Written by John Preer
The study abroad program at VSU allows students the choice to travel to many different countries and pursue many different subjects.
For a relatively small price, VSU students have the chance to travel to various countries around the globe and experience entirely different cultures while earning the credits necessary to graduate.
The benefits of the program expand far beyond simply earning course credits–students who participate in the program also have the opportunity to visit some of the major attractions in the country of their choice. These attractions include everything from zip-lining in the jungles of Costa Rica to perusing the galleries on display in The Louvre in France. For students worrying about the cost of the program, it may curb their anxiety to know that depending on your circumstances the cost of summer study abroad is only $1,700 more than taking courses at VSU and living on campus. Another great advantage of the study abroad program is the boost it can give to a student’s resume. Along with leadership positions in clubs or organizations and internships, semesters spent studying abroad are some of the main attributes that employers look for.
The advantages of study abroad go further than professional and academic gains. Students who participate in study abroad also experience a personal growth that can only come from world travel.
“Just the experience of examining our habitual ways of doing things is valuable,” Dr. Kenneth Kirk, professor of music at VSU and site director for the USG Paris summer program, said. “And in study abroad students test themselves in new situations and learn to be more self-sufficient and resourceful. Reading a train timetable, reserving a room in a youth hostel, ordering a meal in Spanish: these are all ways that students grow and become more self-reliant and confident through study abroad.”
Another one of the major apprehensions students may have about study abroad is adjusting to the different cultures, and in some cases completely new language. However, the truth is that there is no language barrier for students in the abroad program. Many programs are designed so that American students take classes taught in English by American professors. It may even amaze some students at how easily they can immerse themselves and assimilate into an entirely unfamiliar culture.
For students who have some interest in participating in the study abroad program, but lack the necessary finances to fund the trip friends, family, churches, and civic organizations are good sources. Generally Hope, Pell, and many other scholarships can be used to help pay for the program. In addition, the VSU Center for International Programs is supervising a fundraiser that students can take part in. So not being able to pay for the program may not be as big of an obstacle as it seems.
Study abroad and travel in general can be so life-changing as well as incredibly fun. Students who have studied abroad may have a hard time explaining the experience to someone who has yet to travel.
“When you return home, your new knowledge of subjects that you might not even have know existed before can continue to widen and develop over a lifetime,” Dr. Kirk, said.