Study abroad benefits résumé, livelihood
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2012 03:04
It’s something that students often promise themselves – this summer or when I graduate, or when I save enough money, I’ll go travel somewhere, anywhere, to experience a new culture, cuisine or nightlife.
This promise doesn’t have to be an empty one. Incorporating studying abroad into your college experience is an excellent way to meet and exceed those desires.
One year ago, I had the privilege of being an exchange student at Utrecht College University, an honors college in Utrecht, The Netherlands. I not only had the opportunity to immerse myself into Dutch culture, but I traveled to other countries and formed long-term friendships I plan to maintain for years to come.
It’s hard to dispute the benefits of studying abroad. With an ever-growing demand for diverse and bilingual employees, studying abroad will look great on any students résumé. Allan E. Goodman, president and CEO of the Institute of International Education, said in a release, “Studying abroad enables American students to obtain first-hand experience in other countries and cultures, to prepare them as 21st century professionals and leaders in all fields.”
In the same release, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock said, “For American students to be competitive in today’s globalized world, international experience is critically important.”
She recommended students look into the Fulbright Program, as well as the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, the latter of which being what afforded me my abroad experience.
Last November, in an article in The Christian Science Monitor, Peggy Blumenthal, senior counselor to the president of the IIE, said the places that students are choosing to study in are changing, as are their reasons for going. “Americans are not going abroad for the degrees, they’re going abroad to enhance their degrees – to see how engineering or physics is taught in a different place and to learn from that experience,” Blumenthal told the Monitor.
I know what you’re thinking: “I can’t afford this.” At first, I thought the same, but with research, I was able to make it work.
Participating in an exchange program, I was able to choose my own room and board and eat for a price similar to cost of living here at UCF. More importantly, I chose my own classes as if I were a full-time student at Utrecht College and was not restricted by what classes the program offers, but the selection of classes offered by the university. However, other students may find a set study-abroad program more affordable and beneficial.
Additionally, your study-abroad or exchange program does not have to be through UCF. Many universities nationwide are willing to accept students not enrolled in their university to partake in a study abroad program. I went through the University of Florida since UCF had no semester-long psychology programs abroad. I was able to count more credits toward my major, while still paying in-state tuition, and receive Florida-based credits.
Various scholarships are available for studying abroad depending on the individual and the program. The scholarship I received awards up to $5,000 per student and an extra $3,000 for critical language locations, such as Russia. This scholarship is specifically for students who are United States citizens, receive the Pell Grant and need financial assistance to travel abroad. The scholarship is offered every semester and requires a statement of purpose and a follow-up project to be completed upon return from the program. Furthermore, students who are first-generation, non-traditional degree seeking and/or are minority are at great chance for selection.
For those who still cannot see themselves finding the time or money to partake in a study abroad program, I encourage you to research about similar allowances.