime experience for those, like me, who would never afford to study abroad.

    Ask me about Spain! rlozano@ucsd.edu

  • Ben Cauffman

    Ben Cauffman

    Home town: Whittier, California

    Study abroad Location/Program: Berlin, Germany, UCEAP Year Long immersion

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Hamburg, Germany followed closely by Brussels, Belgium

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Käsespätzle!!!! (basically just this amazing German Mac and Cheese with grilled onions)

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I went on a 7-day hiking trip in Switzerland with my guest brother, but we only packed and planned for about 3.5 days of the trip (not a recommendation). No one spoke English because it was in rural Switzerland so I had to use my German to improvise half of the trip and try to understand the immensely different-sounding Swiss accent. We ended up sleeping on straw beds in barns for 5 out of the 7 nights. It was the most memorable/terrifying 7 days of my life.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Something I learned about Germany that I didn’t know before is how actively they think about individually contributing to helping the environment and being green. My guest family actually grew their own vegetables in their garden and chose to eat vegetarian most days of the week. Since coming back I have tried to implement these habits I developed into my American lifestyle. It is admittedly difficult to continue certain habits against a much different cultural backdrop, but I consider it part of my identity as much as anything else now and have tried for example to eat vegetarian 2-3 times a week and limit my carbon footprint as much as possible.

    Why others should go: Studying abroad is one of the most empowering things you can do as a college student. It will initially be scary and intimidating, and you might doubt (as I did throughout the process) your ability to succeed in a completely new school, language, and culture. But I guarantee you, if you keep an open mind, embrace the absurdity, and let yourself fall on your face a little, it will be the most rewarding and liberating experiences you will have in college. You will meet new people from all around the world, who share a bit of that wanderlust that you have by deciding to study abroad.

    I should also mention that you have one of the greatest support systems that catch you if anything happens in the UCEAP team. Take the jump and know that you will have someone to catch you.

    Ask me about Germany! benjamincauffman@gmail.com

  • Ananya Rai

    Ananya Rai

    Hometown: Varanasi, India

    Study abroad Location/ Program: LSE Summer School session 1+2 in London, UK, UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: There are so many interesting things to do in London but Southbank was by far the one I visited most. Southbank is by river Thames and is at the heart of London’s cultural scene. It is a fun area because there is a lot of good food, a lot of events and great views. There is also a point where you can make out the two sides to London, one with old Victorian architecture and the other with modern skyscrapers.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Fish and chips (this staple English dish is actually very delicious), Mexican food at Wahacas on Southbank (surprisingly, it turned out to be really good).

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: One silly thing that happened to me while I was abroad was that I got into the wrong train on my way back from class. Ended up going to a completely different place. It was nerve wracking then because I was completely lost, but looking back at it makes me laugh. Plus, I got to explore another area of the city.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Summer abroad goes by so fast, especially when you are in a new place. I really had to balance fun and school work. I spent a lot of my freshman year staying in and did not explore San Diego as much as I should have. I feel like my summer abroad compelled me to think about how things outside of school are also important and how much different experiences can add to your life.

    Why others should go: When I decided to go for study abroad, I did it because I enjoy travelling a lot and being able to do something productive over the summer seemed like a good idea. However, I did not anticipate how amazing the experience was going to turn out to be. Being in a new place compels you to open yourself up to a different way of life. You’d be surprised to see how diverse the world really is. You get to explore a new place, you get to know new people and you get to immerse yourself in a new culture. The experience makes you grow as a person and gain more perspective. And as a bonus, you get to check off that place from your travel bucket list.

    Ask me about England! a4rai@ucsd.edu

  • Elizabeth Bottenberg

    Elizabeth Bottenberg

    Home town: San Diego, California

    Study abroad Location/Program: Rome, Italy / Global Seminar

    Favorite place visited while abroad: While I mainly stayed in Rome during my time abroad, I was fortunate enough to visit Venice, Florence, Positano (Amalfi Coast), and Sorrento. My favorite place I visited was Florence. In such a small city, there is immeasurable culture, art, inspiration, and friendship. I loved Florence the most because there was an underlying friendship between everyone that was there. From the restaurant owner to the people I conversed with so that I could practice Italian, everyone was so warm and inviting. I’ll never forget watching the sunset on the steps of the Michelangelo piazza, and as the final lip of the sun dipped below the horizon, everyone clapped. It made me appreciate all the art I saw during my trip, even those that I take for granted, even more.

    Favorite food eaten abroad:  My favorite meal and the one I crave most now that I am back in the US is soft bowtie pasta with a blend of mozzarella and other cheeses, tomatoes, some spices, and a glass of Chianti wine. I never forgot to have blueberry cheesecake gelato for dessert!!

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: During a group meal, we had this amazing sauce prepared with our main course, veal. I loved it so much that I tried to ask the server what was in it. There was a language barrier, and all I could really say to the server about the sauce was “I love this so much!” enthusiastically. The server smiled at me, and a couple minutes later, he came back with a huge pitcher of sauce just for me. There was no way I could have all the sauce for myself, and I shared it with our whole group. The server and I even have a picture together with the pitcher!  

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I drink cappuccinos and cornettos (croissants) nearly every day for breakfast. That is the usual Italian breakfast and I fell in love with it. I also have kept the habit of drinking a lot more water. In Rome there are water fountains everywhere that connect to the original aqueducts made in the 1200’s. I always felt pretty sophisticated that I was drinking the water of the Romans.

    Why others should go: Study abroad is the epitome of learning about the world and synthesizing everything you see into your own perspective. I’ve always heard that people don’t like school but they love to learn. I found study abroad to be the perfect avenue for myself to be to experience organic learning. I also loved my global seminar because I always felt safe. Of course, I was nervous to be by myself in a foreign country, and yet, I had 25 other UCSD students and a professor to support me through every high and low I had. I’ll never forget the friendships that I made. Study abroad has been the best thing I have ever done for my college career and my personal growth. I’ve never felt more tested in my life nor felt myself expand so much as person at only 19 years old.  

    Ask me about Italy! ebottenb@ucsd.edu

  • Sriya Podila

    Sriya Podila

    Home town: Dublin, California

    Study abroad Location/Program: Brighton, England, United Kingdom/UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Paris. We only had two days in France, and none of us had a working cell phone or spoke even a little bit of French, but it was easily the best two days of my life! We strolled along the Champs-Élysées, visited the local farmers markets of Versailles, ate amazing pastries and fresh cheese and even some snails, and the entire time, we successfully used the Eiffel Tower and the Seine River as landmarks to find our way through the city without getting lost! Who needs Google Maps when you've got the Eiffel Tower?

    Favorite food eaten abroad: I went to Harrods for some fancy afternoon tea, and had the best tea ever. It was paired with these adorable mini-sandwiches and sweets, some of which were plated with edible gold. Let's just say that it did wonders for my ego. After Harrods, my second favorite food was the gelato at a small shop in Fiumicino, a quaint coastal town east of Rome, Italy. Apparently, it only costs 2.50 euro to change your entire life.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: We travelled to Rome in between our classes, but our flight back to the UK got cancelled, so naturally, we decided to use the extra day as an excuse to have a beach day! We took a bus to a small town off the coast and spent the entire day lounging at the sea with some gelato. But we took the wrong bus back, since we can't speak Italian either, and ended up horribly lost, just marching down a tiny highway miles from the airport in 100 degree weather for hours, wincing every time a car races just inches away from us. Thankfully, our phones took pity on us and gave us enough of a signal to quickly call an Uber and make it back just in time! 

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Everyone in England has so much style, so now, I also dress to impress (or at least try to).

    Why others should go: It's so easy to get caught up in work and school and the competitive nature of UCSD, but studying abroad is such a good opportunity to learn that there is so much to life than that. Interacting with people from different countries, different cultures, different languages, different everything - it's almost therapeutic because you start to realize how beautiful the world can be. So if you ever have the chance to go, please seize it.

    Ask me about England! spanchag@ucsd.edu

  • Dulce Ramirez Lemus

    Dulce Ramirez Lemus

    Home town: San Diego, California 

    Study abroad Location/Program: Berlin, Germany/ Global Seminars 

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Prague, Czech Republic. 

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Not exactly a food but the chimney cakes filled with vanilla ice cream from Prague were my favorite dessert!   

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: The majority of the public transportation buses in Berlin were double decker buses. One day as I was on the bus sitting on the top level of the bus, the bus was nearing the stop I was going to get off at. Since I would see many other people go down to the bottom floor before the bus reached the next stop to avoid missing their stop, I decided to do the same as well. As I was halfway down the spiral stairs, the bus made a sudden stop and I ended up losing my balance and falling against the wall. I managed to grab onto the rail on the side of the stairs to avoid completely falling but everyone on the bottom level all gasped when they heard me hit the wall. Once the bus stopped at my stop a few seconds later, I rushed out of the bus since I was pretty embarrassed about it. After that incident I learned to time the stops better when going down the stairs. 

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I’ve started wearing black clothing more often since I’ve come back from Berlin. Wearing dark colors, especially black was a popular fashion style that I saw a lot which I really liked and it just stuck ever since.  

    Why others should go: Studying abroad was the best decision I ever made! Getting a taste of the different cultures I encountered during my travels in Europe left me only regretting not having been able to stay longer. It was an amazing experience and if you have the opportunity to study abroad, you should totally do it! I’m sure you’ll end up loving it too!  

    Ask me about Germany! duramire@ucsd.edu

     

  • Dora (Yeying) Huang

    Dora (Yeying) Huang

    Hometown: Jiaxing, China

    Study abroad Location/Program: Berlin, Global Seminar

    Favorite place visited while abroad: It is super hard to pick only one place as a favorite, so why not say two cities. I really enjoy the rich history and diversity in Berlin. At the same time, I am fascinated by art and fashion in Paris. Besides, the hidden spots in both cities makes me fell in love with culture and people. 

    Favorited food eaten abroad: You can never have enough pasta and gelato!!! After the program, I traveled around Italy for two weeks. Every time I ate, I felt in heaven. All the food was so good and fresh. Not going to lie, I definitely gained few pounds.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I have a well-known character: not good at directions. So it is not surprised that I got lost many many many times in Europe. Once my friend and I tried to take the metro to Tiergarten in Berlin, but we ended up spending half hour to find the right way. Eventually, we made it although it took us much longer than we thought. Similar things happened hundreds of times. But on the bright side, I got the chance to explore and know the cities more. And I found many cute and beautiful hidden places. Also I learned that finding the right way is not so hard. One thing you can do is get on a subway/metro, and pay attention to the first stop. If it matches with google map, you are on the right track.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: There is so much diversity in Europe. I was able to travel to a totally different country within few hours. I love visiting museums and palaces to know the history and development. At the same time, there are many modern art galleries spread around cities. I spent more time outside and explore. Everything is new and exciting.

    Why others should go: Studying abroad, especially in Berlin, is so different and unique. The city is full of controversy and changed dramatically in the past decades. I learned much more than textbook and actually remember the knowledge. Moreover, I met so many young people and saw different lifestyle and perspective of our generation in a global setting. Studying abroad is a life-changing experience, and honestly, I could not ask for a better time in Europe.

    Ask me about Berlin! yeh020@ucsd.edu

  • Chuyue Zhang

    Chuyue Zhang

    Home town: Zibo, Shandong, China

    Study abroad Location/Program: Revelle in Rome(Rome Italy)/ Global Seminar

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Definitely Rome! It is a city that only takes 3 seconds to fall in love with and a place that was home to all of us for five weeks. Rome itself treasure all of its cultural legacies and therefore has so many places that keep bringing me back over and over again. I love the serenity and luxurious decorations of the ancient churches, the majestic ruins of Caesar's Forum, the hustle and bustle of city life near the Spanish Steps, and of course, millions of delicate gelaterias that can cool you down after any hot long day.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Buffalo Mozzarella. Those delicious oval mozzarella balls are made fresh and are usually sealed in plastic bags with milk before sold. They were so accessible and tasty that I ended up storing them in our fridge and have them as breakfast for dinner every day with a few drizzles of grape vinegar.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: The first morning after we arrived, I went down to the hotel lobby to get breakfast. Amazed by the fancy coffee machine, I tried to create my own Italian Caffe Latte with 1 press of expresso and two button presses of milk but ended up getting Americano. I was almost ready to embrace my first excentric cultural until the waitress told somebody simply just filled the milk tank with water.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I stop buying lunch and dinner on campus every day as I used to do. Instead, I always prepare 10 meals on Sunday night for the upcoming week with fresh and nutritious ingredients. Five weeks in Italy not only made me a person with more classic taste but also proved one thing: You are what you eat.

    Why others should go: Almost every piece of cliched but simple advice you received in your life can find its proof in Italy. It is a unique opportunity to discover who you are by simply immersing yourself in Italy, especially in the imaginary world of ancient Rome. You find your favorite books, plays, and heroes, discover your preference for architecture, literature, and food, and also redefine yourself by continuously creating unique memories that connect you with this foreign country. It's just something I will probably not experience again while in college, and I am really glad that I made the decision that eventually changed me greatly.

    Ask me about Italy! sophiepokke@gmail.com
  • Esther Chau

    Esther Chau

    Hometown: Pasadena, CA

    Study Abroad Location/Program: Madrid, Spain/OAP; Berlin, Germany/Global Seminar

    Favorite place visited while abroad: One of my favorite places in Spain was the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona because of how stunning it was, inside and out. In Germany, my favorite place was this style and culture festival that I went to with my friends called Bread & Butter by Zalando.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: In Madrid, I had these amazing churros with chocolate. They weren’t like the ones I’d eaten before where they were either covered in cinnamon and sugar or had a filling inside. Instead, they were served plain with a cup of thick and creamy chocolate that you could dip them into (or drink, I guess). 10/10 would recommend!

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: One day, when I was waiting for the subway, a few American tourists came up to me and asked me for directions in Spanish. At the time, I had only been in Madrid for a week or two so the city was still quite foreign to me, and on top of that, I didn’t speak much Spanish. Confused by why they had the impression that I spoke the language and knew the city, I stood there with a puzzled look on my face. The girls then turned to each other and started speaking English. Since I could now understand exactly what they were saying, I found out that, apparently, they thought I didn’t speak any English and were embarrassed that I didn’t understand their Spanish. Looking back, I probably should have said something but I suppose I was so surprised and confused that I blanked out for a minute.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I’ve always been into tea, but now, I always try to have a cup of (preferably) English Breakfast Tea in the morning. While I didn’t study abroad in the UK, I made quite a few British friends when I was abroad and I suppose they influenced me in that way.

    Why others should go: Wow, there are so many reasons why you should go abroad! The food you’ll eat, the culture you’ll experience, and the people you’ll meet will likely be different from what you’re accustomed to and thus will help broaden your worldview. I personally think Europe is a great choice because it’s rich in culture and history. Every city or country has its own charm and gives off a different vibe. You can also easily travel from country to country and experience a variety of cultures since everything in Europe is so close together. And throughout this fun experience, some of the most valuable lessons you will learn will be about the world and about yourself.

    Ask me about Spain and Germany! wechau@ucsd.edu

  • Thomas Albright

    Thomas Albright

    Home town: Long Beach California

    Study abroad Location/Program: Berlin, Germany Global Seminar

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Italy ( specifically Florence)

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Indonesian Rice table

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I didn’t know how to get to the botanical garden from where I was and it was raining hard, so I took a random tram to the center station in Amsterdam so I could find the right tram, just to find out, I could have walked a block originally.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I took up “Ce La Vie” from being with my Parisian friend and it is just a nice saying. I also learned that singing Queen’s “Don’t stop me now” works at any Karaoke bar anywhere.

    Why others should go: Berlin is a wonderful city where you are exposed to so much history and culture. I learned so much about German culture and there was always something to do. There is stuff I still wish I had done. There is an open-air karaoke pit with a really encouraging crowd called “Bear Park Karaoke” that I didn’t get to try. There’s always something you didn’t do or an experience you will fondly remember that pulls you back. Germany is also very central if you want to travel around Europe in your free time though (do spend some time in Germany though, of course)

    Ask me about Germany! tjalbrig@ucsd.edu

  • Yu Sun

    Hometown: Shanghai, Taipei, New Jersey and California 

    Study abroad Location/Program: Edinburgh, Scotland, UCEAP Internship

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Amsterdam, Brugge (Belgium), Isle of Skye

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Bread (UK bread are amazing!), Tea, mussels, Macaroons, Waffles, and Crepes

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: The first time I had to attend a Parliamentary meeting with the Law Society of Scotland members I got off at the wrong bus stop and was lost in a cemetery for 30 minutes. Because I had to go through security check as well in order to enter the committee room, I was late to the meeting by 40 minutes. My entrance to the room was caught on camera so my coworkers at the office saw and joked that I went on an exciting adventure that day. The members of the Law Society are warm, caring, and wonderful; I really enjoyed my time with them. 

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Being different and young can be advantageous. I am now more confident in my abilities and visions. Cultural and language barriers should not stop you from achieving what you wish. I now make bold decisions and strive to achieve what I desire rather than settling for mediocre results. 

    Why others should go: The Law Society of Scotland is a once in a life time opportunity for you to not only experience the Scottish and Uk cultures but also earn substantial academic credits and professional experiences at the same time. The work loads is manageable and you learn to solve day to day difficulties; this will definitely be useful to you in the future. Additionally, this internship is ideal who anyone who wants to explore the field of international law and politics. 

    Ask me about Scotland! ynsun@ucsd.edu

  • Kishan Desai

    Kishan Desai

    Home town: Thousand Oaks, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program:  Dublin, Ireland/UCEAP Summer Physics

    Favorite place visited while abroad: I was very fortunate to do a backpacking trip through Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Brussels, Edinburgh and London. Traveling with friends, old and new, is a wonderful experience as you are able to share such significant moments of awe and adventure with those you care about. Likewise, travelling individually was liberating and allowed me to truly experience the vibrancy and culture of each location. Adventure, history, friendship and, of course, delicious food awaits around every corner!

    Favorite food eaten abroad: For me, the food, history and culture of a country are intertwined. Food told a story in every country I visited; in London the influence of spices from Asia revealed a history of imperialism, in Barcelona the fresh availability of seafood exhibited the strong fishing and trade culture. Eating food was an experience in and of itself; outside of Yelp and Tripadvisor sometimes the most authentic and best food was from a street vendor or a hole in the wall restaurant frequented by locals.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: Public Transportation is a great option to travel efficiently and environmentally friendly in any city! Sitting at the bus stop waiting for a bus only to have it pass you, chalking it up to it being a full bus and having the next 2 pass you is not so fun. Learning how to hail a bus after a confusing afternoon: more fun.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Being abroad put life into perspective for me. Oftentimes I get caught up with responsibilities and school, but what I learned from the countries I visited, and the people I met was to stop and take it all in. I am more willing to enjoy the time I have and people I’ve met and savor all of my experiences .

    Why others should go: Studying abroad is not merely about getting credit for school, but rather it offers a chance for a student to experience a reality different from the norm. The learning process never stops in the classroom, and the education is beyond a single subject. That is, studying abroad is an opportunity for students to interact with and be a part of the world. The people you meet, the places you visit and experiences you have change you and will stay with you forever.

  • Tej Naganathan

    Tej Naganathan

    Home town: Hillsborough, New Jersey

    Study abroad Location/Program: Housing and Urbanism in Barcelona with UC Davis Summer Abroad, OAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Our class took a little weekend excursion to Girona. It had a very different feel from Barcelona, because instead of being a big cosmopolitan city, Girona is a Catalan city with rich medieval history, unique architecture and a home-y feel. Every restaurant took a lot of care in preparing meals and people in general were extremely welcoming. It was here that I finally bought myself a handcrafted folding fan, which was by far my best 3-euro investment of the trip because of the intense heat!

    Favorite food eaten abroad: PAELLA. Wow, this stuff is good. Basically it's a seafood rice dish served in a communal plate, but you can have it with meats like chicken or rabbit too. I had the good fortune of visiting Valencia, which is where paella originated. We showed up to the restaurant in a group of 6 so the dish itself was pretty huge...you should have seen our faces light up when it was served.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: A few of us visited Montpellier, France and the city has one cute monorail decorated in red and green flower print. We thought we were stranded in the middle of the night because we went too far in one direction and no other trains were coming, but it turns out that same train would start moving in the other direction. Luckily we realized this and made it back home- but not without some locals snickering at us!

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I've kept my phone clock in 24 hour time. It really makes more sense! I also noticed that people in Barcelona often sported lightweight patterned pants as opposed to jeans. It inspired me to buy a few myself and I do not regret the comfort.

    Why others should go: There is really no way I can describe how traveling abroad can change your life until you actually do it. It can be challenging at times but all the friends and little memories you make will stay with you for the rest of your life! After tackling new cities on my own, I've gained a whole new sense of self-confidence, and I encourage others to go out there and experience the same.

    Ask me about Spain! tnaganat@ucsd.edu

  • Wesley Cheng

    Wesley Cheng

    Hometown: Manila, Philippines

    Study Abroad Program: London, UK/UCEAP, Summer 1+2, London School of Economics (LSE)

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Buckingham Palace. I got to see the gifts from diplomats who have visited the UK from around the world and even saw an autograph by JFK. Plus, you get to be at the queen’s house.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Definitely, Flat Iron Steak. It is a steakhouse close to LSE at Soho with mouthwatering steak and a reasonable price of £10. If you ever go there, remember to close your eyes and enjoy the gastronomic marvel.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: For some reason, pigeons were following me around the city.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I started looking out the window in the morning when drinking tea.

    Why others should go: Beyond the intensity of the LSE summer school program, I recommend going to LSE because it is refreshing to experience metropolitanism. It is amazing how people I met in London are so accepting of dissenting opinions. They were very welcoming for a debate of logic and facts. Plus, you get to experience a different culture, learn a new subject, meet new friends, travel by the Tube (London subway), and, most importantly, pretend to be a Londoner for a summer.

    Ask me about England! wac022@ucsd.edu

  • Anahit Topchyan

    Anahit Topchyan

    Home town: Palmdale, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: Athens, Greece (Global seminar), Dublin, Ireland & London, England (Global seminar)

    Favorite place visited while abroad: London, England

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Paella con mariscos in Spain

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: As I was walking through a flea market with a friend in Athens, a man selling souvenirs walked up to me and handed me one of his hand-made bracelets. He told me that he will bless the bracelet by singing a ritual from his village back home, and began singing "Hakuna Matata" from the Lion King. He then went on and asked me to marry him. After I declined, we all had a good laugh and walked away.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Studying abroad requires a lot of socializing with both classmates and locals. I have brought back with me a newfound confidence when talking to new people. I feel more comfortable speaking with people and building an acquaintance than I did before going abroad.

    Why others should go: Studying abroad is a rejuvenating experience. It allows you to emerge yourself into a different culture and experience new things first-hand which you would not be able to learn inside of a classroom. I recommend all students to study abroad if they have the opportunity to do so because it allows you to grow as a person and build character. 

    Ask me about Greece, Ireland, and England! atopchya@ucsd.edu

  • Abby Lau

    Abby Lau

    Home town: Monterey Park, California

    Study abroad Location/program: Lund, Sweden/UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Ven, Sweden. It’s a small island off the west coast of Sweden. I spent my time eating ice cream from one of the only stands on the island, and tandem biking with a friend around the island. I loved soaking in all the beautiful views of the ocean, green fields, rolling hills, thick forests, wild animals, and small lakes. We even met a few of the locals and gave them a spin on our tandem bike!

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Kanelbullar. This is a Swedish cinnamon roll. They are not as sweet, have a little more spices in it (especially cardamom), and are often baked crispier than American cinnamon rolls. Almost every café, bakery store, restaurant, and grocery store in Sweden sold these and I had one almost every day. They. Are. The. Best.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I was travelling around Germany with a couple of friends and on the last day, we were waiting for our train back to Sweden. We were at the train station, on time, at the right track, at the right platform, and we still missed our train. It turned out to be behind a really long train in front of us and we didn’t even notice when it drove off in front of us! We ended up changing routes from one direct, 5-hour train ride to Sweden to FIVE, 8-hour train transfers at 4 AM. We were stranded in Germany, fell asleep at the third train station, ate McDonald’s, got sick, and threw up. The moral of the story: don’t eat Mcdonald’s at 3 AM. …Or don’t miss your train in a foreign country. Either is good.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I definitely spend more time outdoors, whether that is planning an entire camping trip, or just sitting outside in my backyard, reading a book. Sweden takes great care of their natural landscapes and I learned to better appreciate unpaved paths, getting lost in the woods, and finding beauty in unexpected places.

    Why others should go: Sweden is a wonderful country that is vastly different from the U.S., in everything ranging from culture, people, political ideas, values, and norms. I moved from an urban city to a small town with buildings that were older than the United States. I learned to be very very very very quiet on a bus. I saw more people jogging in my 6 months in Sweden than my entire life in the U.S. I recycled almost 100% of my waste. I learned to appreciate the sun. These all seem pretty random, but each new experience added to a greater, more comprehensive understanding of Swedish culture and values. Being able to see, learn, and experience another culture has forced me to be both critical and appreciative of my own culture in the U.S.

    Contact me about Sweden: Abby.Lau95@gmail.com

Study Abroad Returnees in North, South, Central America, & the Caribbean

  • Riley Zhang

    Riley Zhang

    Hometown: Yantai, China

    Study abroad Location/Program: Quito, Ecuador, Global Seminars

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Tena

    Favorite food abroad: Empanada de Queso 

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: Did not understand what the menu described, and ordered something completely different than what I expected. 

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Being brave and calm all the time. I used to be afraid of extreme outdoor activities, now everything seems like a piece of cake. 

    Why others should go: Before I came to Ecuador, I have really limited knowledge of what Ecuador was like. The country is eye-opening and really pushed me to think about how to survive in a country where people nurture in a totally different culture. My study abroad team helped me get through the transitioning process. My peers and the whole new environment challenged me to learn and unlearn my own bias, appreciate something new every day, and form connections with locals who deeply love their country. After Ecuador, I went to five different countries and were fortunate enough to apply what I learned in Ecuador to other South and Central American countries. There are just so much to learn! Don’t miss this once in a lifetime experience. 

    Ask me about Equador! puz001@ucsd.edu 

Study Abroad Returnees in the Middle East & Africa

  • Alice Moylan

    Alice Moylan

    Hometown: Davis, California

    Study Abroad Location/Program: University of Ghana, UCEAP, Fall 2016

    Favorite place visited while abroad: I loved all of the beautiful beaches in Ghana. They were idyllic, with white sand, blue water and waving palm trees. Some friends and I spent a weekend at a beach outside the city. It was my favorite place because of the natural beauty, but also because of the people I got to share it with.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: My go-to lunch in Ghana was Red-Red. It is pinto beans cooked in spicy red sauce and big chunks of fried plantain.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: During one of our group trips to the Volta region we got caught in a huge rainstorm. In Ghana it rains like no rain you’ve ever seen, just buckets and buckets. Our whole program – 28 students, 4 Ghanaian student ambassadors and 6 staff – were in this bus, in the middle of nowhere, on dirt roads that were quickly turning to mud. We were all inside screaming and laughing at our ridiculous situation. The bus got stuck in the mud and a group of folks had to get out and push it! It was like something straight out of an Indian Jones movie.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I wear my Ghanaian clothes as often as I possibly can. I fell in love with the vibrant fabrics and styles in Ghana and got lots of outfits made by my favorite seamstress, Auntie Jane. It was so fun to go to a huge crazy market and pick out fabrics with my friends. Every time I wear these clothes back home I get to remember all those days in Ghana and feel super fly in clothes made just for me!

    Why others should go: Studying abroad develops your capacity for empathy because you interact and live with people who have life experiences that are vastly different from your own.  Any future path you take will be positively impacted by this ability which is crucial in a rapidly globalizing world. Ghana is an unconventional study abroad location, but I believe it is one of the most beautiful, welcoming, and exciting places in the world.

    Contact me about Ghana! almoylan@ucsd.edu

  • Omar Sajjad

    Omar Sajjad

    Home town: Pleasanton, California

    Study abroad Location: Amman, Jordan, Global Seminar

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Wadi Rum, a secluded desert valley with Bedouin-style camps and the starriest night sky I've ever seen

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Marinated lamb shanks cooked beneath the desert sand (Great, now my mouth's watering)

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: While I was on my way to downtown Amman, my taxi driver struck up a conversation with me. He was very much into American pop culture, especially music. He mentioned that he was a huge fan of Eminem; from there, we spent the rest of the cab ride debating whether Eminem's music had declined in quality over the past few years.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: One thing Jordanians are renowned for is their immense hospitality. Virtually every person I conversed with in Amman would constantly smile and tell me, "Welcome to Jordan!". Taking their attitude to heart, I now make an effort to smile more and be as warm to others as I can, regardless of how my day is going.

Study Abroad Returnees in Oceania (Australia, New Zealand)

  • Sammy (Tian) Guan

    Sammy (Tian) Guan

    Home town: Modesto, CA

    Study Abroad: New Zealand, Global Seminar

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Queenstown - It was the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in my life. I was awestruck the moment I saw Lake Wakatipu from the Queenstown Gardens.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Steak from New Zealand Beef (@ Botswana Butchery, Auckland)

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: The weather was so unpredictable. During the first days, I would head out in short sleeves because it was sunny and warm outside, and an hour later, it was pouring rain. We ducked into a showing center to avoid the rain and then ten minutes later, the rain had stopped. Then sometimes I would head out wrapped in a giant jacket because it was super windy outside, then by the time I reached the pier, which was a few blocks away, I was sweating because the sun was beating down. I learned to always carry and umbrella when I head out and to wear a short sleeve with a thing jacket because you never know what the weather is like in New Zealand.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Awareness. When I was in New Zealand, I was amazed by the integration of cultures in everyday life. I slowly began to realize and became aware of the different cultures that interacted with each other everyday. I was based in Auckland, which is the most culturally diverse city in New Zealand and just by walking down the streets, I began to notices the Kiwi culture mixing with Maori culture. There were also many different cultures from around the world that were present on one single street. As I headed away from the city, my awareness relaxedly sharpened. That's an oxymoron, I know, but it's true. Once I got away from the city, the scenery and environment was more relaxed and calming. It freed all my senses, however it also sharpened my awareness. I noticed and absorbed the habits, traditions, and cultures of the people of New Zealand. My awareness allowed me to fully immerse myself into learning everything about New Zealand. Once I got back to the US, the awareness I developed kept with me. I became more aware of my daily life, noticing new things about boring things that I see everyday. I became aware of what makes the US unique in its own way.

    Why others should go: The first and foremost, study abroad is an unforgettable experience. While you can travel abroad and vacation in other countries, going to another country to study is a whole other special experience that can open you up to so many things. You get to meet new people and share your culture with the world while you learn about the world. I also got to bond with so many new people that I would have never gotten the chance to bond with, if not for studying abroad. Personally, it expanded my view of the world and made me realize how truly big the world was. It sounds a little cheesy, but all truth. Before the trip, I didn't even know where New Zealand was. I literally had to Google Map where Auckland, New Zealand was. I defiantly didn't know about the Maori people or their culture. Study abroad has truly changed my view of the world in a positive way. I highly recommend it to everyone because YOLO you know. :)

    Ask me about New Zealand! t5guan@ucsd.edu (feel free to email me!)

  • Juan (Danny) Barragan-Chavez

    Juan (Danny) Barragan-Chavez

    Home town: San Diego, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: Sydney, Australia/Global Seminar

    Favorite place visited while abroad: My favorite place to visit was Featherdale Wildlife Park. I was able to see all of the unique Australian animals like kangaroos, koalas, emus, and Tasmanian devils. The best part was there was a section where you can feed/pet some of the smaller animals they had!!! 

    Favorite food eaten abroad: A kangaroo burrito. It was cooked kangaroo with rice, sour cream, and beans. The flavor was really unique and it was very chewy!

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: One night a group of friends and I left our hotel with the mission of finding as many Australian snacks, sodas, and ice creams as we possibly could. After an hour and a half of going from store to store, buying any sweets we could get our hands on, we retreated to our hotel to have an all-night movie marathon. We proceeded to eat all the snacks, ice cream, and soda that we bought in a 14-hour movie binge that ended at 9 am. We ended that night having eaten over $100 worth of snacks and watching over 10 movies in what can only be described as an epic movie night!

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: The ability to try new things. When you study abroad, you are immersed in a completely new environment and culture that initially might seem scary. But once you stop and take in your situation, you realize that you are in the perfect position to exit your comfort zone and try new experiences. Taking that leap to try new things will open you to a wonderful new world that can give you some of the best memories you will ever have! Now that I’m back in the United States, I am eager to push the boundaries on what I am comfortable with doing because I know that trying new things will always result in something new and exciting.

    Why others should go: There are so many reasons why you should study abroad. The people, the food, the culture, the experience, it all culminates to one of the best experiences you will ever have in your life. It gives you the freedom to do whatever you want while simultaneously keeping an eye on you to make sure you are always safe. You can have the opportunity to learn what it it's like to live in another part of the world while advancing your study's back home. You have the familiarity of school and class to help keep you comfortable and the option to adventure and explore the new country. But i believe the best part of study abroad is the fact that you are in control of your experience and what you want to do while abroad. 

    Ask me about Australia! jdbarrag@ucsd.edu

  • Jacqueline Ong

    Jacqueline Ong

    Home town: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: Sydney, Australia; Global Seminar

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Sydney zoo where we got to have breakfast with the koala’s. Feeding the koala’s and hanging out with them was one of my most favorite experiences in Australia.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Fish and chips at the boardwalk on Bondi beach taste amazing. Also ate crocodile and kangaroo too. A good and weird experience.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: Probably not the silliest thing, but very unusual thing is walking on the other side of the sidewalk and driving on the other side of the road. Australians will know tourists by which side of the street people walk on.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Open-mindedness. Being in a different country and surrounded by a different culture has helped me develop a new respect for cultures, traditions, and systems that are different from mine. Diversity means more knowledge and more progress for a whole community.

    Why others should go: Sydney is in the center of everything. In a 2 hour drive from the city you can visit the beautiful Blue Mountains of Australia where there are waterfalls and hills beyond your amazement, in a 20 minute ferry you can go to Taronga zoo and see kangaroos, in another 20 minute train ride you can visit different universities or go to Bondi Beach and Manly Beach and in another 10 minutes you can be at Hyde Park or the Sydney Opera House.

    Ask me about Australia! j4ong@ucsd.edu                                                  


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