I am an impulsive person. While some of my rash decisions have led to some little regrets, I can safely say that my decision to go abroad was one of the most rewarding experiences in my undergraduate career. In this article, I’ll walk you through my process of internships abroad as well as tips for your own study abroad journey!
When I got to college, I knew that I wanted to, at some point, go abroad. Up to this point in my life, the furthest I’d lived from home was in Berkeley (which isn’t that far from Los Angeles). I wanted a chance to experience new cultures and be more independent, and I felt like going abroad would give me that experience and more as I navigated being in a new environment. I had originally set my sights on studying abroad in Japan, where I had found a program that suited my interests and major. However, COVID brought some unprecedented changes to my study abroad plans. While the study abroad program offered a “virtual experience” for students, I felt that I wanted to wait until I could actually go to a new country and experience the program in person. Unfortunately for me, Japan’s borders had stayed closed to study abroad programs despite Berkeley coming back in person, meaning that I wouldn’t be able to attend the program I had hoped to.
However, closed doors led to new opportunities, and my desire to go abroad still hadn’t changed. From there, I did more research on the programs offered by the university and found an internship abroad program that checked all of the boxes on my list. As a business student, I wanted to gain experience in a business-oriented environment, and Singapore was exactly that. From the application process to getting to Singapore, I always felt like I had a welcoming community of advisors to support and guide me. When I caught COVID abroad, I had such an amazing support system to help me navigate the Singaporean medical system and still have a safe and rewarding trip.
Singapore was AMAZING. I had never been to the country, so I walked in with very few expectations and was pleasantly surprised. I was able to immerse myself in the culture through living there over the summer as well as taking a course in the country’s history. Having a favorite cafe to study at, knowing how to navigate the train system on my own, and being able to show a visiting friend around gave me a sense of belonging that I wouldn’t trade for anything else. I am eternally grateful for the friendships I’ve made during my time in Singapore, and I am even more grateful for the memories that I can cherish for the rest of my life.
Now, onto my tips on acclimating to a new environment and how to start your study abroad experience! The first tip I can offer is to do some research. Although choosing to intern in Singapore was semi-impulsive on my part, I was sure to at least do some research on the country and program before choosing to apply. I would recommend checking out Berkeley’s study abroad website to get an overview of all programs offered to find the best fit for you.
For all my financial aid besties, make sure to fill out your FAFSA! Once you’re in a program, there may be scholarships, loans, and other financial aid that is disbursed to you automatically because you’ve already filled out the FAFSA. There are also lots of resources for global financial aid, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your program advisor!
Lastly, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone! One thing I’d recommend to make acclimating easier is to research the place you’ll be staying in. Look up the area around your dormitory/residence, near schools (if you’re studying abroad or work if interning), places you might want to visit during your time there, and ways to get around. See if the local area speaks English, and if not, try learning a bit of the native language (especially essential phrases for navigation/food/etc)! I’d also recommend looking through social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok to find any miscellaneous travel hacks and tips. A lot of influencers and locals have posted really helpful tips to make travel transitions much smoother, so don’t feel like you need to do all the heavy lifting!
Going abroad is all about trying new things and being out of your comfort zone, so hopefully these tips will help you have a fun and stress-free time wherever you go :) Safe travels and go bears!