Q&A with the new ESC Intern: Claire Darling Watts

Let’s start with an introduction:

Hi everyone! My name is Claire. I am incredibly excited to be working as Programme Intern at the Edinburgh Study Centre this year. Last June, I graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science and Sustainability, and I was also lucky enough to study abroad with UCEAP at the University of Edinburgh back in Spring 2017. After graduation, I spent five months traveling in Southeast Asia while working online as a freelance writer and web developer. During my travels, I began to miss working as part of a team that is truly dedicated to serving and empowering others, so I decided that I wanted to make that happen again sooner rather than later. And that’s what lead me here: living in one of my favorite cities of all time surrounded by some really inspiring people.

What was one of your favourite memories from your time studying abroad?

I think we can all see how difficult this question is – there are so many! Something that initially comes to mind is joining the Salsa Society at Edinburgh Uni. I’d go to Bachata classes every week and it was an insane amount of fun. Other memories include going out to breakfast way too often in Edinburgh, hillwalking during a snow storm in the Scottish Highlands, traveling to Italy and Greece with my awesome friends, and visiting Berlin with my partner who I met while abroad!

What impact has studying abroad left on your life?

Studying abroad was a major catalyst for my personal growth on so many levels. I gained independence, confidence, humility, perspective, and deeper respect for people’s livelihoods, no matter where they are in the world. It also made me feel more comfortable with discomfort; my willingness to travel, question things, evolve, change my mind, work hard, and pursue what I’m passionate about has only grown.

What advice would you give to students who are considering studying abroad?

Studying abroad is like jumping head-first out of your comfort zone and then realising that you can fly. Do it. Even if it gives you butterflies and anxiety. You will have amazing support along the way, and you will be extremely glad you did. Also, UCEAP is great because you can make sure that you’ll get UC credit for your classes, no matter how intensive your major is!

What does your position at the ESC entail?

As Programme Intern, I am responsible for social media, blog writing, website management, student outreach, and some event planning!

What inspired you to apply for this position and what are you looking forward to the most about it?

I love the idea of making international education as accessible as possible to students of all backgrounds. It’s such a privilege to be able to study abroad, and I wanted to be a part of the efforts that support students when they take such a transformative opportunity for themselves. This is why it’s so great that UCEAP offers access to financial aid and a variety of other resources that ensure students have an amazing experience. I am most looking forward to connecting with all of you (the students!) and acting as a source of positive energy and support. 🙂

What will you miss most about California?

My communities! A lot of wonderful people in my life are currently living in California. But there are some of us, like me, who are scattered around the globe, and I know we’ll all be in touch thanks to the wonders of this digital age. And, of course, I’ll miss Mexican food, sunset walks by the ocean, and my dog.

List one interesting or unexpected fact about yourself?

I absolutely love being outside. Whether it’s hiking, camping, backpacking, rock-climbing, skiing, swimming, strolling, picnicking, etc., count me in. I also enjoy dancing like no one is watching, cooking delicious meals, campaign organizing with my friends, reading Tarot cards, and speaking really loudly when I get excited.

Thanks for reading!

❤ Claire