Written by Melanie Kandor, Marketing Intern
Rainey, a student at Southern Connecticut State University summed up her study abroad experience in this one sentence: “College is a once in a lifetime experience as is, but spending three to four months living in another country is the epitome of a once in a lifetime experience.” Studying in another country truly opens up a whole new world.
Rainey studied in London, England, this past spring. Europe is probably one of the best locations to study, because there are so many different countries so close together. Rainey, for instance, got a chance to see Paris, Brighton, Amsterdam, Wales, and Poland. Many students, like Rainey, feel that although you are away for a long period of time, it goes by very quickly. So make it a point to see as much as you can while you are on your study abroad trip, (but also, get your schoolwork done – after all, it is the reason you’re there!).
Rainey’s photo of Big Ben in London, England.
In front of Eiffel Tower in Paris, France – Rainey (center) and two friends.
We all know that going away to college, even if it’s only a couple of hours away from home, can be a challenge, but going away for three or four months to a foreign country (and way more than just a phone call away from home), can be very exciting, and definitely a huge leap in independence.
One tip from a student who lives for traveling, Gary, a student at Plattsburgh University, is to set up an account with Skype. Skype is a video chatting program that Gary has made good use of throughout his travels since he spends much of his time in countries other than his own. Skype is a great way to keep in touch, and it’s almost like you are speaking face-to-face with your friends. It is a lot more personal than email, and it’s extremely easy to use. Another great video-chatting program is Oovoo, which is also free to use. If your computer does not have a built in webcam, there are many that you can purchase on Amazon.com or at a local Best Buy for a reasonable price.
An avid rock climber, Gary visits an old castle, (see him on the wall?), on a trip to Bellinzona, Switzerland.
Just like American students, there are students from other countries around the world who travel to schools in different places to further their education.
At the University of Hartford, there are around 400 international students each year, and they represent around 60 different countries. To help international students adjust to their new environment, there is an International Center on campus to provide them with “dimensions to both the academic and personal aspects of the university experience.”
Also, the International Center at the University of Hartford “sends over 200 students each year to many of our more than 60 program offerings throughout the world.”
Andy, a University of Hartford student, greeting a “local” on his trip to Australia last year.
If you have the opportunity to speak with or befriend a student from another country, be sure to be respectful. Management Skills for Every Day Life, written by Paula Caproni, provides useful information about communicating across cultures in a business-world, but some of her tips are appropriate for communicating across cultures in university-life. Caproni suggests using commonly known words and short sentences, without being patronizing. Many international students are aware that they have an accent (however to them, you may be the one with the accent), so try not to make them feel uncomfortable about it. You should also be aware of your body language while speaking with someone of a different culture than your own; oftentimes our body language says a lot more than what our words are saying to someone.
One tip I have learned from my own experience with international students is not to assume that they know nothing about the United States. Peter, a senior at the University of Hartford, is a native of Bermuda. Peter has lived in the United States for three and a half school years, yet he has seen more of this country than I have seen in my 21 years here! Another international student I know, a senior named Valerie who is a native of Germany, says that she is taking a few courses at the University of Hartford this semester, and then plans to stay in the United States until the middle of January so that she can see more of this country.
Gary in Utah.
Here are some other general tips for students who wish to study abroad:
-Try to travel in pairs or groups and don’t travel alone at night
-Invest in a camera! There will be so many “photo-ops” on your trip that chances are
you’ll be sorry if you don’t get one.
-Have fun with it!
-Research the weather and some general customs of the country you will be traveling
to before you go
-Learn some common phrases if they speak a different language
Another option that may save you some cash would be to look for a short term study abroad trip; generally these trips are only two or three weeks at the most and thus should be less expensive.
If you can’t afford the studying abroad experience, stick with what you’ve got – go sight-seeing in your own town or in your own state. There is so much to see in this country alone! Plan a spring break road trip with your friends and see the sights of the United States.
Wherever you study, make the most of it; whether it’s Australia, Germany, California, Connecticut, or Oklahoma, there are plenty of amazing things to see. Your college years are quite possibly the best years to spend traveling and seeing the great BIG world around you.
Whatever you decide to do, or wherever you choose to go, enjoy it!
Great resources for study-abroad information: