Two elephants walk down a dirt path where green native desert plants abound to the left and right; trees and mountains in the distance give way to a blue partially-cloudy sky. On the right-hand side, golden stamp-inspired illustrations of "Cape Town, South Africa," "Nantes, France," "Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam" and student-taken photographs against a tan background.

June 2023

Interested in studying abroad?

UCLA College Magazine recently published this article on the many opportunities offered through UCLA’s International Education Office. Here are excerpts from the article, highlighting the experiences of some of Life Sciences’ undergraduates.



Hometown: Tehran, Iran
Major: Pre-med psychobiology
Study Abroad Path: UC Education Abroad Program

After losing my grandmother, I decided to pursue a career in medicine. My grandmother passed a year after being diagnosed with cancer, but I saw how hard the medical team tried to help her, and at the very least, they were able to prolong her life and reduce her pain greatly. Because of that, I had the chance to spend more time with her. That’s the main reason I’m pursuing medicine: I want to be able to give people a second chance when life does not, or at the very least, ease their pain.

In Cape Town, I interned at a nonprofit that educates young people about preventing STIs, HIV and teen pregnancy. The kids in our township didn’t learn about these things in school — we were their main source of knowledge. But we struggled with attendance, so one day, I decided to plan a fun event with snacks and a movie to encourage the kids to come to our center. We expected only 30, but we had over 100 students that day! I was so happy to help educate them as well as create a memorable event.

Learning how cultural issues can affect health was important to me; in my career and life, I want to approach people of all backgrounds and cultures with respect. I also enjoyed learning about the country’s history and seeing some of its natural beauty on weekly hikes with my South African friends.

I believe when we are placed in a new environment, we face challenges that can make us stronger and wiser. My experience in South Africa helped me learn new skills, increase my self-confidence and become a better version of myself overall.



Hometown: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Majors: Cognitive Science | European languages and transcultural studies with French and Francophone
Study Abroad Path: UCLA Travel Study

My love of French started in middle school, when I did a Belgian exchange program and was motivated to become fluent. I added cognitive science as a second major because I love its interdisciplinary nature, with concentrations in psychology and computer science; this major has also sparked my interest in coding and application development.

Given that climate change is one of today’s most pressing issues, I was inspired to visit Nantes, a city known as a green capital of Europe. I learned that we can take amazing aspects from one culture and adopt them into our own — for example, many of Nantes’ sustainability efforts would be easily applicable here in Los Angeles. I enjoyed our day trip to the salt marshes in the nearby medieval town of Guerande, where we saw the biodiversity up close and observed the ancient practice of salt harvesting.

We learned about Nantes’ history as well: at the height of the transatlantic slave trade, the city was a major slave port, a role it acknowledges today with the Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery. The memorial’s interior was designed to resemble that of a slave ship, and as you enter, you can see the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the word “freedom” written in over 40 different languages.

Language study allows you to build cross-cultural relationships, which are especially important in the rapidly changing cultural landscapes in the U.S. and abroad. I hope to continue to build such relationships here at UCLA and across other communities in the future.



Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Major: Psychobiology, with minors in cognitive science and entrepreneurship
Study Abroad Path: UCLA Travel Study

As I am pursuing a career in medicine, I want to provide the best form of care to a larger body of people. By speaking Spanish, the second most spoken language in the U.S., I hope to aid in minimizing a disparity that currently exists in medicine. I knew by going to Spain I would be pushed out of my comfort zone, but I welcomed the challenge and ended up learning so much in just six weeks.

Before traveling, I read an article about Americans being some of the worst behaved travelers across the world. This is because in general, when Americans decide to travel, we fail to educate ourselves before arriving at the foreign destination. This program taught me to do my research before traveling and recognize the space I will be occupying when I am abroad.

I truly believe everyone has a story comprised of their culture, traditions and experiences. A substantial amount of people believe learning should only be looked at from a traditional schooling standpoint; I challenge that idea by believing some of the most important knowledge is gained by learning about and connecting with others, and in this program I feel I did just that.

Making friends with students in the program and people in Spain was the best gift — I’ll never forget that in our last week abroad, my friends and I decided to revisit some of our favorite places and restaurants. We took group photos, exchanged social media and simply enjoyed the small moments.

I believe a lot of students worry about financials when it comes to studying abroad. I recommend starting early in looking at the various scholarships and resources provided by the International Education Office at UCLA, which allowed me to fully fund my trip.