The sounds of the Ghanaian drums and the hanging of flags from around the world drew the attention of college students to the Student Center lawn on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011. A white tent was filled with different tables and with students who were waiting to share what they call experiences of a lifetime. The Study Away Fair intent was to provide information to those interested in going abroad for a semester, or even for the summer.
The Global Education Office recently expanded their program, creating partnerships with Jagiellonian University in Poland, The National University of Ireland in Galway, and Kansai Gaidai University in Japan. Beginning in spring 2012, students can travel to these schools as part of the Global Education Office’s attempts to expand programs to Eastern Europe and Asia.
These additional countries, along with the rest of the places the students have to choose, are here for more than a learning experience.
“They provide cultural learning and understanding, increased independence, and experience in living in another culture, part of the world,” Carrie O’Brien, an intern at the Global Education Office, said.
From the time Timothy Francis, the GEO’s senior study away advisor, began his work in the GEO, he says that 99 percent of the students thoroughly enjoyed their time spent abroad.
The GEO always welcomes students who are considering studying away. Located on the third-floor of Elliot, the staff assists students in making decisions as to where they want to study and what would most be suited for them.
“Even if they think they can’t do it, they can,” Francis said.
Each student at KSC has the chance to take a semester and go to the country or state of their choice. The faculty at the Global Education Office highly encourages this, and says that students would not turn back.
“It’s an opportunity for students to live in a different part of the world and interact with different people,” Steven Spiegel, assistant director of the GEO, said.
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The office does not want students to regret their decision to study away or not, and encourages that if they have any questions to go right to the office.
Some students think that they are unable to study abroad due to academics, intramural, or clubs, but the GEO says they can help out. And if a student is unable to study away during the school year there is a summer program as well. Students who have participated during the summer loved it and suggest others do the same.
“It was an awakening experience,” junior Meghan Szymt said.
Whether it was across the country to Alaska or overseas and down under to Australia, students haven’t hesitated about their decisions to study in other places.
“It is the typical best thing I have ever done,” junior Kris Bucyk said.
Taylor Azarian, also a junior, is currently studying abroad in Wollongong, New South Wales. After being encouraged by family members, she is glad she has the opportunity to spend a semester in a country halfway across the world.
“My sisters inspired me to study abroad. They both are older and went to Italy during their college careers,” Azarian said. “They came back with a new outlook on the world and culture and made me realize there are so many places to go and people to meet.”
While taking classes, Szmyt was able to venture outside of her home in Costa Rica, where she spent five weeks with a host family and two other students.
“I hiked the rain forest and surfed in the Caribbean,” Szymt said.
While some were spending time in a tropical climate, others spent a semester up north. And although he may not have been able to see any rainforests, Bucyk, who spent last semester in Fairbanks, AK, found other activities that were outdoors as well.
“There were plenty of trails and nature walks in and around Fairbanks,” Bucyk said.
Traveling during time spent abroad is what many students do. No matter where they are studying, there is always room for adventures.
“I am traveling all over the country and seeing as much as possible while I am here,” Azarian said.
Some of the classes that they took while abroad aren’t offered here, and students took advantage of that.
“I took a Frisbee class and an American Sign Language class,” Bucyk said.
Traveling for some students may be a new experience, and although students may be nervous at first, once they get on the plane and land at their destination, they will not turn back.
“They would never regret making the decision once they arrive. They will see the many benefits,” Stephen Hawes, professor of modern languages, said.
Hawes has been traveling to Spain during the summer with students and said all students should participate in traveling abroad. He said traveling to different parts of the world opens the eyes of others and broadens their minds.
“It helps students become more confident and more self-reliant. It helps them understand how other people live as well,” Hawes said.
Many students are able to sign up to study away. Students are usually asked to have a minimum of 15 credits, and have a Grade Point Average of 2.5 or better.
Around 15 to 20 percent of students each semester study away and they encourage others to do the same. When asked what they would tell others who are deciding on studying away, Szmyt didn’t hesitate to say that opportunities like this are not always available, and if you have the chance, jump on it.
“Take the risk and go with it, you’ll never regret it.”
Lindsay Ross can be contacted at email@example.com