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Brandon Pundamiera

Brandon Pundamiera

Major: Ecosystems Management and Society and Environment

"I would recommend planning all your outside trips (like on the weekends) ahead of time. Unless you want to spend a lot of time planning it during school, then you should get a list of things you want to do before hand. That way, you can modify and add things that maybe you didn't think of before. Planning trips can take a lot of time and can be very stressful. Also, if you can take a cultural class, like a Haka class, then do it! You won't regret it. Lastly, HAVE FUN!!!!"

What led you to study abroad? Why did you choose your country/program?

I wanted to study abroad because I knew that traveling is one of the best educational experiences that anyone can receive. I knew that not everyone has the opportunity to experience studying and living in another country. I also love traveling and exploring the world.

What was the most interesting cultural experience you had abroad?

The most interesting cultural experience I had abroad was taking a haka class that I got college credit for. It was a beautifully taught class and I learned a lot about Maori culture.

What was the biggest challenge/concern of your study abroad experience? How did you respond?

The biggest challenge/ concern of my study abroad experience was not having enough money to pay for all my expenses and everything else I wanted to do. However, I applied for the Gilman scholarship and got financial support through that. Thanks Gilman Scholarship :)

Describe a typical day for you abroad.

Surprisingly, a typical day abroad was similar to a typical day at Cal. I would just wake up in the morning, go to class (or gym depending on what time my class was), study, and eat dinner. The weekends are when it got interesting.

What coursework did you take while abroad? How did courses abroad compare with Berkeley classes?

I took an upper division Environmental Science class, a lower division Earth Science class, a Pacific Studies class, and a haka class. The classes were about the same rigor. They just had a different "style" to them. For instance, I was surprised to see that the material I learned in my Environmental science class was very specific to a few case studies rather than general knowledge about the environment. Also, the clarity of assignments was not very specific and there was no "babying" to help you understand what you needed to do.

What was the most memorable/meaningful aspect of your time abroad?

The most memorable and meaningful aspect of my time abroad was the hikes and backing trips I did around New Zealand with the many friends I made during my time abroad. I met a lot of great people and saw so much beautiful scenery that I will cherish forever.

What impact did studying abroad have on you personally?

Studying abroad made me realize the importance of telling stories and that realizing that everyone has their own different stories. As I lived in another country, I began to appreciate and respect peoples' differences more. Additionally, I started to be more confident in telling my story and how my past has made me who I am today.

What would you recommend to students considering studying abroad, especially to your country or program?

I would recommend planning all your outside trips (like on the weekends) ahead of time. Unless you want to spend a lot of time planning it during school, then you should get a list of things you want to do before hand. That way, you can modify and add things that maybe you didn't think of before. Planning trips can take a lot of time and can be very stressful. Also, if you can take a cultural class, like a Haka class, then do it! You won't regret it. Lastly, HAVE FUN!!!!