Study Abroad offers students new opportunities, experiences

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One place many students travel to study abroad is Italy. Studying abroad is a great way to meet new people and learn a different culture. (George Walker | The Collegian)

Studying in an exotic country filled with new and exciting culture is a dream that many students have throughout their time in college. Warm beaches and medieval castles can be an enticing thought, especially when coupled with the prospect of being able to continue an education outside the U.S. For many students, studying abroad is one of the ultimate college experiences.

Taylor Morse, junior in business marketing, experienced firsthand the excitement of studying in a foreign country. Morse travelled to Italy during the fall 2014 semester and studied at the Universitá Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan.

“I loved living in Milan; it is a big city so there is always something to do and new people to meet,” Morse said. “My program did a good job of having events for all the exchange students to meet each other so it was easy to make friends to hang out with and travel on the weekends.”

In addition to new friendships and experiences, studying abroad can offer students other benefits as well.

“It just gives you so much confidence to know that you can start somewhere new, not even knowing the language, and still be able to do all the things you need and want to do,” Morse said.

Nelson Pence, junior in entrepreneurship, is a student peer adviser for K-State’s Study Abroad Office who can attest to the benefits of studying abroad.

“Doing a study abroad looks really good on a resume,” Pence said. “It shows initiative and willingness to adapt to new environments. It can allow for some great opportunities and connections.”

Pence spent the fall semester of his sophomore year studying at the University of Sydney, in Sydney, Australia.

“It was very eye-opening,” Pence said. “It can really open your eyes to a new culture; it is a very humbling experience.”

Despite the many benefits, studying abroad can still present challenges to many students. Obstacles such as finances, separation from friends and family and language barriers can often times stand in the way of really enjoying where you’re at. Many students also worry that studying abroad will set back their planned graduation date.

However, financial aid is available to help students with the costs as well as scholarship money. In addition, students are encouraged to work with the school in order to help plan an educational experience that progresses their graduation plan instead of setting it back.

Pence said he encourages students to pursue a study abroad program, even if there is a language barrier.

“There are programs in tons of different countries,” Pence said. “Students can go to English speaking countries. We encourage students to learn as much about the culture, including the language of a country, before they visit – but we don’t require them to know the language. We do have people go abroad with no knowledge.”

Romy Sagen, junior in kinesiology, is currently studying at the Universidad de Alicante in Spain. Sagen said her decision to study at this university stemmed from her desire to improve her Spanish and having the ability to travel during the weekends.

“I’ve wanted to go to Europe since I was 16 and studying abroad during college seemed like the easiest and most reasonable time to go,” Sagen said.

Though she has experienced a few of the hardships that can come with studying abroad, Sagen said she has been able to cherish the experience.

“I already miss things like fast food restaurants and hanging out with my friends at home, but then I think about how great of an opportunity I’ve been given that it doesn’t phase me if I miss people or if I’m graduating late,” Sagen said. “My friends are still going to be there when I come home and technology is always going to keep you connected.”

The study abroad office at K-State offers Study Abroad 101 sessions every week Monday through Friday for students who are interested in obtaining more information. The office is located at 304 Fairchild Hall. Specific times for the sessions are available on their website at k-state.edu/studyabroad.

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