So You Want to Go Abroad (and You’re a Bio Major): Step 1

By Olivia Meyer | Blogger | SQ Online (2014-15)


The first step in going abroad is deciding what you want. With just about one million programs at your disposal and enough beautiful travel photos to make your head spin, what do you look for?

To begin, ask yourself all of the questions that you’re most afraid of:

Semester or quarter? Will you be behind in classes? How expensive is your trip and can you afford it? If not, can you get financial aid? EAP (Education Abroad Program) or OAP (Opportunities Abroad Program)? Most of these questions can be explored and answered in the study abroad office, but you also have me! Yes, planning is a headache, but studying abroad is an opportunity for college students only. Don’t miss out because the planning is scary. Scary is exciting.

If you have never been abroad, a global seminar can be the perfect introduction – with pre-arranged classes that guarantee academic credit, paid and planned excursions, and the comfort of UCSD’s community, it’s a pretty amazing opportunity. If this sounds interesting, check out the programs abroad office and my upcoming blog posts to read about my experience in Istanbul.

If global seminar is not for you – here are the basics:

1. Semester or Quarter – UCSD is on the quarter system, though most other colleges, especially international universities, are not. Going abroad in summer and staying for fall can be the perfect compromise: you don’t miss too many classes, return in time for winter quarter, and have extra time (summer and winter break) for travel. If you haven’t guessed, this is the scenario I will be writing to you about from Sydney, Australia!

2. EAP or OAP – EAP is better, inarguably, because the EAP office (partnered with the UC system) will work with your college of choice to get you credit. If you don’t want to risk your credits not qualifying for UCSD major or college requirements, EAP is your best bet. They also work with your grants and financial aid to help you pay for your trip. If you’re an out-of-state student, however, your tuition will be almost unmanageable and OAP becomes an appealing alternative. Due to complications and experiences I have encountered since my arrival in Sydney, I will revisit this topic in more detail in a later post.

3. “Where Do I Go?” – Australia (cough, cough), Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Scotland, and England. Notice that I chose mostly wealthy, English-speaking countries because they have the most available research. As biology majors, these are our main options. The English language also makes day-to-day life as a non-tourist more accessible. If your heart is saying something else then make it happen!

My caveat: There is a program for everyone. If cultural immersion in a country that is more distinct from the US is important to you, here are a few options:

Marine Biology – Costa Rica

Animal Biology – Ghana

To find more EAP, biology-specific options:

I know, the first step is exhausting. But just wait for the fun stuff.

–Your personal advisor