The Lure of Study Abroad
When I went to college I never got to reside outside of New Jersey. In my day far fewer students studied abroad, although college was much cheaper. But my loss is today’s students’ gain. Every school that I have visited offers study abroad. However, different programs take different approaches.
There are several advantages to study abroad:
- You get to become acquainted with a different part of the world and a different culture.
- In some cases, you have a challenging problem-solving exercise that you’re not likely to face at home. Imagine being the Peace Corps, but only for a short time, to picture the experience.
- There is the opportunity to perfect language skills.
- You get to take a longer visit than you are likely to take in your working life.
- Aside from air fare, the passport and medical preparations, study abroad costs no more than study on campus.
- Any scholarships that help to reduce your costs to study on campus also reduce the costs of study abroad. .
The easiest study abroad programs for students to work with are that affiliated with the school.
Here are two good examples.
- Miami University of Ohio, a public university, owns and operates its own campus in Luxembourg. The John E. Dolibous European Center recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. John Dolibois, for whom the European campus is named, was born in Luxembourg, immigrated to the U.S., came to Miami as a student in 1938, and returned to his homeland as U.S. ambassador during the 1980s. The Center is housed in a beautifully renovated 15th-century château. Miami’s programs welcome students from other universities as well.
- The University of Rhode Island offers a five-year International Engineering program. Students earn a degree in their chosen engineering field as well as a foreign language (Chinese, French, German or Spanish). The first four years of the program are spent on campus, the fifth is abroad. The fall semester is spent taking language, culture, and engineering courses in the host language. The second semester is an engineering internship with an approved employer. The university also offers an International Business program that combines language study with business courses culminating in a year-long academic and employment experience abroad.
Other universities lead classes abroad, but do not operate campuses.
Service projects led by faculty members are one example. These might run a full semester or during break times. Students sign up for these projects as they would for a regular class, so registration is seamless.
Another option is to attend courses at a partner university in the host country that has been chosen by your school.
Ideally, any credits accumulated at the partner university will seamlessly appear on the transcript. However, it’s wise to check that in advance. While a course in, for example, German classical music may likely transfer towards a music degree or a German degree, a course in the History of Heavy Metal Music in Postwar Germany might not transfer to anything.
The most rewarding study abroad programs will be those that provide a mix of classroom instruction (including foreign language emersion) and experiential learning that cannot be duplicated in a U.S. college classroom.
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