Teaching & Learning

Study Abroad Broadens Perspectives

The Student Life section of Utah State Today highlights work written by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. Each week, the editor selects a story that has been published in The Utah Statesman or the Hard News Café or both for inclusion in Utah State Today.

Study Abroad Broadens Perspectives

By Marissa Neeley, staff writer, The Utah Statesman, January 9, 2014

USU Study Abroad offers opportunities around the world for all students. There are semester-long opportunities, short-term faculty-led opportunities from those interested in languages or business opportunities for those who want to travel or do service.

USU has partnerships with institutions in various countries so they can provide the opportunity for students to participate in an exchange program, which allows them to change places with a student at the school in their desired location. This keeps it affordable, according to Kay Forsyth, director of USU Study Abroad in the Office of Global Engagement.

The other options are short-term programs lead by faculty of USU. These programs can take place over spring break or during the summer. Faculty-led trips are generally less expensive if there is a big group going, Forsyth said.

“There are 20-25 faculty-led short-term opportunities,” Forsyth said. “Most are in the summer, being about four to eight weeks long with students earning school credit.”

Nancy Hills, an associate professor for the theatre arts department, has led a study abroad for humanities for thirteen years. In this particular study abroad, participants fly to Rome, take a train to Florence, then Paris and end the trip in London.

“It’s important for it to really be a positive experience,” Hills said. “I’ve gotten great feedback over the years.”

Funding for studies abroad is important. There are national scholarships that students, including students who already get pell grants from the government, can apply for.

“99 percent of the time, students will be able to use financial aid and scholarships to pay for it,” Forsyth said. “Some partner institutions offer scholarships just for USU students.”

Brady Stanger, a senior majoring in international business, said he was able to do this when he studied abroad.

“I did my study abroad to Beijing Spring 2012,” Stanger said. “I just used my financial aid money and money I saved up for.”

Hills said the cost is for her study abroad is about $4,200 without airfare, and that amount pays for hotel, passports and visa expenses. It also provides students with 12 credit hours. She said they try to keep the cost as inexpensive as possible.

There are around 200-250 study abroad opportunities from partner institutions with pricing based around USU tuition and a little on the provider, Forsyth said.

“When I went, we lived in international housing,” Stanger said. “Most of my friends were from Saudi Arabia or Russia, not Chinese. It became a big family out there. Chinese food is much better there. (The) hardest thing was to get food due to not knowing the system, language or cost. By the end, I could get around as long as it wasn’t too specific.”

As for the most common or popular programs, Forsyth said it just depends on the student’s interest and where they want to go. She said the innovation design studies opportunity in Switzerland always fills up along with the Spanish language study in Chile. She said England and Japan also tend to be popular destinations, but it changes every year.

“I went over there to study Chinese, and I only studied Chinese,” Stanger said. “Class was from 8 a.m. in the morning to the afternoon. It took adjusting to the pollution and always being lost. I had so much fun.”

Forsyth said students who study abroad learn a lot about themselves.

“You can do things you never thought you could do,” Forsyth said. “It’s amazing how energizing and good people feel with basic accomplishments like getting a train ticket to Switzerland on their own. It’s great for academics. Employers may ask about your experience, and it helps you decide on a real focus for a career.”

Stanger said studying abroad helped him gain a broader perspective.

“It is a good idea to get out of the Utah bubble and the American stereotype and see … world issues and open your mind to things you had no idea were problems,” Stanger said. “You’re obviously going to learn about your classes, but also yourself. You have no friends or family with you. Every day was an adventure. Nothing was the same. I went there not really knowing the language. Don’t let that stop you. Everybody is so nice. (The) first thing you should learn is, ‘Where is the bathroom?’”

Hills said she and her colleague Adrianne Moore try to give students the whole experience on these trips.

“I teach a variety of classes for general education and non-major students,” Hills said. “We take classes in the morning from about 8 a.m. to noon, then we go some places. We end up seeing a lot of the city and landmarks.”

There will be a study abroad fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 29 in the Eccles Science Learning Center foyer, according to Forsyth.

“If you are interested, March 1 is the deadline for summer, and most other deadlines are in February,” Forsyth said. “Start investigating options six months to a year in advance to know when to go and what your schedule will be. Plan on two to three months of preparation when getting ready to go.”


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