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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

  • Michelle Ragsac

    Michelle Ragsac

    Home town: San Mateo, California

    Study abroad Location/Program: Osaka, Japan / UCEAP Summer Lab Research, Engineering and Science, Osaka University

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Kyoto, Japan

    Favorite food eaten abroad: It's a tie between the "Yuba Ice Cream" I had in Kyoto while exploring and the "Hiroshima-yaki" I had on a UCEAP Cultural Trip with other students!

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I was at Fushimi Inari Shrine with friends, and we had just arrived back at the entrance after climbing to the top of the mountain. With the moon high in the sky, the shrine grounds were mostly empty, so we wanted to take a group photo in front of Romon Gate! There was a silly Filipino family that I asked to take our photo, and they shined their cellphone lights on us because the flash wasn't working well on my cellphone. While snapping pictures, the photographer kept telling us to "work it" like models and made cheesy jokes about California to make us smile. They reminded me of my family back home, and it made me feel a little less homesick!

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: While I was in Osaka, I stayed at an international student dormitory with shared kitchens. Sometimes, the students living there would cook and eat dinner together. We would even have parties where we made food from another person's home country! Now that I'm back in the US, I've been trying to cook more, as well as try more complex recipes: some that I learned while staying at the dormitory in Japan, and others that my family makes at home. I also talk with some of the people I met in Japan still over LINE!

    Why others should go: Going to another country, especially one where you don't know the host language, really opens your eyes to the different perspectives and lifestyles people have. It was definitely difficult to try and adjust myself to the differences in culture, but talking about these experiences with the other UCEAP students definitely helped! More students should go on study abroad because you're able to interact and explore the country (and get lost in the country) with other people that you would not have otherwise met. I've definitely been inspired to try and travel more after going on this trip.

    Contact Me about Japan: mragsac@eng.ucsd.edu

  • 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. 

  • Zhanwei Wang (Vera)

    Zhanwei Wang (Vera)

    Home town: Chongqing, China

    Study abroad Location/Program: Tokyo, Japan/ OAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Tokyo national Museum Favorite food eaten abroad: Sushi Silly thing that happened to you abroad: When I made my first phone call in Japanese to a friend, I intended to say " I've got to go now, see you soon". But I used " sayonara", which means "farewell" in Japanese and it was really awkward.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Dairy - That is very popular and usual in Japan for people to have a dairy book and keep tracking their daily life.

    Why others should go: Japan is a country that full of surprise once you get there. It is not just because  of the natural view and yummy food, but also because of  the culture which is really fascinating.

    Contact me about Japan: zhw129 @ ucsd.edu

  • Mia Tran

    Mia Tran

    Home town: Garden Grove, California

    Study abroad Location/Program: Tokyo, Japan/UCEAP International Christian University Spring Term  

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Udon, Ramen, Yakiniku

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: One time, I was walking down the street of Harajuku with my roommate, and a photographer asked us for a street-style-photo picture. At first, I thought he only asked my roommate because she was tall, skinny, and used to be a model. However, he meant to ask both of us. I pointed at myself, saying "Me too?" We ended up posing for him, and it was a really nice and fun experience.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: While studying abroad, I noticed that Japanese people bowed a lots to show appreciation to everyone in general, especially to the elderly. I now unconsciously do it as I show my gratitude and appreciation to the elders and the people of higher level. I also learnt to eat Japanese food in a more appropriate and right way.

    Why others should go: Some people might think that only gamers and people who are into Japanese animations are interested in Japan, but I am not a gamer, and I do not like Japan because of Japanese animations. Japan takes culture appreciation to another level as well as being festive, and celebrating every changing season in a way like nowhere else. Japanese people/friends are friendly, helpful, and want students and visitors to know more about Japanese culture and have a good time as much as possible. They will go out of your way to help you even when there is a language barrier. No matter who you are, I am sure Japan will leave a deep impression on you and become your second home once you take the opportunity to study abroad and let Japanese culture emerge into you.

    Contact me about Japan: mtt004@ucsd.edu

  • 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

  • Cathy Park

    Cathy Park

    Home town: Irvine, California

    Study abroad Location/Program: Seoul, South Korea, UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: The Trick-Eye Museum Favorite food eaten abroad: Fried Chicken and Shaved Ice Silly thing that happened to you abroad: My backpack got stuck on an elevator door at school. I was facing everyone who was in the elevator, so I just stood there awkwardly smiling and not being able to move for 10 floors.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Through my internship at a start-up app company, I learned so much about apps and what goes into the creation and marketing processes. I now keep myself updated by constantly downloading new apps when I see ads or hear about them, just to check them out and see what kind of features they offer. 

    Why others should go: When you're at UC San Diego, as great as it is, you tend to reside in a little bubble without much appreciation for what lies outside. Studying abroad gives you that outlet to explore other foods, languages, cultures, and places, as well as the opportunity to branch out of your comfort zone. My experience studying abroad prompted me to want to seek adventure in various aspects of my life and has molded me into a more confident individual. 

    Contact me about Korea: cgpark@ucsd.edu

  • Emma Kohagura

    Emma Kohagura

    Home town: Sacramento, CA

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

    Favorite place visited while abroad: I loved Tokyo Tower the most! It was the only major place I went to twice while I was in Japan.  The view from Tokyo Tower is stunning especially at night.  I could see the shining lights of the city and the flow of the traffic.  Looking at the city from the Tower felt so magical.  When I was there, Tokyo Tower also had a beautiful light show in its main observatory, which only added to the experience.  The best part of my time at Tokyo Tower was how much I laughed with my friends on the almost 500 step staircase down to the floor and lying on the floor of the tower to get the perfect panorama of the base.  Tokyo Tower also has great merchandise and delicious food there as well.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: The ramen in Japan is like no other. I had ramen almost every week in Japan, which I know isn’t really good for you but it was so good. The best ramen I had was in Roppongi on a rainy day.  We just happened to find this ramen shop on yelp and had to ask help from the locals to find it but it was worth it! I have never had such a rich broth and the egg was so creamy! It was one of my favorite meals I had in Japan, and I had plenty.  

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: My friend had a habit of barking every now and then just to annoy me.  Usually she’d do this to tease me or just because she felt like it. However, one day I left my bedroom door open and was working on homework.  My friend, whose room is right next to mine, noticed and decided to scare me.  As she walked by my room, she made barking noises loudly enough to scare me but not loud enough to annoy the other people on our floor.  Her barking surprised me so much I jumped in my chair and yelped.  She ran away laughing so loud and still does this to me on campus.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I still tend to walk on the left side of the road haha! But besides that I also realized the importance of sorting your trash and taking care of your community.  In Japan, everyone sorts their trash even separating their recycling.  The streets of Japan are so clean because everyone takes care to not dirty their community.  They make sure to deposit their trash or they hold onto it until they can.  They don’t just leave it on the ground or litter.  I found this so refreshing compared to all the gum and water bottles that sprinkle America’s sidewalks.  It has made me more conscious about keeping my community clean and doing my part.

    Why others should go: Studying abroad allows you to meet like minded people and form amazing friendships.  In a foreign country, you become more independent and self-reliant. You manage your own money and plan what you want to do almost every day.  These skills enable you to become more responsible and can be very useful in college.  You can also experience unique activities like singing karaoke in Shibuya till 5am or visiting Hiroshima’s peace ceremony. These are experiences that you will remember for the rest of your life and will be one of the highlights of your time in college.  The culture and the people can teach you a lot such as being courteous on transportation or becoming more efficient.  However, most importantly study abroad allows you to understand yourself better and become more open minded.  When you are in another country, you expand your view of the world and even your community. You become more knowledgeable of another culture and their customs so when you go back home you can overcome stereotypes present in your community.  You can also bring back new ideas to help improve your community at home or help improve yourself based on what you learned from the people you meet abroad.  While there may be a lot of stress during the process of preparing for studying abroad, once you are there you will not regret it.  The memories and the friends you make will be well worth every obstacle.  Also food in Japan is amazing and the special regional limited items that you cannot buy online are already a good reason to go.

    Contact me about Japan: ekohagur@ucsd.edu

  • Emily Lee

    Emily Lee

    Home town: San Francisco, California   

    Study abroad Location/Program: Singapore/ UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Bali, Indonesia

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Hainan Chicken Rice – Hawker Center

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I played tug-o-war with a monkey. He won.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I drink ice lemon tea with every meal.

    Why others should go: Studying abroad raises your cultural awareness. Unlike vacationing, by living and studying in a different country for more than a month, you can experience both the tourist and local cultures of that country. You will also be able to meet people from other countries, and the other foreign students are just as eager to make friends as you are. Singapore is a great country to study abroad in if you want to study in an English speaking country. It is also great for traveling to other countries during the weekends, including Malaysia and Indonesia. Many of my friends have even traveled to Japan and Taiwan for the longer breaks.

  •  KC Johan

    KC Johan

    Home town: Irvine, Ca

    Study abroad Location/Program: Seoul, South Korea/ UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Busan

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Bing Su from Sulbing Dessert Cafe

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: Because of some language barriers, I misunderstood what the hairdresser was saying about dying my hair. I had wanted to dye my hair dark purple. She had apparently said that I had to layer my hair in order for the hair color to show through. I didn't understand that so when she was done for my hair, I could only see a strip of color at the front of my hair rather than the whole thing. In the end, I had to go to a different salon to redye it properly.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Being able to connect with Koreans more quickly has become really nice :) Plus I find myself actually reading Korean characters now because I had also learned that abroad.

    Why others should go: It is the adventure of a lifetime. Korea is a very tourist friendly country and the nightlife there is definitely much better than the United States (where clubs here close at 2am). There are so many places to explore, so many amazing foods and desserts to eat, and it is very affordable too where everything from clothes, to purses/backpacks/bags, beauty products, etc are so much cheaper than those in the United States. It is a place that feels comfortable to walk around in, even at night, and even being there for a couple months, you will quickly realize just how little time that actually is!

    Contact me about Korea: kjohan@ucsd.edu

  • Samantha Benedicto

    Samantha Benedicto

    Hometown: Glendale, CA

    Study abroad location: Kunming, China/OAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Dali, China

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Hand-pulled noodles! There was a small place near the hospital we were studying at that not only made the noodles right in front of you, but the total cost was less than $3. So cheap and delicious.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: Green Lake Park in Kunming is filled with very active senior citizens doing taiji, dance aerobics, and other exercise activities. On our first visit there, some friends and I joined in on a taiji and dance class. I quickly realized that the senior citizens were not only much more graceful and flexible than I was, but also in a lot better shape.

    Something you took from being abroad: I drink tea more often. I'd also like to think I matured in my tea-drinking after coming back home from China- I used to have to add milk or sugar to my tea, but now I can drink it plain (this was a big step for me, haha).

    Why others should go: Having the opportunity to immerse yourself in a culture apart from your own really broadens your perspective of the world. Adapting to certain cultural norms not only challenges your way of thinking but makes you more open-minded, ultimately letting you grow as a person and allowing you to really learn about yourself. Studying abroad not only gives you once in a lifetime experiences, such as visiting a Living Buddha in Shangri-la or exploring a 270 million year-old Stone Forest, but allows you to meet incredible people along the way. You gain so many life-skills, such as working with people from completely different backgrounds, and increase in your own independence and self-confidence. No matter where you go, I am sure it will be an amazing experience. 10/10, would highly recommend.

    Contact me about China: sbenedic@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

  • Renee Walton

    Renee Walton

    Hometown: Mission Viejo, California

    Study Abroad Location/Program: UCEAP multi-city program in Rome, Italy & Madrid, Spain

    Favorite Place visited while abroad: Rome was definitely my favorite place. There is so much to see in Rome. It is filled with history and around every corner is something to see. I enjoyed the piazzas, the cobble-stoned streets, the food, and the fact that I could find everything so easily since I could walk to almost every place. I would go back to Rome in a heartbeat. I am so glad I chose to study in Rome. I have to give some credit though to a city called Seville I visited while studying in Madrid. I got a Spanish feel by being in that city. It was beautiful and I encouraged everyone I knew in my program to go there. I loved everything that Seville embodied. I also got to see a free Flamenco dance.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: One of my favorite types of food is Italian so I enjoyed the Italian food every day, but I took a cooking class in Rome that I was able to sign up for at the study center. We made focaccia bread and we got to eat a piece right when it came out of the oven, and it was the most amazing thing ever. I am also a big bread person so this was the best thing for me. There was also a little gelato place close to the UC center called Frigidarium and it was the best gelato I have ever had. I went there almost every time I could while in Rome.

    Silly thing that happened while abroad: While studying in Madrid, my roommate and I decided to travel to Barcelona for the weekend. We decided to stay in an air B&B with an amazing family who welcomed us as if we were part of their family. Their apartment was outside the city of Barcelona so we had to take the train in from a station close by whenever we wanted to do touristy stuff in Barcelona. The host gave us a schedule of the trains and told us which one to take. However, she did not specify which to take back to their apartment. So, as we went back we didn’t pay attention to all of the stops the train stopped at and we ended up going past our end destination. So we got off and crossed the tracks to take the train going back the other way and this time we paid attention to the stops, but we didn’t see the stop we wanted. So we got off and went back the other way, we didn’t see our stop again and this happened about four times. Finally, we decided to get off at the closest stop we could and take a taxi back. Once we got back to the family we told them what happened and they told us the name of the exact train we needed to take when we came back to their apartment so we remembered that for the next day.

    Something you took from being abroad that your now do in the US: There are many streets in Rome and Madrid and I had to wait many times for the walk sign to flash so I could cross the street. As the days went by I saw many people crossing the street before the walk sign flashed if no cars were coming. In order to save time I ended up doing the same thing. During the summer after I came back, I began to walk across the street without waiting for the walk sign to flash. (It’s probably a bad habit, but I now only do it once and a while).

    Why others should go: Studying abroad opens up a new world. It allows you to be independent, curious, adventurous, and grow as a person. I got to experience things that others could only dream about. I got to experience living in another city, walk on their streets, and eat their food. My classes were also taught by amazing professors, I learned so much from them. I also got to meet and live with some incredible people from other UC schools. Even better is that I found a friend for life in my roommate. It all may seem overwhelming, but once you are in your destination and settled in, everything can only get better from there. Also, when you come back you get to brag about all the amazing things you did and saw.

    Contact me about Spain and Italy: rnwalton@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

  • Beverly Yu

    Beverly Yu

    Home town: Cupertino, CA

    Study abroad location/Program: London, England/UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: I was able to visit a couple places within the country's borders including Cambridge, Oxford, and Greenwich -- to name a few --, but my favorite trip by far was to Brighton. A seaside town, Brighton is full of life with so much to do and see. I got to tour the gorgeous Royal Pavilion, browse the Open Market, and explore the pier with friends -- all in a single day. It was the best day trip I took while abroad and I would highly recommend Brighton to anyone looking for a fun time!

    Favorite food eaten abroad: I'm a huge fan of both tea and sweets, so this is super easy to answer as a general question -- afternoon tea. Where, specifically though? Now that's a more difficult question. I think I'll have to go with this place called Teanamu Chaya Teahouse in Notting Hill because it offered the perfect balance between savory and sweet, and the tea was amazing. Not only was the experience unique in its incorporation of a tea ceremony, but it also had an oriental twist on the stereotypically British tradition. So basically Teanamu gave me good tea, dim sum, AND heavenly sweets...What more could you want?

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: When I first arrived in London by tube (from the airport), I spent 2 hours looking for my residence that was actually just a 5-minute walk from the tube station.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Studying abroad in London has made me into an even bigger fan of tea than I was before. Not only have I developed (I think) quite a discerning taste for tea, but I've also become pretty picky on how I want my tea prepared. That basically means goodbye to tea bags in mugs and hello to tea leaves, teapots, decanters, and cute little teacups! 

    Why others should go: This is a tricky question to answer, because I think a lot of people who have studied abroad have had different reasons for doing so. My personal reason was to experience the culture of a different country, all while receiving a high-quality education and not having to worry about language barriers; however, I know quite a few people who go abroad for the main purpose of improving their fluency in another language, or to even just have fun and meet people from all over the world. That being said, I think there are many reasons to go abroad, and if I had to say why I think others should go, I would say: to explore whatever you want to, and to have fun doing it!

    Contact me about London: bxyu@ucsd.edu

  • Juliana Struthers

    Juliana Struthers

    Home town: Sacramento, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: Paris, France (summer 2013) and Cardiff, Wales (academic year 2014-15)/OAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Sweden. We went to Kiruna in the Arctic Circle in order to try to see the Northern Lights (we didn’t see them, but we got to ride on a dog sled and pet a reindeer), and then we visited Stockholm for a few beautiful days and toured the Christmas markets and quaint Old Town buildings.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Hot chocolate in a cafe in Paris where F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway used to write!

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: My friends and I thought we were stuck in a Belgian train station because we didn’t have the ticket to get past the electronic-looking door - but it turns out that all we had to do was push the door open!

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I bring my own grocery bags (in the UK they would charge you for plastic bags).

    Why others should go: It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You will live in another country and often travel around and within it. You will learn so much about yourself, the world, and others. You’ll make great friends and great memories. I have never met anyone who regretted studying abroad - only people who regret not going.

    Contact me about France and the UK: jastruth@ucsd.edu

  • Samika Shenoy

    Samika Shenoy

    Home town: Sunnyvale, CA

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

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Chefchaouen, Morocco (The blue city)

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Octopus cooked in garlic and parsley in Málaga

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: Right after Portugal won the Euro Cup, some Portugese students from our residencia asked us to celebrate with them by jumping in a huge fountain in one of the main plazas of Granada at midnight. We went, and tourists starting taking pictures and videos of us!

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Siestas :)

    Why others should go: The lifestyle in Granada is like no other and was a nice change of pace from busy California. There is always something to do: explore the street art, stay out late eating tapas, or visit the vibrant North African shops on the way to the Alhambra. My trip gave me countless unforgettable experiences that made it one of the best summers of my life, and if you have an opportunity to study abroad you should 100% take it.

    Contact me about Spain: spshenoy@ucsd.edu

  • Brynna Bolt

    Brynna Bolt

    Home town: Modesto, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: Paris, France/UCEAP Language and Culture Program

    Favorite place visited while abroad: I really loved visiting all of the museums in Paris. Even if you know next to nothing about art (like me) it's still an amazing experience. My favorite was the Musee de l'Orangerie in the Tuileries Gardens.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: It's a tie between the baguettes in France and the paella in Spain.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I didn't know that to pay for produce in France you have to weigh it first. So when the cashier at the Monoprix that I went to almost every day asked me if I had weighed my bananas I was completely confused. There was a definite language barrier, and, finally, I just gave up and told her that I didn't want them anymore. Later that day my roommate had to go back to buy my bananas for me because I was wayyyy too embarrassed to go back myself.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I still try to dress like a Parisian (e.g. no sweat pants). I'm also really lucky that I still get to see some of my best friends from the trip here in California!

    Why others should go: For the art, the history, the travel, the friends, and the bread. Definitely the bread. It's a once in a lifetime experience that takes you completely out of your comfort zone. By the end of the trip you're more confident in yourself and your ability to be independent. And you get to see some really incredible things along the way. Oh, did I mention the bread?

  • Ashley Stone

    Home town: Corona, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: London, England/UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Edinburgh, Scotland

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Indian food at Borough Market

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I sort of accidentally joined the King's College Woman's Football team. I was playing out on a field by my flat and the captain of the team happened to be walking by and asked if I wanted to be on the team, 3 days later I was playing in my first game!

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: I still have not changed my keyboard back to American English, and have Twining's Earl Grey tea with a spot of milk most days!

    Why others should go: It's like living another version of your life. You can experience what life would be like if you really did live in another city, and you can prove to yourself that you are capable of living on your own and exploring a city/your own life for yourself.

    Contact me about London: anstone@ucsd.edu

  • Timothy Liu

    Timothy Liu

    Home town: Fairfield, California

    Study abroad Location/Program: Paris, France/Global Seminar

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Metro de Paris; the public transportation is beautiful.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Escargot (how cliche) and freshly shucked oysters on the shell.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I got lost while looking for a laundromat and ended up dragging a bag of laundry around Paris for two hours.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Among other things, I learned to cook!

    Why others should go: Learning to survive in a completely foreign environment improves everything in your everyday life, although it may not be obvious at first. I found that I became more autonomous, assertive, and empathetic from my experiences. By experiencing French culture, which many consider to be the antithesis of American culture, I was able to reject American ideas that I found harmful and replace them with values that are important to me. In this way, Study Abroad helped me unveil what I wanted from life and how I wanted to live life. 

    Contact me about Paris: tpliu@ucsd.edu

  • Mhairi London

    Mhairi London

    Hometown: Oakland, CA

    Study Abroad Location/Program: Edinburgh, Scotland/UCEAP

    Favorite Place visited while abroad: Probably Marrakesh, Morocco. It was so different from any place I had ever seen before. There are huge markets consisting solely of little stalls, but there are also huge shopping malls a little farther down the street. The Yves St. Laurent garden was especially beautiful. And I got to watch the sun rise in the Sahara Desert on Earth Day! Madrid was also so much fun. The city had such a great vibe and I was obsessed with the food. Within Scotland, traveling in the Highlands and to the Isle of Skye was life changing. The scenery there is unlike anything I'll probably ever see again.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Porridge! A little breakfast place that I went to at least twice a week made the most amazing porridge. And fried potato scones were the perfect thing after a night out.

    Silly thing that happened while abroad: On my third or so night I got invited to a Scottish National Party ceilidh (a traditional Scottish dance party) out in a tiny wee town. We showed up with a group of about 10 Americans, but the people there were so amazingly nice. They taught us all the complicated moves, there was a live folk band, and they gave us meat pies and "mushy peas", which were SO delicious. Everyone was so wonderfully inclusive and made sure we were having a good time, despite the fact that we were so out of place. We ended up missing the last train home and had to take a 45 minute taxi ride back, but it was so worth it.

    Something you took from being abroad that your now do in the US: I still say cheers when I get off a bus or leave a store. I have (almost completely) given up coffee in the mornings and replaced it with English Breakfast tea. Sometimes I'll still look the wrong way when I'm crossing the street.

    Why others should go: Everyone says studying abroad changes your life, but I've learned that it actually does. I'm so beyond glad I chose to stay for the year. I loved it so much that I ended up pushing my flight back 3 months so I could stay for the summer. I learned so much about myself and grew so much as a person. I now have friends from all over the country, and all over the world as well. As of right now, my best friend is Romanian, my boyfriend is Scottish, and my old flatmate was from UCSB. It's amazing how study abroad brings people together, whether they're from your hometown or from across the world. It was one of the hardest moments of my life when I had to leave Edinburgh for good, and I'm counting down the days until I get to go back. I honestly couldn't have asked for a better year.

    Contact me about Scotland: mlondon@ucsd.edu

  • Stephanie Jo

    Stephanie Jo

    Home town: Irvine, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program : Copenhagen, Denmark/UCEAP 

    Favorite place visited while abroad: I took a 10 day trip with some friends to Prague, Rome, and Florence, and it was definitely one of the best trips I have ever taken. I fell in love with Prague and Rome especially- both cities are just so vibrant. The architecture, the people, and, oh my goodness, the food are breathtaking. Even just walking around the city aimlessly, taking in all the history and culture felt like such a treat. It's definitely not something you can see back at home. It also didn't hurt to eat pizza, pasta, and gelato every day.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Bread. Studying in Denmark gave me access to so many amazing pastries/danishes and bread. There were literally bakeries on every corner. My favorite bakery was Sankt Peders Bageri. They had huge, delicious pastries, and snegle onsdags (cinnamon roll Wednesdays) where plate size rolls were only 15 kr- super cheap in CPH.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: My last meal in Italy was McDonald's filet-o-fish. My friends and I were scheduled to take one of the first flights back to Copenhagen from Milan, and we arrived at Milan near midnight. We had originally planned on walking around the city until our flight, but we were not expecting it to be pouring rain. Instead, we were trapped and starving at the train station, so we decided to eat at McDonald's and go straight to the airport without seeing Milan at all.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Wearing all black. Scandinavian fashion is pretty monochromatic and everyone wears all black, with the occasional white and grey. I definitely still dress like that- it's so simple yet chic!

    Why others should go: Getting to travel and seeing all the pretty sights are a big plus to studying abroad, but more importantly, I learned so much about myself and other cultures. I was able to meet and befriend so many international students while in Copenhagen, and was able to learn so much about their countries and cultures. For example, I had no idea that the US is one of the only countries where most students leave home for college and stay in dorms. In other places, students mostly commute and living with other students in a dorm is a completely foreign notion. I learned that I am capable of living on my own in a completely different country, and I gained the confidence that I am able to go to travel to a new place, be able to navigate the city, and make the most of every opportunity. Going abroad is the best thing I ever decided to do, and I highly encourage everyone to do the same!

    Contact me about Denmark: syjo@ucsd.edu

  • Cara Cusi

    Cara Cusi

    Home town: Temecula, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: Paris, France/ UCEAP 

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Château d'If in Marseille!  

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Not really a food, but the hot chocolate from Café de Flore. I don't even think it's inaccurate of me to say that they melted a block of chocolate and poured it into my cup. I don't even like chocolate but somehow this fulfilled my wildest dreams. 

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: A British man with his two young children came into the same metro car as my friends and I, and he must have assumed that no one else around him could understand English because he went on to point out that a nearby man "has a rather large bald spot." Loudly so. He then encouraged his children to think of solutions for the balding, and the little apples did not fall far from the tree when it came to voice volume. Apparently, an ointment or a wig couldn't save that balding man. 

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Drinking espresso, tying little scarves around my neck or hair, and taking my time when I walk to really look at things. 

    Why others should go: You are pushed out of your comfort zone almost everyday being surrounded by a different language and a different way of life. Every interaction is a learning experience, especially since normal people don't talk as slowly as your French teacher. Famous works of art are just a metro ride away and your history textbook comes to life on the very streets that you walk on. Getting lost isn't so much a bad thing, especially when it's the late afternoon and everything feels soft and yellow. A perfect time to sit down at a café, drink some espresso and consult Google maps. 

  • Lai-Yin (Sharon) Lui

    Lai-Yin (Sharon) Lui

    Hometown: Hong Kong

    Study Abroad Location/Program: Brighton,England/UCEAP 

    Favorite Place visited while abroad: Warner Brother Studio (all about the production of Harry Potter). Obviously, I am a big fans of Harry Potter. By the way, you could tell from my profile picture. It took me four hours to explore this place. It was an amazing experience since this place offered really detailed information on every pieces of film elements that contributed to such a wonderful movie series, including the castle design, custom design and special effects used in the movies.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Cream tea with scones. It is a must-try classic food in England. I would say. It was my rewarding meal after a long day of reading and writing.

    Silly thing that happened while abroad: At the very first day, my friends and I had difficulty finding the returning bus stop. It was raining hard and four of us were really clumsy. We tried to ask the drivers in hopes that he would know the bus stop. Fortunately, we found the bus stop.   

    Something you took from being abroad that your now do in the US: I start drinking cream tea in my spare time. (I suppose it’s my way to miss England.) Besides, I start writing blogs to remind myself of the unforgettable study abroad experience in England.

    Why others should go: Getting out of the comfort zone and get to know yourself better. Do it while you are still young and free to go!

    Contact me about England: lylui@ucsd.edu

  • Megan Bright

    Megan Bright

    Home town: Monterey, CA

    Study abroad Location/Program: Berlin, Germany (academic year 2015-2016)/UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Paris, France because I did not initially plan on going, but I went with my sister in the spring and it was amazing. We did a tour of the gardens at Versailles on the day that they re-opened the fountains and it was beautiful.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I always thought it was funny helping american tourists communicate with Germans, like being a translator, or giving tourists directions around the city. 

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Walking! I got so used to seeing the world by foot that I try and avoid driving as much as possible. 

    Why others should go: There is no better way to experience another culture than to live in another country for an extended period of time. You will also meet some of the most amazing people and it doesn't hurt to have contacts in other countries for when it's time to travel again. 

    Contact me about Germany: mmbright@ucsd.edu

  • Katherine Aranda

    Katherine Aranda

    Home town: Los Angeles

    Study abroad Location/Program: University of Cambridge (Pembroke-King's College Programme)  Cambridge, England / UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Portobello Market in London

    Favorite food eaten abroad: NANDOS

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: It was a nice sunny day in Cambridge so I decided to have a run to Granchester, a town that's roughly three miles south of Pembroke College. I reached my destination and got to explore the tiny town so on my way back, I realized that I took the wrong turn on the fork and somehow ended before the roundabout of the freeway. YIKES. Once I realized that, I added an extra two miles to my run and headed back to the fork to run the other way.  

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Having either a hard cider or a glass of white wine after a long day. 

    Why others should go: Cambridge is full of history and when you're there, you definitely feel the weight of England's transformation over the years. I learned how to travel alone, how to pack wisely, and how to finally appreciate an efficient and accessible transportation system, the National Rail and the Tube. Global politics and trade makes a lot more sense when you're in another country as well. Coincidentally, I traveled to England only two days after Brexit happened (England leaving the European Union). As a result, it's super refreshing to talk to locals to learn more about British Parliament and how their society functions as a whole. You also get to see the similarities in social injustices and how the Brits feel just as upset with their political system as Americans today. You meet so many friends around the world and you have the chance to travel with them around Europe! You're living in a different reality than your normal day to day life at UCSD, and it's a nice and heartwarming change. 

    Contact me about the UK: karanda@ucsd.edu

  • Dana Marie Chan

    Dana Marie Chan

    Home town: Macao

    Study abroad Location/Program: Jazz in Paris, Global Seminar

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Montmartre, with its beautiful art work, music, architecture; the churches that are everywhere reminds me of the town that I grew up in.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: All kinds of pastries such as macarons, crème brûlée, crêpes, éclair au chocolat, dome chocolat au lait and cheese.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: During one weekend, my friends and I decided to visit London. We were heading back on the metro to where we were living, when we decided to play a game called “Down by the River”, in which we clapped our hands and sang. We were laughing pretty loudly, which drew a lot of attention from the other passengers. Two British girls came over and asked if they could learn the game and join us, and later another man also came over and joined. Everyone had fun and laughed a lot; it was a great experience.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: In Paris, my friends and I traveled and explored a lot after classes, and spent our weekends visiting museums or checking out nearby places. Now that I'm back in San Diego, even though I am not able to travel around as much, I still love going on adventures and trying out things that I have never done before. I changed the language on my phone to French, even though I didn't really read it, because I thought it would help me to learn the language faster. Now, back in the U.S., I still have it set to French.

    Why others should go: Studying abroad is a great opportunity to learn and to discover more about yourself. You will experience culture shock and experience surprising and sometimes scary adventures, but you will fall in love with the place you visit. It is a great opportunity to make new friends and to study under interesting professors, and will leave some wonderful memories that you will never forget, and experiences that you can tell others about.

    Contact me about France: dmc011@ucsd.edu

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

  • Macey Rafter

    Macey Rafter

    Home Town: Covina, CA

    Study Abroad Location / Program: South Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands / OAP (School for the Field Studies)

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Local ice cream shop in South Caicos. They had $1 ice cream scoops that were delicious during the hot afternoons after field research.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Conch! I don't normally eat sea food but I tried conch for the first time and it was actually really good.

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: One day when we were walking through town, there were puppies that would follow us around town and we got to play with them everyday. They call the dogs on the island "potcakes" because they eat most of the leftover food from people's households.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: Conserving water usage and being environmentally friendly. While abroad, we would take one freshwater shower a week so when I got back to the United States I began to conserve my water usage as much as I can.

    Why others should go: It truly helps you discover who you are as a person and you live another lifestyle. Living in the shoes of others helps expand your outlooks on life and what we take advantage everyday living in the United States. I discovered myself and what I want to do with the rest of my education.

    Contact me about South Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands:  mrafter@ucsd.edu

  • Kevin Fong

    Kevin Fong

    Home town: Moraga, California

    Study abroad Location/Program: Tropical Diversity and Conservation, Monteverde Institute, Costa Rica/UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: The Peñas Blancas Valley.  More green than you can imagine, wildlife everywhere you look, and incredible people there to share it with.  We hiked to icy blue waterfalls, through lush green forest to a lazy river, and to the top of the continental divide to overlook the cloud forest.  An incredible experience being truly in the middle of the wilds.

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Gallo Pinto (rice and beans), Casado with Eladio's Chicken (rice, beans, salad, and mouth watering chicken cooked by a expert field guide and explorer Eladio), and Yippy's (Like Kit Kats but better; helped me survive the 100+ degree heat of Guanacaste)

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: My friend and I hiked up to the continental divide so she could get soil samples for her research project. Just as we reached the top of the ridge, it began to downpour.  I stood underneath a palm tree for shelter as she collected her dirt in the wet. After the 30 minute hike back to the field station, we were soaked -- and still had a 30 minute walk back to our homestays.  Wouldn't trade the memory for the world though.

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US:  Calling people "mae" and taking stock in the wonders of nature.  I've come back with a respect for all living things, from the tiniest insect to the giant crows that hang outside my apartment.  I have a curiosity for the world around me and more confidence in my scientific abilities.

    Why others should go: Why not?  Like everyone else, this was THE highlight of my college experience.  Nothing else will stack up to it.  All it took from me was getting over the fear of the unknown.  I had never been camping in my life, yet I strapped my backpack on and headed into the daunting jungles of Costa Rica.  Getting over that fear was the best decision of my life, even if a did get a couple of mosquito bites.

    Contact me about Costa Rica:  kdfong@ucsd.edu

Study Abroad Returnees in the Middle East & Africa

  • Leor Mekahel

    Leor Mekahel

    Study Abroad Location/Program: Be’er Sheva, Israel, Ben Gurion University of the Negev/UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Skydiving in Akko Israel and Scuba diving in Eilat, Israel and Taba Egypt. Also loved traveling Madrid, Toledo, Granada, Seville, Cordoba, Spain; Venice, Rome, Italy; Petra, Jordan; Brussels, Belgium; Amsterdam, Netherlands.

    Favorite food east abroad: Falafel, Pita, Hummus

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I was traveling to visit friends living in the middle of Israel on Thursday. The day that all the soldiers throughout the whole country go home and the train was completely crowded. I was so caught up in the chaos of the situation that I missed the stop that I was supposed to switch to a different train. For about two hours I was in denial that I missed my stop and before I knew it, I was in the north of Israel! I frantically got off the train when it reached its last stop and had to ride the train back four hours to get to my actual stop. Luckily Israel is a very small country so I didn’t get too far…

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: One of the most important lessons I learned from Israel is to never feel like you need to follow the crowd. Throughout my travels I met so many incredible, unique, adventurous, smart, kindhearted, and open-minded individuals. Everyone had a different story, a different personality, and ultimately a different outlook on life. Sometimes it can be easy to feel like you need to fit yourself into box, but while abroad I realized that the best people I met, were the ones that were so different than the people I have ever known. The moment I traveled all over the world I just felt like the opportunities for adventure and meeting incredible people were endless. I really was able to challenge myself intellectually, emotionally, and physically. I took classes that gave me greater drive and passion to pursue a career in environmental law. Learning how Israel was able to establish peace with Jordan by providing Jordan with the excess water that Israel has from its desalination facilities inspired me that peace can be established through alternative ways, specifically natural resources. Everyday was another day to learn and grow. I had never hitchhiked, couch surfed, or camped in a different country and it gave me greater self-confidence to really go out there and do what I want. I felt like I had broken down these boundaries and limits I had set for myself mentally. Coming back with this new outlook on life has transformed the way I look at my life and my time on campus. I have a greater drive to follow my passion, travel, and experience even more memories similar to what I had abroad but within the states. Coming back, I’ve definitely learned to realize that time isn’t working against you and ultimately life isn’t a race

    Why others should go: I really believe traveling is one of the most incredible experiences you can have in your life. Studying abroad in Israel, the majority of Israeli’s after the army, travel for 6 months to a year abroad after their service and I understand why. We need to find ourselves, challenge ourselves, and explore beyond what we have seen within our community. Unlike Europe, as Americans we are pretty disconnected from the rest of the world. We can’t just hop on a train and go to a country with a completely different language and culture. Traveling abroad taught me how much I didn’t know and how much I wanted to learn! I was able to gain greater perspective regarding how others view the world and how people live. It’s easy to judge from afar what you think about the conflict in the Middle East, but once you talk to Israeli’s and Palestinians, Druze, and Bedouin you learn so much more about the situation. And it becomes FAR from black and white. Whether traveling to Israel or a different location, as students who have been in school for the majority of our lives I believe studying abroad can be life changing.

    Contact me about Israel: lmekahel@gmail.com



  • 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)

  • Jasmine (Akiko) Garcia

    Jasmine (Akiko) Garcia

    Home town: Northridge, CA

    Study abroad Location: Dunedin, New Zealand/UCEAP

    Favorite place visited while abroad: Mt. Alfred - It was a panoramic, mountain top view of what literally looked like "Heaven meets Earth."

    Favorite food eaten abroad: Mussel Chowder (@ Mussel Inn, Golden Bay)

    Silly thing that happened to you abroad: I invested $47 (NZD) in Icebreaker merino wool socks only to lose the left sock on my first night camping.. before even trying them on... And surprise, surprise: apparently, losing a sock isn't covered by the LIFETIME warranty. Now, I have a lavishly glorified sock puppet. Kids, tie your socks together and pack them at the bottom of your pack!

    Something you took from being abroad that you now do in the US: My drive. Being abroad hurled me into a life of constantly experiencing something new. Being back, I have this new-found "go go" mentality that propels me forward in everything I do. That, and the perpetual accident of referring to my apartment-mates as "flatmates."

    Why others should go: I understand the plight of being an animal enthusiast but having little class options through the biology department. Study abroad, however, opens doors for EBE majors to expand their horizon (figuratively and literally) by allowing us Tritons to travel overseas for more zoology geared studies with the great outdoors as your backyard.

    Contact me about New Zealand: jag076@ucsd.edu

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