Written by Tiana Foster, Staff Writer
If you’re planning to study abroad, whether as an undergrad or graduate student the VSU Center for International Programs, located on Georgia Ave. next to the health center, offers inexpensive opportunities for students to travel and gain a knowledgeable experience while fulfilling credit hours. The program allows students to spend a summer, semester or participate in a year-long exchange program.
Hannah-Jio, foreign language and interdisciplinary studies major, explains that the three most popular programs for study abroad is Spain, Czech Republic and Germany. The Spain program offers a summer long stay from June 20 to July 23. The program is intensive in Spanish and fulfills beginner to advanced level courses. The Czech Republic program is most popular for psychology majors. This program is also available to students in the summer from May 9 to June 5. The Germany program is concentrated in both business and sociocultural studies. This particular program is required for any international business major. Croatia is also offered to those who major in international business from May 15 to June 8.
The cost of these study abroad programs varies depending on the countries and time length of the trip. Students who decide on a semester or year-long exchange will be charged VSU tuition, dorm fees and meal plan fees. The trip price covers only tuition and fees and students are responsible for airfare and any personal expenses. France is the only program that includes airfare with tuition and fees.
Financial aid is available to students wanting to study abroad. Most federal programs increase the amount of a grant if a student needs to cover any additional cost. The Pell Grant and HOPE Scholarship cover most of the cost but if not there are several different scholarships offered to cover the remaining fees.
The International Program understands that covering the expenses could be a hassle for some students. They offer fundraisers for those who need to raise money or extra funds. The European Council proposes different fundraising ideas for those seeking help. The council suggests sending letters to friends, relatives and coworkers requesting donations to support the trip but also explaining the benefits of international traveling. There are fundraising websites available to help collect donations from friends, family and even random donors. This sort of fundraising is not a quick process. Students will have to continue to promote and reach out to others in order to have a successful outcome.
Jio describes how she started a fundraiser by selling Yankees Candles in order to help fund her study abroad trip.
For the first time, VSU is offering fall fundraisers for students which allows more time to raise money for their trip. Initially, only spring fundraisers were available and resulted in some students not being able to raise enough money in those months. The VSU International Program is looking forward to a successful outcome from the new addition.
There are several benefits that come from traveling abroad like experiencing a foreign culture, learning how to communicate in a foreign language and increasing employment prospects. When visiting other countries, students gain a first-hand understanding of the culture. Spending the majority of the time around native speakers of a foreign language helps students learn the language faster and more fluently. Employers find great value in candidates who have some international experience and are able to communicate with others in a different language.
Study abroad is an opportunity for students to learn hands-on information while experiencing life in a foreign country. The experience students’ gain through study abroad benefits both academically and personally. Any student considering to study abroad should weigh out all of options before making a final decision.