Study abroad: Is it worth it?

“Come study in Scotland, Ireland, Italy or France!” posters are in every building here at Radford University. Each one shows a group of students happy and enjoying their leisurely time there. It looks like all fun and games when in reality not all of the programs are based like that. The purpose of a study abroad is to take classes transferable to RU while you aren’t actually there. The possibilities are endless when choosing where to go through the study abroad programs.

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Do it for the sights.
Photo from Creative Commons.

For example, RU has many faculty-lead summer sessions that include France, Malawi, and the Italy/Ireland trip. However, if none of those trips seem to entice you, there’s always the option of finding your own program and RU will work with you to make sure that those credits transfer back into your transcript.

One of the big factors that deter people from studying abroad is the cost. They often think it’s too expensive for them to do it. However, a semester abroad can be the same cost as a semester at RU. A summer abroad session can be more expensive because the time you study there is not during the standard months in which you go to school. To help with expenses, financial aid often helps and gives you more money then you normally receive if studying over the summer. If you choose a semester or year abroad, your financial aid you received from the school year is applicable to the international programs.

So many choices with study abroad all over the world. Image from Creative Commons.

There are also many scholarships that are specifically for students who choose to study abroad. These scholarships are often less competitive than standard scholarships because there’s a smaller pool of students who choose to study abroad. From personal experience, many of the RU sponsored trips are all-inclusive, making the trip cheap once you get into your destination.

As a student at RU who has studied abroad, I think it is an amazing experience that everybody should do. I loved it so much that I spoke about it all the time and I think my friends were beginning to hate me for talking about it 24/7. I chose to go on the summer study abroad program in France sponsored by Dr. du Plessis. While I was there, I went to class Monday through Friday and the classes varied in length everyday based off of which French class you were placed in. However, some of the classes lasted from 9-5, but there were only a few days in which you had go to class for that long.

After class, there was minimal homework and in our free time on school days, we went shopping, to the lake, and to the socials that were sponsored by the school. It was nice being able to see so many people from around the world. Although the majority of the students were Americans, there were Canadians, Australians, Japanese, Spaniards, Swedes, Russians, and many other nationalities. Meeting people from around the world was such an interesting experience and by the time I left, I had so many people inviting me to hang out with them in their home country.

Besides going to class and learning French, I learned many other things in that short month. For example, I learned a lot about myself because I was in a foreign country and none of my family members were there. If I had a problem, I had to solve it on my own because the closest member of my family was across the ocean. I learned much about the French culture and their social norms since I was literally thrown into a foreign country with a limited vocabulary to get me by in most situations.

But most importantly, the best part about the trip was all the memories it created for me. I met some awesome people and I saw some amazing places. I was in Paris for a few days and saw many landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Arch de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees, Notre Dame, and the Musée D’Orsay. When in Angers, the city I was studying in, I got to see over 15 castles and one was even right outside of my window when I woke up every day. I also saw Omaha Beach and many memorials that were constructed to honor those who fought in the battles of Normandy in World War II. If I chose to, there were many more excursions through the university I was studying at that I could have chosen to go on but from the two I chose, I am happy that those were the ones I went to.

For other study abroad trips I’m aware of, the classes meet before they leave the country so by the time they travel they have to just enjoy the experience when they are there. When they come back, they have a project that they have to complete by the end of the fall semester.

Overall, I am a huge fan of study abroad programs. They let you become more worldly and wise. The experiences are priceless and being in college is the best time to travel because you still have time to and you have minimal financial obligations, in comparison to older people. Seize the day and find out more about studying abroad with Radford University.