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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Need degree, will travel”

    Editor’s note: This is the first part of a two-part series on the study abroad experience for UA students. Part two will run in tomorrow’s Wildcat.

    Before this summer, Ema Adriana Garcia had never spent more than five days away from home. The idea of spending a month and a half out of the country was nerve-wracking.

    After a 14-hour plane ride, Garcia, a junior majoring in accounting and Spanish translation and interpretation, arrived in Segovia, Spain, where she would be studying for the next six weeks.

    She was nervous about a lot of things: her host family, her roommates, her classes. Even though she speaks Spanish fluently, she stressed about the Spanish dialect and her classes.

    On the other hand, Danielle DeSorda, an international studies junior, is calm about preparing to spend the next semester in Montpellier, France. DeSorda studied in Belgium during her senior year of high school.

    “”I’m really not nervous,”” DeSorda said. “”I’m really excited because my last experience was so great that I’m excited for this one.””

    Garcia and DeSorda are a part of a growing number of students in the United States choosing to study abroad. During the 2005-2006 school year, 205,983 American students studied abroad, more than an 8 percent increase over the year before, according to the Open Doors report published by the Institute of International Education.

    At the UA, the number of students studying abroad is meeting the growing national average, said David Wright, director of Study Abroad and Student Exchange. This past year, the UA sent 1,800 students abroad. Next year, Wright said, he would not be surprised if the student total hit 1,900.

    “”Nationwide, study abroad is more popular than ever,”” said Laura Thornes, a study abroad adviser at the UA. “”There’s more programs, more options for them.””

    What’s the difference between a study abroad and a student exchange?

    For a study abroad, students pay tuition at the foreign university. An exchange is an agreement between the host university and the foreign university to literally exchange students. Exchange students pay tuition at their home institutions.

    “”For some reason the U of A is an extremely popular place to go,”” Wright said. “”So it’s often the case that our partner institutions will have more students to send to us than we have to send to them.””

    How much does it cost?

    Programs can run from around $4,000 to upwards of $30,000. Costs depend on whether the program is a study abroad or a student exchange, exchange rates, the intended university of study and whether it is a summer-, semester- or yearlong program.

    Summer programs tend to be cheaper than semester or academic year programs.

    Why do students study abroad?

    Some students study abroad for the cultural experience, to gain language skills, to improve their resumes, to experience a new part of the world or to see where their ancestors came from.

    “”It’s so complex,”” Wright said. “”People go abroad for a lot of different reasons.””

    Both Garcia and DeSorda value their experiences abroad. DeSorda looked back on her time in Belgium fondly and looks forward to her time in France.

    “”Overall, I learned that many times we enclose ourselves in one world,”” Garcia wrote in an e-mail. “”It was amazing to experience something outside of what I used to call my world. Now I have a new component of my world, which was studying abroad in Spain.””


    The top destinations for US college students studying abroad in 2006.

    1) United Kingdom
    2) Italy
    3) Spain
    4) France
    5) Australia
    6) Mexico
    7) Germany
    8) China
    9) Ireland
    10) Costa Rica

    -Source: 2006 Open Doors report

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