Bear Abroad Natalia

Natalia Brusco

Major: Business Administration


"I changed completely. Coming in as a moderately shy person, I left as a confident, independent individual with life-long friends and connections with people from around the world." 


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

I wanted to study abroad so I could see the world from a different perspective. Being halfway around the world, surrounded by people I have never met before, each with unique backgrounds and cultures, seemed like an amazing opportunity to me.

I asked myself the question, why not study abroad? The opportunity to learn and engage with different cultures and adopt new customs is an experience everyone should have. I chose London not because it was the only option for Global Edge, but also because I felt comfortable living in a foreign country where I spoke the native language. London is the most multicultural city in Europe and I knew by choosing this program, I would be able to immerse myself into an abundance of different cultures and meet diverse, unique individuals.

What was the most interesting cultural experience you had abroad?

It is difficult to choose just one cultural experience as there were so many I encountered. The Notting Hill Carnival is one that stood out to me. This is Europe’s largest street festival that takes place once a year to celebrate the Caribbean community. With the loud music, delicious food, on-going spectacular parade, and thousands of people, the theme of racial-unity is apparent throughout the two day festival. The vision of the Carnival back in 1966 was to have people of all different races dancing in the streets together— and when I attended in 2017, this was definitely the case.

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

My biggest challenge was being on my own. Remembering to buy and make food ahead of time, budgeting my money, and balancing school work with traveling were all concerns I had before moving to London. I responded by making a plan after the first week. This plan consisted of a weekly budget that categorized food, travel expenses, dining-out meals, and theatre plays. I stuck to this plan every week in order to ensure that I had enough money to cover my time abroad. Creating a schedule for my homework, projects, and completing assignments as I was given them also helped with my time management.

Describe a typical day for you abroad.

A typical day abroad begins with me waking up to eat with my three other roommates and then heading to the bus about 100 meters from our flat. Always going to the top floor of the double-decker bus, I would sit at the front and watch all the strangers outside walking to work, going for a run, or waiting for another bus.

Then I would have class that lasted two to three hours with a professor that made the time fly by. Sometimes, instead of having class inside the building we would meet up at different districts of London to do a walking tour and learn the history of the area. After this, I would have the rest of the day free. I would go to lunch with friends, go shopping on Oxford Street, walk around Hyde Park, or explore the British Museum. Then, I went home where my roommates and I planned group dinners with students from other flats.

In the evenings, there was always something to do from studying, watching another play, going to a Trivia Night competition, or walking around Covent Garden to hear street artists with the lights shining above them.

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

I took four classes while abroad including Political Science, Calculus, English, and a London Museums course. These courses abroad integrated the city of London into everything we learned. Whether it was reading a book based in London for English class or going to one of the many London museums for Museums class, I was able to learn about the history of London from the beginning.

Also, instead of having class three times a week for one hour as we have at Berkeley, I had class once a week for three hours. Having class compacted into one session a week like this was very helpful while abroad because then one would have an entire week to finish homework assignments and only have to attend school once per day, leaving the rest of the time for studying and exploring.

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

The most meaningful aspect of my time abroad was being able to explore places around London that I learned in my classes. I was able to view museums such as the British Museum, Tate Modern, The Museum of London, and the Natural History Museum with a different perspective because of the fact that they were so close. Further, when going on walking tours in different districts of the city, the teachers would point out many different, amazing historical places and because of this, I was able to go back and spend more time. Also, when reading books, I would know what the author was describing since I had either been on that street before or visited the place they were mentioning.

I will never forget how valuable my classes were when learning about the areas and places around me.

What impact did studying abroad have on you personally?

I changed completely. Coming in as a moderately shy person, I left as a confident, independent individual with life-long friends and connections with people from around the world. Personally, I was pushed to grow up, focus on myself, and be open to new cultures and customs that I came across.

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

If you are a student considering studying abroad, I would highly recommend choosing London. As one of the most multicultural cities in the world, I could have stayed there for years and still not have seen everything there was to see. Because I was able to communicate with the people, it was easy to get to know someone and I felt comfortable talking to any of the friendly people that walked by me.

I would also recommend traveling as a freshman if you have the chance as it prepares you for college in ways you can’t imagine. Building confidence steadily, trying new things without blinking, and wanting to meet anyone you come across are just a few of the things you gain from studying abroad early on.