Happy 50th Birthday to the UC Education Abroad Program
The UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) is commemorating its 50th anniversary this year by offering students study abroad opportunities at top-ranked universities and institutions in 36 countries worldwide.
According to UCEAP’s website, the program started in the fall of 1962, when 80 students from the University of California studied abroad in Bordeaux, France for one year. Since then, UCEAP’s diverse study abroad programs have enabled students to enrich their studies by exploring the world, learning new languages and gaining global perspectives through culture immersion.
The comprehensive courses taken abroad can be conveniently transferred over to fulfill UC degree requirements. The UCEAP website also states that more than 76,000 UCEAP alumni have pursued diverse fields of careers such as industry, public service and academia.
Barbara Bodine, a lecturer at the Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs at Princeton University and former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, is one of UCEAP’s distinguished alumni that studied abroad in Hong Kong while attending UC Santa Barbara.
“[Studying abroad] confirmed that I really did like the international world and that I loved living abroad,” Bodine said on UCEAP’s 50thanniversary webpage. “By the time I left Hong Kong it was close to an obsession that I was going into foreign service.”
Brandon Brown, a lecturer in UCI’s Department of Public Health, remembers his study abroad trip through UCEAP during his sophomore year here at UCI in 2002.
“From a young age I’ve always wanted to travel abroad,” Brown said. “Studying abroad in Singapore interested me because the curriculum was in English and I was able to continue my studies in mathematics while exploring different parts of Asia.”
While studying abroad in Singapore, Brown discovered his interest in public health and eventually shifted his career goals.
“Before I studied abroad, I had plans to become an actuary,” he said. “I did a project model on HIV cases while I was in Singapore and it triggered my interest to travel to South Africa and to pursue a career in public health.”
As the only international student in his class, Brown acclimated to his surroundings with the support of Daisy Ling, a long-time UCEAP Singapore Study Abroad staff member. “I used to call her momma Daisy,” Brown recalled. “She made me feel comfortable, like a mother away from home.”
Jordana Cox, a UCI alumna and current foreign service officer with the Department of State, first studied abroad on the Queen Mary in London in 2001 for her general education requirements and later studied abroad in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in 2003 through UCEAP. As a double major in drama and political science, studying abroad opened her eyes to foreign affairs.
“My experiences with UCEAP made me want to live and work overseas, which is something that I had never considered before studying abroad,” Cox said. “As a diplomat, I lived in Nepal for two years and am moving to Mozambique this month. The State Department has taught me how to speak Nepali and Portuguese.”
Cox shows much gratitude for the opportunities studying abroad has given her. “I owe the inspiration for choosing this fabulous career to UCEAP,” she said. “UCEAP is an exceptional program. There are unique benefits that I encourage students to take advantage of.”
UCEAP even offers scholarships to qualified applicants who are interested in studying abroad. “Lose your doubts and study abroad because this will be your only chance in life where you will be able to go and not have any responsibilities holding you back,” Professor Brown said. “Sometimes you can get the trip paid for if you work it out right.
“Choose a program that seems right for you. Maybe it’s just for a summer, or a semester, but even just a few weeks overseas will change your worldview for the better. You will learn that we are all more alike than we are different — and this is a wonderful thing!” Cox said, sharing the same sentiment.