Bear Abroad Shalina

Shalina Bulchandani

Major: Molecular and Cell Biology


"I just have two words: DO IT!!!! What is a better time than now to see the world and expand your knowledge about different cultures, food, and history???"



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

As soon as I found out about the Global Edge Program upon admittance to UC Berkeley and how it was possible to study in London my very first semester of college, I jumped at the opportunity. I always knew that I wanted to study abroad and Global Edge provided this while simultaneously helping to complete General Education and major requirements with a small community of students in the same position as myself. It also provided me with a way smoothly transition into college.

What was the most interesting cultural experience you had abroad?

For me, it was when I traveled to Munich, Germany. London is similar to my hometown of San Francisco, so I did not find the culture too different. The culture in Munich, however, is vastly different. When I had visited in mid November, there was already Christmas decorations everywhere and a massive Christmas fair was being set up. For me, the seeing the remnants of Nazi history and eating German cuisine (Kaiserschmarrn [pancakes, caramelised sugar, and apple sauce dessert] is to die for). I was able to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp which was an eye opening experience. It is one thing to learn about all the horrors from Nazi concentration and death camps, but it is completely different to actually see where the struggle took place, hear accounts, and witness how daily life in the camp was like.

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

The biggest issue I faced was the living situation in my flat. My roommates and I were placed with the female RA for the group. The RA was disrespectful to the common spaces (for instance, in the kitchen, she would leave dishes and food out for days), giving different treatment between myself and my roommates , and disrespecting our wishes (and the organization's rules) regarding having overnight guests multiple times. After not being able to resolve these issues after confronting the RA, one of my roommates and I wrote a letter to the organization that had hired her informing them of the situation with the RA and how we had tried to come to a resolution only to have her disrespect us.

Other than the situation with the RA, it was initially a struggle adjusting to life in London with respect to making it feel like home, cooking, and getting around. That was quickly resolved after becoming familiar with the city and spending time with friends.

Describe a typical day for you abroad.

On a typical day, I would take the redirected 73 bus line that stopped right outside of my flat to Chenies Street and then walk a couple blocks going past the British Museum. After class, I would either walk back to the flat taking varied routes to see different parts of the city or take the bus/tube to explore a street or museum. Twice or so a week, I would go to Sainsbury's for grocery shopping.

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

I took Comparative Politics, London Museums, London Theatre, and R4B: Reading and Composition. Each class compared differently to Berkeley courses; however, cumulatively, the courses were easier than at Berkeley. The Comparative Politics course was the hardest course that I took and it was about the same as Berkeley classes. Similarly, the R4B course was about the same but it was a bit easier than the Reading and Composition course I took at Berkeley. The other courses were much easier than Berkeley courses particularly because they were centered visiting different Museums and seeing different plays/performances.

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

For me, it was the communal dinners that myself and my other flatmates would with other students participating in the program. The dinners were opportunities to grow stronger as a community and we celebrated moments such as 19th birthdays, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.
An additional memorable aspect of my time abroad was travelling to different cities around Europe from Edinburgh to Munich, walking around those cities, experiencing the culture, and eating the cuisine of the region.

What impact did studying abroad have on you personally?

I have been fortunate enough to be able to visit foreign countries prior to Global Edge. However, getting the opportunity to LIVE in another country is completely different than just visiting for a few days. Studying abroad provided me with the opportunity to create new experiences, gain knowledge, become more independent, and make valuable friendships which will all last a lifetime.

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

I just have two words: DO IT!!!! You will not find a better opportunity to live in London (unless you end up moving there after graduation), travel around Europe, or get to know other wonderful individuals with whom you form strong friendships.

What is a better time than now to see the world and expand your knowledge about different cultures, food, and history???