OPINION: Studying abroad, something you can’t pass up

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What is the big deal with studying abroad? Why do people talk about it all the time?

Well, the big deal is that it is one of the most valuable and life-changing experiences that someone can have while they are in college.

Studying abroad allows students to travel, experience new cultures, meet new people, expand their career opportunities, develop language skills and so much more.

“Study abroad is beneficial in a variety of ways, but the biggest benefit are the variety of unique skills you develop on study abroad programs,” Joseph Milostan, interim director of K-State’s study abroad program, said. “You also benefit by continuing to earn credit, which can be applied towards your graduation requirements.”

Milostan said that studying abroad is useful for students, because it gives them a unique set of skills that benefits them in both their personal and professional lives. After studying abroad, students are more competitive in the job market once they graduate.

“Most fields are global these days, and KSU graduates need to have an understanding of their field of study or major outside the U.S.,” Milostan said. “Study abroad allows students to learn about their discipline from a different cultural perspective and allows them to develop skills that employers value, such as creative problem solving, experience interacting with people from different backgrounds and many more.”

Andrew Nation, sophomore in athletic training, studied abroad at the University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia last fall.

“It was a really good learning experience,” Nation said. “I got to be independent. I also got to meet people from all across the world. I made so many memories and I feel like I have an emotional connection to the city and the people.”

Nation encourages students thinking about studying abroad to take advantage of the opportunities available.

“Do it,” Nation said. “It’s scary, because the paperwork can make you think that it is not worth it, but it is. The experience you have abroad is unlike any other that you will have here.”

K-State offers a variety of study abroad programs that students can choose from, including faculty-led programs, exchange programs, direct-enroll programs, program providers, volunteer opportunities, service-learning, internships, research and teach abroad programs.

Students looking to study abroad at some point in their college career should stop by the Study Abroad Office. Its advisers can go into more details about different programs, and they can help choose a program that works best for each student.

Studying abroad, like all things worth doing, is not always easy. Not only can it be more expensive in some cases, but students can also feel homesick, experience culture shock, have difficulties with language barriers and the classes may be more challenging.

Not only that, but if you do not take time to plan out your college career, studying abroad may be more difficult to do as you progress through the years. Some of the classes that you take abroad may not transfer.

Milostan said studying abroad can be difficult for students who do not dedicate the appropriate amount of planning time prior to their trip.

“Ideally, students should start thinking about study abroad during their first semester on campus,” Milostan said. “They should become familiar with the different program options, and which fit best with their major or minor.”

Hank Riscoe, sophomore in architectural engineering, is currently studying abroad at Charles III University of Madrid in Spain.

“For me, I had difficulties with the strict schedule,” Riscoe said. “The whole teaching system here is completely different. The teacher will start speaking Spanish and it was hard to understand.”

Despite these difficulties, Riscoe said studying abroad is definitely worth it, and he would recommend it to other students.

“It is an invaluable experience that you won’t experience ever again,” Riscoe said. “I don’t want to sound cliché, but you truly do see the world.”

There may be challenges to studying abroad, but you should not overlook all the great things that you could gain from it. The benefits outweigh all of the difficulties. For some people, studying abroad may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Take a chance, live life and go on the trip of a lifetime.

Hannah Vu is a sophomore in mass communications.

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