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Kiki Wong

Kiki Wong

Major: Environmental Economics and Management Policy - Global Studies Minor

"I studied abroad because I have never traveled outside of the US before. I always knew I wanted to travel and meet new people and experience the things and culture I would see on TV in real life."

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

I studied abroad because I have never traveled outside of the US before. I always knew I wanted to travel and meet new people and experience the things and culture I would see on TV in real life. That's why I chose to do Global Edge - London and studied abroad my freshman year. I wanted to see the world as soon as possible and this program allowed me to do so.

What was the most interesting cultural experience you had abroad?

One thing that was really interesting to experience while abroad was hearing the big news stories in London and the history of the city that I never would have known about if I was still in the US. One example was the huge political issues the UK was experiencing last fall with the general election. Another thing was learning more in depth about Brexit.

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

One of my biggest challenges was budgeting while abroad. As a low-income student I was fortunate enough to be able to go abroad with the loans, grants, and scholarships I received. But in order to really experience London's culture, such as its food, plays, and palaces, I had to budget my money. This meant finding ways for cheap travel, cooking a lot of meals at home, and other budgeting tricks. One thing that was really great about going abroad through UCB was that my program, Global Edge, offered a lot of cultural activities through the school for a very affordable prices. This allowed me to experience much of the art and history for much less than the cost of an average tourist. Between the reduced pricing of activities through Global Edge and budgeting, I was able to have an amazing and fulfilling experience during my semester in London.

Describe a typical day for you abroad.

A typical day for me was waking up in the morning in my flat at Canada Waters, London, and making some breakfast before I headed to the Tube to catch the subway to get to class near the British Museum. It usually took a 30-45 min commute to get to class from home. I had about two classes each week and each class was three hours long (which could sometimes a little brutal when sitting through calculus). After class I would grab lunch at a nearby cafe or sometimes go to a different sector of the city to go and explore with my friends. In the late afternoon after a couple of hours in the heart of the city I headed back to my flat to relax from a long day and make a snack before I began my homework. Sometimes for dinner I would invite friends over to hangout and make dinner together or go out again and have fun!

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

In the fall semester of Global Edge I was taking Calculus (Math 1A), Ancient Philosophy (PHILOS 25A), Introduction to Comparative Politics (POLSCI 2), and Reading, Composition, and Research (COLWRIT R4B). In comparison with Berkeley classes, the size of the classes were much much smaller. This was really nice because it meant you could really connect with your classmates and professors. I was able to go up to the professors after class whenever I had questions or trouble with a concept. And in terms of difficulty most of the classes are about the same difficulty as they would be at Berkeley.

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

The best part about studying abroad was all the things I was able to see. Just strolling along the street or sitting in a bus and watching everything pass by was breathtaking. The architecture of the places I visited and the people who lived there all rushing by. And to be able to photograph it all (photography is one of my favorite hobbies) was such an amazing opportunity. It's was so incredible to be able to take it all in and experience it with your own eyes rather than just watching it from your phone!

What impact did studying abroad have on you personally?

Studying abroad really solidified my interest in traveling and just made my passion for it grow. It also made me realize how easy going abroad or traveling by yourself can be with the proper research and budget.

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

I highly recommend to anyone who does Global Edge to try and go to all the different sectors in London. There are so many different places to go in London besides the typical "tourist" spots that everyone visits. I wish I had gone out and explored more of them rather than going to the same few big places in London I did. One thing I think is important is one's mindset when studying abroad in London, especially during the rainy season. The cold and rain can definitely deter one from going out and exploring the city, so it's important to have some really good rain gear! That means a good rain jacket, some waterproof shoes, an umbrella, and some clothes to keep you warm! Just because there's rain doesn't mean exploring the city is impossible. There are plenty of cool cafes, museums, shops, and pubs to go into and stay warm.

How has study abroad influenced your future career path? Or, how do you see the skills you gained while abroad translating into the field you want to go into?

I knew I wanted to incorporate traveling into my future career, which is why I want to work in international business with a focus in sustainability. So studying abroad gave me one of the best opportunities to experience what it would be like to live for a period of time in other countries. It gave me the skills necessary to be able to travel on my own, navigate a foreign region, and the appropriate behavior when interacting with different cultures.