By going to Latin America or Spain, you will deepen your knowledge of the surrounding culture, and enjoy the youthful atmosphere of university settings abroad. From museums and architecture to music, cafes and pubs, studying abroad is an energizing adventure, and that eventually teaches you much more about YOUR OWN SELF than you ever imagined. To maximize your experience, don’t hesitate to go for extended stays: 6 months is better than 3, and a full year much better than six months. The reason is simple: language (and what comes with it) can’t be learned over night, and to truly acquire fluency, non-native speakers will need to stay a minimum of half a year.
Students who spend 6-12months abroad:
1) invariably have the EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME
2) grow in ways that other students who “stay behind” (at UCI ) do not
3) greatly increase their chances of being accepted into competitive graduate programs
4) generally acquire advanced foreign language skills “in a hurry”
Changing your perspective
If you go abroad with an open mind, then you're certain to return to the U.S. a more enlightened person. One of the major benefits of studying abroad is its ability to broaden your world understanding and perspective on just about anything. You gain a different view of international affairs, from politics to economics to social issues. You also return with a deeper understanding and respect for your host country, knowing how another culture approaches daily life and unusual challenges.
You may also return with a new appreciation for the U.S. (coming back to California will be wonderful!). And best of all, ¡hablarás español como un pajarito!
Jump-starting your career
Studying abroad typically gives your resume a nice boost and improves your post-graduate employment prospects. Nowadays, employers actively seek college graduates who have spent time studying abroad because they want employees with an international knowledge base as well as high-level foreign language skills.
The same international skills that make you more marketable for employment are also valued by graduate schools. These skills include cross-cultural communication skills, analytical skills, teamwork, flexibility, an understanding of cultural contexts, the ability to adapt to new circumstances and deal with differences, a developed view of the world outside the U.S., independence, and self-confidence.
There can be no doubt: studying and traveling abroad will make your UCI experience immeasurably richer!
Postscript 1: The most difficult step about EAP is to DECIDE TO ACTUALLY GO! Muster the courage and decide NOW!
Postscript 2: Do send me some photos from abroad! -> firstname.lastname@example.org