Coronavirus (COVID-19): The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority. Please see current information and updates related to study abroad programs. Berkeley Study Abroad is currently offering virtual services. Please see our Advising Guide for more information.

Michael Xia

Michael Xia

Major: Business Administration and Data Science, Spanish minor

"Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to not only visit alumni, professionals, and eventual friends from various career paths, but also sparked my interest to pursue finance as a result."

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

I studied abroad through the Haas Global Management Program, and as a result, had the opportunity to study in London during my first semester of college.

What was the most interesting cultural experience you had abroad?

The most interesting cultural experience I had abroad was when I visited Germany's annual Oktoberfest in Munich with a few friends from my business Program. There, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in Germany's rich culture and festive activities. At the end of the event, we were able to celebrate with some traditional German food (and drinks!).

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

The biggest challenge of my study abroad experience was ensuring that I was not only making the most of my time living in Europe but also taking care of myself as well. For instance, since there were no meal plans in London, I had to intermittently go out to buy groceries and house supplies. As a result, it was very important for me to balance my coursework and travel with my personal health as well. London thus gave me the opportunity to really budget my time (and money) and monitor my overall well-being.

Describe a typical day for you abroad.

A typical day for me abroad would consist of: waking up at 10AM after hitting the snooze button a couple of times, running to make the next Tube ride, commuting (30 minutes) to the ACCENT London Study Center, occasionally grabbing some You Me Sushi right after classes had ended (check out their end-of-the-day discount + student discount!), and commuting back home to make dinner, finish homework, and spend time with friends.

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

I took English, Theater, Political Science, and Philosophy while I was in London; these classes satisfied my UC Berkeley breadths. The classes were a lot more relaxed and qualitative (e.g. more writing-based) than my Berkeley classes.

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

The most memorable moment of my time abroad was probably when I scaled the tallest mountain bordering Poland and Slovakia. During this time, one of my friends from international high school hosted me in Poland and asserted that we would be climbing the tallest mountain in Poland, Mt. Rysy, immediately after I arrived at his place. However, what I did not expect was that the journey to the top would consist of us sleeping on the floor of Warsaw's train station the night before, followed by an uncomfortable 2-hour bus ride to the base of the mountains at 4am, and ultimately a freezing experience overall as we were hiking during the wrong season: winter. However, in hindsight, this experience ultimately came to be one of my most memorable moments, as not only did I overcome the initial physical and mental hardships of the journey, but also came back home with incredible pictures and memories as a result.

What impact did studying abroad have on you personally?

Studying abroad not only gave me the opportunity to develop my independence as a young adult but also allow me to flourish as a more open-minded person as well. For example, the opportunity to attend cultural festivals such as Oktoberfest and visit historical sites such as Versailles opened my eyes to different perspectives and histories. As a result, today I am not only able to better relate to new people but also have a better understanding of different backgrounds as well.

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

I would definitely recommend to visit as many places and meet as many people as you can! One of my favorite trips was actually after my Global Edge Study Abroad semester had ended when I decided to stay an extra week in Europe. Because I had developed meaningful relationships meeting old and new friends throughout the semester abroad, these friends offered to host me later on as well. As a result, I had the opportunity to live in Poland, Paris, and London at my friends's homes after the semester had ended and experience life from their "local" perspective!

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?

Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to not only visit alumni, professionals, and eventual friends from various career paths, but also sparked my interest to pursue finance as a result. Through my study abroad experience, I had the opportunity to attend a company visit to Goldman Sach's new London headquarters, as well as network with various Haas alumni at other firms. As a result, these experiences helped spark my interest to pursue finance, and I still use these stories during job interviews today when asked, "Why Finance"!