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UCLA Study Abroad – Cydney’s Story

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Cydney: I decided to study abroad because I
always knew I wanted to at some point when I was in college and the Comm
department actually has classes that you can study abroad for so I decided that
it would be a good one to look into and the Summer Travel Study ones are really
short and they don’t take over any of my fall or spring quarters so the more I
looked into it the more possible it became. I had many concerns going into it
my parents especially were worried about safety. I was also worried about my
academics because I didn’t want to take a whole summer and take classes that I
didn’t need and then also funding I know is always like a big problem for
everybody. All of the concerns over time I found ways to work around them or I
had many counsellors and people who helped me out so it all worked out in
the end. And academically as well study abroad really helped me out. I think as
we come to campus we often are really focused on our grades or our GPA and going
to travel abroad I almost like fell back in love with learning because there’s
not a lot of emphasis on what grade you’re getting or if you memorized X Y &
Z it was more based on like are you getting the information are you
understanding it and are you able to apply it to multiple situations and so
it made me more excited actually to come back in the fall. So I funded my study
abroad program with the help of the IEO office I actually got one of the
scholarships to fund the full program. I know other people also used the
financial aid office which is really nice and a lot of other people also
found outside scholarships that would give them money as well for stuff like
filming or writing about their experience and a lot of it was also my
parents helping out and it was a lot of talks with them about what my budget was
how much I would think I was gonna spend and how much money I wanted to bring
with me. I chose to go to an Asian country so my identity as an Asian
person was helpful and also not. People didn’t
look at me weird which I know some of my white friends were surprised that Asian
people wanted to come up to them and ask for pictures and autographs but for me
it was really hard because I actually don’t speak any Chinese or Cantonese so
being in that space where people assume that I can speak it was almost sad
because I couldn’t say anything to anyone. Lots of memorable moments but one I specifically remember was at the end of
one of my programs in Shanghai me and my friends had been running around all day
trying to meet as many people as possible and we just got to the Bund
it’s just this riverside where you can see all the skyscrapers and all the
buildings. At night they light up all the buildings and it’s really beautiful it was
kind of sad because this was the last time that we were all gonna see each
other in this way but it was a really beautiful moment too because we had just
built up a whole month of friendship and memories. To any prospective student out
there: just do it. I think study abroad is so special and
you don’t really get this opportunity anywhere else especially as college
students. The fact that, as for Summer Travel Study, we get to spend a whole
month with these people and you get to navigate an entire new country with the
same people it’s really special and it’s really unique.
I would also say don’t be afraid of any identity that you have or anything
that’s holding you back there’s always people to help you and there’s always
resources out there if you’re just willing to put them to work and look for
them.

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