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