The Places You'll Go
Study abroad programs help students learn worldwise
Christina Zardus knew that she would always to return to Italy, a place where she had ventured as a child. It also helped that Italy is known for its arts, something that would benefit Zardus’ minor.
“Before I even came to Central I knew I wanted to go back to Italy,” said the Dearborn senior. “For me it was the perfect place because I knew I wanted to study art. If I were just to travel to Florence, I wouldn’t have had the same experience.”
Luckily for her, Central Michigan University helped Zardus visit the Florence University of the Arts as part of its study abroad programs.
Whether a student wishes to study ecology in Costa Rica or fashion in France, the study abroad program has something for everybody.
Working to send over 500 CMU students abroad throughout the course of an average school year, Amber Schneider, assistant director of Study Abroad, meets with students to help them plan their travels.
“We have about 150 programs in 40 different countries,” Schneider said. “We have both tuition exchange programs as well as other low cost offers.”
During her own time at CMU, Schneider traveled abroad three times, including a trip to Africa to student teach.
Students can choose from abroad programs including faculty-led exchanges, a tuition exchange, an affiliated program exchange or as an intern. The amount of time spent overseas varies by program. Faculty-led programs have the shortest duration of stay out of the choices offered.
Some requirements for studying abroad dictate that students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better, although some programs may have more extensive requirements, such as a knowledge of a foreign language.
“We offer programs all over the world in English so students are not required to have to learn a language,” Schneider said. “For students who are seeking programs in English, they can either look at our view book or our website. There is a wide variety of options, even in non-English speaking countries.”
Students must also have spent a minimum of two semesters of classes on campus prior to all international travels. Students can come in as early as their first year to meet with an adviser to plan an abroad trip.
After staying for six months while attending classes in Florence, Zardus said the hardest part was the culture shock of coming home.
“It was really hard when I came back,” Zardus said. “Even just driving down the road, the cars were huge, the roads were huge. In Florence, everything was so tiny.”
Any fears of leaving the safety of your home country or returning in one piece after studying abroad are normal, said Schneider, but the program offers something for every major and every minor.
“There are so many program options,” she said. “There really is something that can meet the needs of each student.”
More than anything, Schneider insists that there are many benefits to studying abroad, including an increase in self-confidence and something to talk about in job interviews.
Schoolcraft senior Andrea Van Lopik studied abroad for three weeks in Denmark and said she considers it one of the best decisions of her life.
“I wanted to study abroad ever since I came to Central, but I kind of kept putting it off,” she said. “It was probably four days before the deadline of the application and I was kinda just like ‘Mom, I guess I’m going to Denmark!’ So it was just kind of a spur of the moment decision.”
Van Lopik also encouraged students who are worried about studying abroad to try the smaller three-week summer courses.
“You can get a class out of the way while also trying the abroad,” she said.
The Office of Study Abroad is located in Ronan Hall 330, and an appointment can be scheduled online to meet with an advisor.
“Study abroad is a great opportunity to enhance your resume,” Schneider said. “It tells your future employers that you are open to working with different people from different backgrounds. You’re a risk taker. And of course, it’s a lot of fun too.”