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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Studying Abroad: The ultimate college experience

    Yusra Tekbaliassistant news editor
    Yusra Tekbali
    assistant news editor

    College is a time to educate oneself by being open-minded. Many of our professors use creative methods of instruction such as hands-on experience or stimulating debates. In the same vein, many UA students travel abroad to enhance their college experiences via the knowledge that results from being immersed in a new environment.

    Jeanie Bergen, a senior majoring in theatre arts and journalism who spent last semester in Orvieto, Italy, at the Orvieto International Institute, credits an Italian art history class for sparking her interest in European society.

    “”I suddenly had an interest in seeing the world for what it is, instead of just hearing or reading about it,”” she said.

    After returning from Italy, Bergen joined the newly formed Study Abroad Ambassadors, an organization made up of UA students who have studied abroad and want to share their experiences.

    Lauren Quigley, a junior majoring in retail and consumer science, said studying in London helped her face her fears and learn more about herself.

    “”I experienced firsthand how I couldn’t just run home to mommy anymore,”” said Quigley. “”London gave me a chance to thrive in its amazing fashion, art and culture.””

    Wayne Decker, director of international studies and external affairs at the Honors College, said students seeking an interdisciplinary studies degree travel outside the U.S. to countries like Russia and China as part of the major’s graduation requirement. Decker said the most significant thing students come away with is the experience of spending time in another country.

    Imagine learning about the origins of Slavic folklore while immersed in the culture of Eastern Europe or analyzing DaVinci’s paintings at the Louvre.

    “”Being out in a Third World country gives students the real-life skills that set a lifelong pattern and double as a great career asset,”” said Decker.

    Students from the interdisciplinary studies program are rarely sent to English-speaking countries, since learning a language is an integral part of the program, and there is essentially no time limit on a student’s stay. This works out well for students who are financially limited and don’t want to spend an entire year abroad.

    With the increasingly competitive global market, many companies seek out graduates who have a second language skill. According to the U.S. Department of Education, nearly 120,000 MBAs are awarded every year, making a master’s degree less distinguishing on a resume. Applicants who can add language fluency or foreign competence to their list of skills are sure to have a leg up in almost any professional venue.

    Political science junior Ishra Solieman and economics sophomore Khaqan Sikander both credit their summers abroad for winning them first-rate internships – Solieman with the Arizona Supreme Court and Sikander with the United Nations.

    “”I know if I hadn’t traveled outside the U.S., there is no way I would have landed this internship – it’s awesome,”” said Sikander.

    Lindsay Rossman, an adviser in the Office of Study Abroad and Student Exchange, said many students fund their trips through a combination of scholarships and student loans. The office offers a variety of scholarships; however, many of them do not even cover half of the cost of a trip abroad, which can range from $2,100 to $9,000.

    While money is a problem for some, the benefits of studying abroad are well worth the financial sacrifice. Even though individuals and societies and traditions and cultures classes can be interesting, nothing beats the real thing. Imagine learning about the origins of Slavic folklore while immersed in the culture of Eastern Europe or analyzing Da Vinci’s paintings at the Louvre. And imagine how much easier it is to learn French or Arabic when everyone around you speaks it.

    If more students show interest in enhancing their academic experiences by studying abroad, perhaps different departments and organizations would be willing to make academic adventure easier in the future, which would allow the UA to add cultured alumni to its list of accomplishments.

    Yusra Tekbali is a journalism and Near Eastern Studies junior. She can be reached at

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