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Bobcats without Borders

Making Friends Abroad

Kayla abroad in Italy
Kayla Rash
Term Abroad: 
Fall 2021

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

A: I chose to study abroad because I thought it would be the best experience to not only travel, but experience the culture with people also looking to do the same! I chose my program because the country it was in was always one I wanted to go to, and it provided a lot of classes I was really interested in that went with my major!

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

A: I'd say the highlight of my study abroad experience was definitely making a lot of friends from other UCs and having the opportunity to travel with them. As well as also having study sessions together given a lot of us were in the same classes.

Q: How do you think COVID-19 uniquely impacted what you learned as a study abroad student?

A: Covid-19 definitely made study abroad more complicated. Complicated as in trying to travel, complicated as in going to school because you weren't allowed to enter the building without certain evidence. It didn't impact what I learned but it definitely influenced how I learned and my overall experience.

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

A: My greatest challenge abroad was feeling out of place and like I stood out. Being American, African American, and plus size definitely did not allow me to blend in as much as I'm used to in the us. I overcame this feeling by accepting that the only way to normalize things was to create more exposure. Having this mentality helped me put my own mind at ease and feel more comfortable.

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

A: The coursework itself was not very different from UC Merced, it's how the curriculum was delivered that was very different. Transitioning from having assignments to turn in all the time and multiple exams to having zero assignments and one final exam that counts as your final grade was very challenging to adjust to.

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

A: I gained more perspectives, bonds, culture differences, and travel experience. I learned to be more comfortable with being uncomfortable because there was lot of instances where I forced to be out of my comfort zone but now I feel that if I could do those things then there's not a lot that I can't do. I gained a lot of friendships from this program, friendships that I feel confident will last a very long time, if not a lifetime. I'm so fortunate to have been able to travel while abroad, especially with all the covid19 measures in place.

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

A: The advice I would give to students would be to make sure to stay on top of their work while abroad. It makes it a whole lot easier to study in little parts with distractions versus trying to cram everything in the end. It's really important and will probably help with the stress.

Q: Describe a typical day abroad.

A: A typical day in study abroad for me was to wake up, eat a bowl of cereal, attend my classes, take a train to Venice and have lunch, take pictures, take a train back to the city, and ride scooters back to our dorms.

Q: If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go and why?

A: I would go to Switzerland. I would go there because being in Italy I was so close to Switzerland but I didn't have enough time to make it there even though I really wanted to.