Students discover rewarding experiences through studying abroad

Besides giving students an upper-hand in landing job opportunities after graduation, students say studying abroad can be a great way to experience different societal norms and cultures.

The Office of Study Abroad attracted more than 100 students who were interested in learning more about studying internationally at the Study Abroad Fair, which was held in the Bovee University Center on Wednesday.

Central Michigan University offers more than 150 different study sites in more than 40 different countries. From Africa to the Middle East, many students are taking advantage of these programs in hopes of a fulfilling experience.

"Your view is a really important part," Study Abroad Director Dianne De Salvo said. "If you come in and you say that you want to study abroad and you want to pay exactly what you pay for tuition, room and board, we can get you to study abroad. But if money is no object, there are some programs that students choose that are $2,000 to 3,000 more than the average."

The most popular destinations are Italy, Belize, England, Ireland and Mexico.

Despite where students choose to go, De Salvo said the experience has never been more crucial for students.

"We're in the new millennium; it's a small world and we're all interconnected," she said. "The truth is, you might be working at a job that is international where you never leave the United States. Your colleagues might be in Japan or Europe. Even the people sitting beside you might be from a different culture."

According to De Salvo, 570 CMU students took the initiative to study abroad last academic year, representing a 6.7-percent increase from 2011-12.

Burton senior Kyle Kenny is one of the CMU students who recently studied abroad.

Kenny chose to complete a one-semester study abroad program in Vienna, Austria, where he took five classes ranging from psychology to European culture and history.

"It's a beautiful city. It has so much culture and so much history, not to mention everybody is nice," Kenny said. "Everyone stereotypes German-speaking countries and think it's a harsh place, but I thought it was very friendly. I view it as a smaller, cleaner version of New York City."

Kenny said his experience abroad was time well-spent and encourages everyone at CMU to get a taste of the study abroad experience.

"I actually think that it should be required for students to study abroad," Kenny said. "You're stuck in one culture for so long that you forget that there are other cultures out there."

Grand Rapids senior Brittany DeBoer stayed at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

"I would do it again in a heartbeat if I could," DeBoer said. "Just go. Don't question it."

Although DeBoer had a great experience for the most part, she does have some advice for those making the international trip in the future.

"Don't get homesick, talk your way out of it," she said. "I wasted a lot of time being homesick, and I regret it a lot because home is going to be the same when you get back. I would miss classes, I would miss hearing people speak English in the street, but it makes you appreciate home a little bit more."

Like Kenny, DeBoer also found the general atmosphere in her study abroad country to be very laid back and considerate.

"Americans have a live-to-work attitude, and (the Dutch) work to live. They take more vacations, longer lunch breaks," DeBoer said. "I loved how liberal they were. Just the mindset of the people; they stay out of each other's business"


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