Fall study-abroad program gives freshmen a jumpstart

Studying abroad is a special time in a student’s life. Finding the right time to do it, however, isn’t always easy. During junior and senior years, classes get tougher, and satisfying high-level requirements, say, in Italian, might not be feasible.

But now, a new program called Global Edge offers newly admitted freshmen the chance to study abroad during their first fall semester at UC Berkeley.

students in London

This fall, newly admitted freshman will spend the semester in London as part of Global Edge. (Photo by Jessica Bauer)

Rick Russo, dean of the study abroad program, says that because Global Edge is in its pilot year, the applicant pool was limited to students offered spring admission in the College of Letters and Science.

This fall, 57 of them are studying at the UC Education Abroad Center in London. During the semester, they’ll take culturally relevant classes that also meet breadth requirements at Berkeley, including courses on British theater and a political science class that compares the politics of the UK and India. (Before students left for London in mid-August, they spent a summer session on the Berkeley campus, where they took a reading and composition intro course based on British literature.)

“I think it’s really key that we have the summer,” says Russo. “Their first day at Cal isn’t in London. They were here on campus for eight weeks, they made friends with students who were staying here through the fall who they can reconnect with when they come back for spring semester.”

Students receive funding for the program based on financial need, the way they would for any study abroad program. Some received scholarships of up to $7,500.

“We really wanted to make sure that it was accessible to all Berkeley students,” says Russo, “so we worked closely with financial aid to be as generous as possible in helping students afford it.”

Global Edge is part of Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ larger goal for every student have a study abroad experience before graduation.

Russo, who hopes to send 70 students to Rome next year through Global Edge, says he wants to see the program expand and evolve over time. “We hope to grow this to a point where spring admission is unnecessary,” says Russo, “where everyone would have the option.”

Learn more about Global Edge on the program’s website.