Champagne Hangover

Lets study abroad!

By Victoria  Karolenko

                Studying abroad, it appears to be growing in popularity every year.  Only 1% of college students actually study abroad.  Why might students choose not to study abroad?  Your major may be offered abroad but graduation on time will require extensive planning before going abroad.  If you want to graduate on time and study abroad, you should talk to your advisor and start planning at the beginning of your freshman year.  It is near impossible to graduate on time if you are a transfer student.  That being the only negative there are far more reasons to study abroad.

Studying Abroad Concern: Price

            A student’s first concern is most likely price.  Many students go to in-state schools to save money.  With Towson’s study abroad program you can study abroad for the same price as tuition, with a bit extra set aside for trips and shopping.  If you are a student on financial aid then you may use your aid towards studying abroad.  There are also scholarships particular to studying abroad.  You can find and apply to these scholarships on studyabroad.com. Some scholarships offered are AIFS Minority Scholarships, American Association of University Women and Hispanic Study Abroad Scholars (HSAS).

Study Abroad Concern: Safety

            Safety may be another concern to students.  At Towson there is an emergency and crisis plan enacted for precautions.  Students also have the numbers and accessibility to a liaison within their country.  Towson University Study Abroad Office takes to utmost concern to ensure the safety of students while abroad.  Kathleen Kilmain, the program assistant at the TU Study Abroad Office, assured me that the “same precautions are taken overseas as at home.”

Study Abroad Concern: Language

            Another deterrent for students is that they want to study abroad in a country where English is not spoken.  The reality is that students do not need to know the native language.  There are translators, classes to learn the language and classes taught in English.  Learning the native language abroad is helpful and fun.  Ordinary things like grocery shopping and meeting neighbors become adventures.  Being overseas takes the mundane out of everyday tasks.

Study Abroad Concern: Living

            Living options vary on the country or city you choose to study in.  The options range from living in a dorm with all American students, living with a host family or renting an apartment with a couple other students.  Kathleen studied in Prague for her undergraduate; she lived in an apartment with three other girls.  To her, the best part of living in an apartment verses a dorm is that she was able to connect to her neighbors.  An opportunity that would not have been available to her if she surrounded herself in an American dorm.

Study Abroad Concern: Time

            Towson University boasts an extensive college athletics program, which includes 20 NCAA Division 1 varsity teams.  With such an established program, Towson attracts many student athletes.  Would Towson’s study abroad program turn them away?  Quite the opposite, many athletes from football to field hockey and lacrosse have studied abroad.  Since the Towson program offers programs abroad for extended lengths of time, like an entire year, or short periods of time, like a minimester in the winter or summer, it is easy for student athletes to pick a program that will fit into their training and competitive schedule.

            Maybe you’re not an athlete and time is not an issue.  Then Kathleen, from the TU Study Abroad program, suggests studying abroad for as long as possible.  Many students who studied abroad always wish they had stayed longer.   And for the students who have chosen to study abroad, gone overseas and decided it is not for them?  It is easy to come back to the states.  The TU Study Abroad Office does ask students who want to come home to notify them as soon as possible, as to remedy the issue.  The worst action for a student to take that does not enjoy his or her time overseas, is to buy a plane ticket home and leave without notifying anyone in the program.  This leads to unwarranted alarm.  If a student has tried studying abroad it is not for them, its ok it is not for everyone.  Nonetheless, if students are tepid about studying abroad they are strongly encouraged venture abroad and return home after they have experienced some time independent from family and friends.

Study Abroad Concern: Making Mom Happy

            Leaving family members behind, it may not be an issue for students but it can be alarming for parents.  Some parents become apprehensive at the thought of their student leaving for school out of state, nevertheless out of the country.  As discussed earlier, it is about as safe for students overseas as it is for them at home.  The TU Study Abroad Office takes precautions to ensure the safety of the students and holds orientations for parents.  These orientations are constructed to relieve any animosity that parents may be fostering.  The Families orientation incorporates an overview of the TU Study Abroad Program, the forms and pre-departure tasks of their student, registration, payment information and financial aid, course and credit transfer questions, safety concerns and the cultural adjustment cycle.  This orientation is enlightening for most families and is concluded with a question and answer session.  This allows for fearful mother to make sure all her concerns are voiced.

Now the student and family are on board for the TU Study Abroad Program.  There are just a few matters that must be remembered.  The student must have a GPA minimum of 2.5 and 30 Towson University credits.  The Study Abroad Office recommends students to wait until their second semester of their sophomore year before studying abroad but it is not definitive as long as the student has a minimum of 30 TU credits.  What is the best way to begin this adventure? Attend an information session and meet with an advisor.  Information sessions are held Monday through Friday at 2 pm in the TU Study Abroad Office.  There is also an immensely helpful Study Abroad Fair on September 8, 2011.

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