Italy, Denmark and Ireland among the most popular summer study abroad locations


Detroit senior Xavier-Thomas Mendoza (holding up peace sign) poses with interns at Volunteers for the Visayans in Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines while interning abroad during summer 2018. Courtesy Photo | Xavier-Thomas Mendoza

After spending a portion of her summer break in Limerick, Ireland, Grosse Point Park junior Holly Daywalt said she can't wait to travel again.    

"This was such an amazing experience and it truly meant the world to me that I was lucky enough to have such a wonderful (trip)," Daywalt said. 

When Central Michigan University students return from summer study abroad sessions, the caption "Take me back!" returns to social media platforms. What makes the experience so buzz-worthy? 

For Daywalt, it was the personal development. She returned to the states a more assertive and effective communicator.

"I'm starting a new role as an resident assistant in Beddow (Hall) and the skills I acquired during my travels will translate well into this position," she said. "Studying abroad (helped) me build my confidence in travel and life in general." 

Daywalt was able to experience this growth through planning her trip with the Office of Study Abroad located in Ronan Hall. The office offers faculty-led, tuition exchange and direct enroll study abroad options. Students also have the option to select international internships. 

According to Study Abroad Adviser Marko Schubert, about 545 students studied abroad during Summer 2018.

The study abroad office's website provides information on 43 country options curious students can browse. The site's finance page boasts nearly 70 percent of all students who applied for study abroad scholarships received awards during the 2017-18 academic year.  

As one of the 545 students who traveled outside the country, Muskegon junior Julia Wood said the experience helped her understand another culture. Wood chose to study abroad in Denmark after learning the country values environmentalism and implements a democratically socialist government.

"I finally immersed myself in a different area of the world and became a citizen temporarily," She said. "(I really felt) I belonged and could have gone on living there indefinitely." 

Wood said the experience exceeded her expectations and she would love to study abroad again, but she would struggle to fit another trip in her schedule.

Students looking to study abroad might also run into financial issues when looking at spending time outside the U.S.; a semester abroad can cost as much as $25,000 or as little as $9,000. 

"(Finding an average cost is) really hard because there are so many different factors,” Schubert said. 

A student's chosen country, airfare and lifestyle choices all decide the final cost of the trip. 

This summer, Italy, Denmark and Ireland were the most popular study abroad destinations, Schubert said. They also are a few of the most expensive options. However, students still find a way to travel.

Macomb senior Kynoshia Blake lowered the cost of her summer study abroad by traveling for six weeks, rather than a semester. Her cost of classes, living arrangements, airfare and lifestyle choices amounted to $6,450. 

"The cost can vary depending on one's financial situation and scholarships," she said. "If I wasn't graduating this semester, I would definitely study abroad again." 

Blake said traveling to Italy fulfilled one of three main goals on her bucket list. Paying off student loans before 30 and owning a media production company are still on her list.

"I honestly never thought I'd have the chance to go," she said. "The fact I was able to live and go to school there for six weeks was everything to me."

While most students are looking to travel outside the U.S. to explore unfamiliar places, senior Xavier-Thomas Mendoza took his study abroad opportunity and turned it into a productive homecoming. Born in the Philippines, Mendoza lived in Detroit before becoming a student at CMU.

Mendoza, a photojournalism major, interned at Volunteers for the Visayans in Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines and took photographs of the damage done in 2013 by typhoon Haiyan. 

Mendoza was able to visit family on his days off and said he enjoyed experiencing an unfamiliar part of the Philippines. 

"The experience was very humbling and gave me a bigger sense of how not everyone in the world can be as fortunate as us (in the US)," he said. "I saw children that had to work in trash sites with their parents to make ends meet and people with rationed water." 

Mendoza said he hopes his photographs can bring awareness to the damage done by typhoon Haiyan.

The Study Abroad Office can be contacted at, (989) 774-4308 or at Ronan Hall, room 330.