Why Study Abroad?
Read Current Students' Perspectives on Studying Abroad!
Longwood students are blogging about their experiences abroad. Find out what they're saying here!
There are many reasons why study abroad should be a key component in your educational plan. View the following PowerPoint and read the student essays to get an idea of why YOU should study abroad.
Why Study Abroad? Top Reasons Why Study Abroad is a Must (ppt) By Elizabeth Kunc
By Marcia Biddle
If you want to learn about someone walk a mile in their shoes. What greater way is there to understand another culture's point of view than studying abroad? Studying abroad is a life changing opportunity that benefits not only you but our nation and the world.
Sure, you have read about other cultures in books and seen them on television but that does not compare to the feeling that you will get when you throw yourself into another culture. Break away from your cultural norms and experience what it is like for those that live in other countries. Interact with another culture and break the cultural barriers that you have had your whole life. Become more independent and reflect on what it means to be who you are. Leave your home behind and experience a new world outside the one you are familiar with and you may begin to view yourself and your culture in a new light.
Think of what studying abroad can do for your career. Studying abroad is so much fun you will forget that you are gaining academic credit while visiting another country. Not to mention the knowledge and experience that can help you succeed in future career options. The studying abroad experience is a great addition to any resume and can help you snag the job of your choice. Employer's desks are covered with stacks of applications but your experience from studying abroad will set you apart from other well qualified applicants.
Our nation is hurting because of our ignorance of the different cultures around us. As college students we can start a trend and begin to rid the United States of cultural ignorance. Study abroad and show how accepting the American people can be. People in other countries who meet you form their views of America so while studying abroad helps our nation to gain a better understanding of other cultures, it also helps others better understand the United States thus preventing world conflicts.
Try to picture a world where people are not allowed to leave the country that they are born in. Imagine the consequences we would face if we ignored the world around us. Lack of knowledge and understanding of other cultures could lead to disaster. Every culture benefits from the values, beliefs, traditions, and experiences of other cultures. The world is a better place when there is understanding among different cultures. Therefore, if you study abroad you can be an essential part of keeping the world together.
By Andrea Candea
We all want the newest, shiniest, and fastest thing that is available. It's a need of the senses to have something unique. If our senses never perceive anything new, we as people will never develop, but instead stagnate. The best way to avoid this stagnation is to change our environment through fresh experiences. As a life changing and incredibly meaningful experience, I personally suggest traveling abroad as the best possible way for individual, professional and character growth.
The experience abroad is enhanced by the senses. In London, near the British Museum, you can taste the best pasta you've ever had. The quaint city of Bath has the ancient Roman Baths, with the intriguing pungent aroma that keeps you inhaling deeply. In Paris, a block away from Notre Dame, your eyes will be filled with the bright stained glass, statues and colorful walls and columns of Sainte-Chapelle (not to mention what you may see when you slip into the Louvre!). As for sounds, you will be unable to even sum those up into one statement. Just imagine the melodies of street musicians mingled with the fluid sounds of foreign languages, some you may not be able to recognize. In countries where you do speak the language, talking to locals and receiving that friendly handshake, bow, or even a high five, will be an experience that touches you in a way you can not explain to someone who was not there.
Of course, your common sense plays a role too. Financially, there are scholarships, fellowships and grants for studying abroad. It may even cost less to go to another country than to stay in this one for a semester, especially in relation to the future. Students who study abroad have additional talents and skills that look very nice to their potential employers. In this world which is becoming smaller every day, one who travels abroad will be better equipped for the "real world" with skills and deeper understandings of countries that other job seekers cannot have.
Lastly, there is your sixth sense, which knows, not only would it be fun, exciting and one of the greatest adventures of your time at Longwood, it would also be a time to know yourself. To become stronger, wiser and more culturally well-rounded is the goal many colleges have for their students. Our university insists we can be more; we can be citizen leaders. Not just citizens of this school, state or country, but citizens of continents, oceans and mountains. The sixth sense knows this world is vast and diverse. Our senses know that we can be citizens of the world. Traveling abroad is one way to, figuratively speaking, give us each a multi-national citizenship. So, to each student, let us say: "Go forth, follow your nose and claim your homelands!"
By Kristen Gaines
Studying abroad is like jumping off the pages of a favorite novel and experiencing the hodgepodge of images that have been left for us to form ourselves, or so I would imagine. I have never been abroad physically, although my mind has been there many times. I have made predictions about what it would be like to walk the English countryside, cross the Galway Bay to the Aran Islands and even dodge bullets in Kabul during the Soviet invasion. The way I see it, what good is a prediction without a means of verification? The more I read, the more I long to be immersed in the culture of my favorite characters from world literature. But this is only the spark that ignited the fire.
There are obvious advantages to studying in another country. For example, academic credit is always a good thing, not to mention the boost it gives to your resume. It is the perfect tool for individual improvement. However, I am more interested in the real life experience. I studied French for three semesters, and there is nothing I would like to do more than plunge into the raw and uncensored culture of France. I studied British Literature, which was fascinating, but it would be nothing compared to visiting the places where the stories were written. I have assumptions about what I think Spain looks like or what Italy smells like; however, being able to say I know would be much more satisfying. It will lead to the debunking of stereotypes and the widening of horizons. However, that is only the beginning.
I am afraid my argument would not be truly convincing without a cheesy, but sincere, anecdote. So, in the spirit of deliverance, I can not end this essay without talking about Yao Mei. Mye, as I call her, is my roommate here at Longwood. I regret not embracing the thought of living with an international student earlier. However, I was young and naïve. Mye is the best thing that has ever happened to me at Longwood. Notwithstanding the strange food she offers me and the Chinese music I deal with to humor her, she has given me much more then I fear I am able to give her. She has taught me about China, its language and traditions, things I never thought I would want to know but that I am now glad I do. I can not stand the thought of not reciprocating by sharing my own version of American culture with the world. I want to be able to touch another person's life the way Mye has touched mine.
Even if your desire to study abroad does not emerge from an imagination inspired by the world of fiction like mine did, it will be a life experience that will serve you well. From practical rewards like resume building and academic credit to spiritual transformations like self-fulfillment and the sharing of knowledge, studying abroad will certainly change you, and you will become a better person. And, by creating better people, we will inevitably create a better world.
By Brittany Hackenberg
According to Merriam Webster, a Cathedral is defined as "the principle church of a diocese or any of various important churches." Sitting in my Art History classroom in high school, my eyes were opened to the architectural and artistic value these buildings give to their society.
While cathedrals are merely large churches to the average person, the word "cathedral" now means so much more to me, thanks to a study abroad opportunity I was given at the end of high-school. It evokes a feeling of mystery as I remember wandering around the basilica of Notre Dame in Paris. It brings me to the beautiful day we spent traipsing around Canterbury as we watched the swans that were whiter than snow swim around in a nearby lake. As a Catholic, hearing that word makes me drift back to the Vatican and recall creeping around St. Peter's Basilica in sheer awe while touching the walls and feeling the stones that had been laid so long ago. Only when you experience, first hand, something you are passionate about, can its true meaning come to life. My senses were aroused as I got to see, feel, and hear every place on my trip through Europe.
Why wouldn't you study abroad? Is it because you are afraid of culture shock? Or maybe you don't think you'll like the food? Could it be you don't want to admit it, but you will miss your parents if you are away for so long? Going out of the country is possibly the single scariest, most thrilling and life-changing thing that will ever happen to you. It tests your limits to the furthest extreme by making you laugh and cry, probably more than once within the same day.
I recall my time in England. While getting on the tube, I somehow managed to lose my flip-flop. Afraid I would be left behind, I made the decision to leave my shoe instead. I then proceeded to complete a two-hour walking "Jack-the-Ripper" tour through the rainy and dirty streets of London, BAREFOOT! Knowing I could do nothing about the lost shoe led me to laugh it off and "suck it up." Looking back on the situation makes me realize how lucky I was to have that happen to me so early in the trip. It taught me to improvise, not to sweat the small stuff, and to let things go if they were out of my control. These are three very important lessons that, I believe, people can only understand once they are completely out of their comfort zone...and in another country.
So, do it! Study Abroad! It will make you a better citizen leader. You will now understand different cultures and more importantly, you will realize that "culture shock" is not a bad thing. Whether it be creating a new definition for "cathedral" or losing a flip-flop underground in London, you will make unforgettable memories that will redefine you and how you view your place within the world.
"Cathedral". Merriam Webster Online. 18 January 2008. <http://m-w.com/dictionary/Cathedral>.
By Kyle Gannon
"Experience it all!" That's what I was told by my mother the day I left for college. Everyone always says that college is about learning and growing. It is about experiencing a lot of things for the first time, as well as learning from past experiences. "Do all you can and take advantage of all situations put in front of you because you may only have those opportunities once." That might be the best advice my father gave me, and what better way to experience and do it all than by studying abroad?
Learning should be about more than just the words written in a book. Learning about history in those fields where battles took place would be amazing. What better way to learn a foreign language than to be surrounded by that culture? Take a novel to the next level by reading it exactly where the author placed the characters. All these scenarios can be brought to life through study abroad programs. Taking students and placing them in areas around the world in order to get a first-hand take on subjects can change their world. Even better, it can raise their desire and understanding of education to another level.
I want to be able to experience everything and get my education through more than just a book or a lecture. Experiences can mean a world of difference and make a student exceptionally well-rounded. Through studying abroad, the understanding of a new culture in itself is a learning experience. Education means more to me than just what I learn within the walls of a classroom. Education is about knowledge of different cultures and collaborating with diverse people about topics of all kinds. How can someone be a well-rounded and educated person without being entirely informed about the world in which they live?
If people are only exposed to one idea, or one way of viewing things, that is ultimately what they will believe. But there are many ways of understanding the world, and you will never be able to articulate an informed opinion if you are not exposed to differing perspectives. That is why I feel that everyone should take advantage of learning around the world. Learn as much as you can through first-hand-accounts. Learn from the people who have experienced world events, from those who have lived what you're studying. Studying abroad is about opening your eyes to the world around you and getting an education beyond that of a textbook or a lecture in a classroom.
I traveled to Italy in the summer of 2005 with a few friends and got a little piece of a pie that I never knew I would end up craving! It's amazing to see how other places experience life. I learned so much about Italian history even though I wasn't there because of academic reasons, and now the thought of "history" doesn't bring the ho-hum boredom that it used to for me. I can't even imagine how much I could learn through a teacher in a city like Dublin or Madrid. Education consists of experience in order to be a well-rounded student. My father actually had a good point, for once!
By Thomas Edwin Scott
"Youth," Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, "is the time to go flashing from one end of the world to the other...to try the manners of different nations; to hear the chimes at midnight..."(Stevenson). As a freshman at Longwood, I feel that it is my time to go flashing across the world, to a nation where I can utilize the language skills and social obligations my professors have instilled in me. I believe that studying abroad will lead to great advances in my education, allowing me to immerse myself in a wholly different culture and gain valuable perspective on different ways of life. In addition, I feel that I myself have something to offer the country I study in, as both a student at Longwood and as a citizen of the world.
Dr. Hildebrandt's Spanish 201 this semester has made me committed to becoming bilingual. A self taught jazz guitarist, I am no stranger to working hard regardless of classroom requirements. When I asked Dr. Hildebrant how she thought I would fare in a Spanish speaking country, she said she was confident I would not only survive, but "thrive". Studying abroad would solidify my usage of Spanish and give me the confidence to add it as a minor, increasing my marketability when I graduate. As our nation becomes more and more diverse culturally, the need for a second language, especially Spanish, is increasingly needed. A semester studying abroad will be essential to truly master the Spanish language apart from a textbook.
Society would benefit from my study abroad, which would allow me to utilize the humanitarian instincts my professors have instilled in me. Taking Dr. A Fink's Power of Water class fall semester helped me recognize that many South American, Spanish-speaking countries suffer from a lack of basic necessities. I could spend part of my time studying abroad helping an impoverished community, using the luxuries of science and medicine that we in the United States take for granted to promote longevity and raise the quality of life. Although I am an English major and not planning on a career in medicine, I know I am capable of learning and administering basic medical practices. I feel it is my duty as a Christian and a citizen of the world and society at large to not look the other way when I see suffering.
Today the United State's is at the nadir of its international esteem. The actions of a few men in Washington are representing our whole country to the world, and it is a representation I wish to amend. Through my studies abroad I plan to show that some Americans are not too arrogant to learn a different language apart from English and that some Americans do not wish to force their culture and beliefs on others.
I feel that studying abroad would be a life changing experience, opening a world of opportunities for my education and benefiting both the community I represent and the nation I study in.
Stevenson, Robert L. The Mind of Robert Louis Stevenson: : Selected Essays, Letters, and Prayers. Ed. Roger Recklefs. New York: Ayer Publishing, 1963.
By Jennifer Morrill
Today's world is becoming more interconnected by the minute. With advancements in technology and interest in foreign affairs, it is becoming increasingly necessary for students to be able to interact with other cultures. The best way to show that you are capable and willing to interact with other cultures is to go abroad.
Once you finish college, you are going to be faced with many challenges in the "real world". Companies and Graduate Schools want to see that you have the ability to cope with various situations. Having good sense of your own values and biases is important. Traveling abroad exposes people to cultures and cultural norms they may not have been previously aware of. It also makes you more aware of your culture and how it differs from others. Bathrooms are a great example of this. In America, shower curtains or doors are in almost every shower. One can assume with confidence that a shower in California and a shower in Maine will both have a shower curtain or door to stop water from spraying all over the place. However, traveling to Greece taught me not all showers have this. Instead there is a drain in the middle of the bathroom floor to catch the water that has flooded the bathroom. While your knowledge of foreign bathrooms may never come up at a board meeting, it does make you very aware of the differences between cultures.
A recent study on the benefits of studying abroad by Mary M. Dwyer, Ph.D. and Courtney K. Peters in Transitions Abroad Magazine shows that students who go abroad become more "respectful of other cultures and political and economic systems" and have often "served as a catalyst for increased maturity". These are qualities employers and graduate schools will be looking for. Many big name companies have locations all over the world and will be looking for people who can travel to foreign countries without offending or being offended by the difference in cultures. Even if you end up working for a company that does not require you to travel, a Study Abroad course shows that you are able to handle change and working with a variety of people.
You might be able achieve all of this by planning a trip on your own, but why not take advantage of the knowledge of the professors and staff coordinating trips through Longwood. They will take you to places you would have never thought of visiting and they have access to resources and areas in the various countries that you could never go to on your own. A Longwood professor provides insight into cultures a general tourist might never discover.
Americans tend to take for granted all that we have and assume our way is the only way. Studying abroad provides opportunities to dispel these myths and provides the opportunity to learn about other cultures that otherwise would be lost.
Dwyer, Mary M. and Peters, Courtney K. "The Benefits of Study Abroad:New Study Confirms Significant Gains" Transitions Abroad Magazine. March/April Vol. XXXVII, NO. 5 <http://www.transitionsabroad.com/publications/magazine/0403/benefits_study_abroad.shtml> Accessed March 20, 2007
By Jason Bergman
When I first heard the details of a particular study abroad exchange program it was from a friend who had a friend that went on that program. Naturally it sounded too good to be true so I treated it the same way I would junk mail that promises millions of dollars; I threw it away. I was under the mindset that if the program was so great then more people would take advantage of it. I was very interested in traveling, though, and one day I saw a link on the Longwood website to some study abroad information. I humored myself the same way I do at a weak moment in life when I actually open the junk mail just to be sure I'm not a millionaire. After researching it and asking some more direct sources, I found I could do exactly what I wanted to do. I could become immersed in a culture for a whole semester while only paying Longwood tuition and room and board fees. I could spend one semester at a big city college with over thirty-thousand students that costs more pounds than I'm paying dollars here! I felt like I had won the million dollars from the junk mail.
I know how important this would be for my education because as a psychology major I am very interested in the behavioral differences in cultures and am anxious to see some first hand. As a history minor I am also very interested in seeing world history through a different perspective.
A common reaction from some of my peers when I tell them about my plans to study abroad is to just visit the country on my own. But I know the difference between visiting a foreign country and living in a foreign country. When you visit a place you see the tourist sights, maybe a museum and take a few pictures (all things I plan on doing), but when you live in a foreign country you really experience their culture the way the locals do. When living in a foreign country you get to do things like make close friendships with the locals instead of just chatting with them at the bars. I know Longwood's study aboard program is the best opportunity I'll have to truly experience a different culture short of completely moving overseas and I'll be able to say that I didn't just visit a foreign country, I lived in one.