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COVID-19 Message from UC Merced Study Abroad

Please know that we are here to help you dream and plan to go abroad whenever you are ready and programs can reopen. (More info)

Caroline at the University of Hong Kong
Caroline at the University of Hong Kong
Caroline Velez
Major: 
Political Science
Program: 
Hong Kong
Term Abroad: 
Spring 2019

Q: Initially, what made you decide to study abroad? Why did you choose your program?

A: I have gone abroad in High School to Beijing, China and since then I had the urge to travel and explore the world. Coming to college, I was worried about the expenses for I come from a low-income family and I felt that studying abroad was not an option for me. However, I decided to work and financial aid actually covered most of my expenses so it made it possible for me to go abroad. I chose this program because I had done Asia before therefore I wanted to experience more time studying and living in a country that is out of my comfort zone. Also, Mainland China and Hong Kong are two different places. I also chose Hong Kong because my roommate motivated me to do this program with her which was a fun experience to do.

Q: What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

A: The highlight of my study abroad experience is going with my closest friend. She was my home away from home which made it easier to transition into the study abroad experience. Her being with me for a few weeks and throughout the journey, I did not feel homesickness from my family. Also, I formed a friendship bond with my other roommate who became my support system throughout the semester which I will forever be grateful.

Q: What was your greatest challenge abroad and how did you overcome it?

A: My greatest challenged abroad is not having control over what was going on in the States. There were issues that I knew that if I was there I knew how to solve it however it became stressful for me to deal with. I learned to not put too much attention to the issue and also ask for others that were there to help me on my behalf.

Q: How did your coursework abroad compare to your courses at UC Merced?

A: I was able to comprehend the materials but it was different from courses at UC Merced. I actually became appreciative of the course work and teaching method that I am taught at UC Merced because I felt professors at HKU cared more about going by the book than seeing the importance of students understanding the concepts. Despite the different teaching methods, I was able to still keep up and learn new concepts from the classes I took.

Q: What did you gain from your study abroad experience?

A: There is so much I learned and gain towards my growth and development. I feel more confident in my actions by knowing that I can achieve anything. I became fearless which has motivated me to go abroad once again after college and finding a career outside the states. I am not afraid to travel to another country because I know that wherever I go, I know how to take care of myself and at the end of the day I will be just fine.

Q: What advice do you have for students considering study abroad?

A: I recommend study abroad for everyone, it opens career opportunities that you may have not thought about. For my experience, I was not sure if being a diplomat was something I wanted to do but going abroad helped me figured that out. I plan to be a diplomat but there's a path to get there and I feel that study abroad opened so many opportunities towards to help me get there. Also, it challenges you, socially, mentally, and academically.  You will be surprised how much you changed and how it helps in your future endeavors. Lastly, take the risk, after college it will be difficult to travel but in college, we are given so much and if we don't take the risk we can end up regretting it. I know many of you might be scared of making friends, school, or being away from family and that's understandable but don't let that not stop you for having the time of your life. All come in good time, that's something I learned and I am glad that I took the risk to go out of my comfort zone. Always look at study abroad with an open mind. You never know what surprises and experiences will have you looking back and appreciate that you took the risk. Good Luck!

Q: Describe a typical day for you abroad.

A: I wake up at 9 am to go to my morning classes which usually start at 10 am. I take the bus to school and finish at around 2:00 pm. After my friends and I finished with school, we take the MTR to our favorite place to buy boba. After that, we go back to our flat to do some homework. At around 7 pm we go out to MongKok to do exploring and shop for clothes or eat street food. Around 12 AM we go back to our flat and end our day.