Berkeley Study Abroad Fair - September 27 in the Pauley Ballroom

Veronica

Veronica Schwabach

Major: Economics

"Among the most meaningful aspects of my time abroad are the connections that I made. I befriended students from other UCs, students from other countries, and people at the Parliament. I am still in contact with many of the people I met. On my way back to Berkeley, I took a trip to Australia to visit some of the friends I had met in Scotland."


 

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

I've always loved Scotland and Scottish culture, and in fact I nearly went to the University of Edinburgh for my undergraduate degree. But since I ended up at Berkeley instead, spending a semester on exchange at the University of Edinburgh was the next best thing.

I chose the Scotland Intern program because of the unique opportunity it presented to intern at a foreign parliament. My long-term goal is to work as a diplomat, and the international work experience I gained from my internship at the Scottish Parliament is invaluable.

What was the most interesting cultural experience you had abroad?

During the summer in between my semesters in Scotland, I spent two months in Paris studying French. While I was there, I did a homestay, living with a French family. It helped me to adapt and integrate into the Parisian culture and to learn a lot about the family I lived with, as I was included in the activities of their daily lives: outings, grocery shopping, meals, even religion.

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

For me, the biggest challenge of my study abroad experience was being away from my family and friends for so long. However, the friends I met abroad came to be as important to me as those in California, and after the first month or so of being abroad, I rarely felt homesick at all.

Describe a typical day for you abroad.

I worked at the Parliament from 9 - 5, Mondays to Thursdays. Around noon, I would meet up with the other interns at the staff canteen for lunch. After I left work at 5, I went home for a few hours to relax and then sometimes went out to dinner or to the pub with the others in my program, or with people I met at the University of Edinburgh.

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

The first semester, I took an economics class, Economics of Transition, and two business classes, Applications of Finance and International Business and the Multinational Enterprise. Compared to Berkeley, the classes were much more self-directed. We had fewer contact hours and nearly the entire course grade was based on the final exam. In terms of difficulty, I would say that the subject material and grading standards were relatively similar to what I've experienced at Berkeley. The second semester, I took two political science classes at the UC Centre Edinburgh, Parliamentary Studies and INGOs. The structure of these classes was similar to classes at Berkeley, with many assignments and a few presentations, and a final essay exam for each at the end.

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

Among the most meaningful aspects of my time abroad are the connections that I made. I befriended students from other UCs, students from other countries, and people at the Parliament. I am still in contact with many of the people I met. On my way back to Berkeley, I took a trip to Australia to visit some of the friends I had met in Scotland.

What impact did studying abroad have on you personally?

Studying abroad made me much more independent, capable, and mature.

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

Scotland is a wonderful country and I highly recommend it. The university program is a lot of fun and the classes I took were very interesting and definitely on par with classes at Berkeley. I loved the internship program, and it was a really rewarding experience. However, be prepared for long hours and hard work; I had much less free time than in my semester at the university.