By Hannah Garner
Study abroad programs allow students to experience the world as their classroom and open doors to personal growth. Rather than reading books, exploring a new country will open a new culture, history, language and heritage.
Whether a person would want to feel like they are on an extended vacation or learn more about their ancestors, there is a study abroad program for everyone.
For anyone interested in studying abroad but is fearful for one reason or another, there are many benefits to studying abroad.
“Students who study abroad gain invaluable insight into the world around them. They gain important skills that are necessary in the 21st century global economy,” Ann Gardner, assistant director of Study Abroad Programs at Youngstown State University, said.
Gardner explained employers will find these skills attractive and having this experience will give students an edge in many fields.
The factors that seem to deter many students from studying abroad are the cost and distance, but there’s no need to fear.
YSU has six different exchange programs where students can switch places with another student from a partner university. Students will pay the same tuition they would pay at YSU, but will have to pay for their own living expenses. However, some of the partners offer perks like free housing and stipends.
For students who wish to study abroad in a country that is not host to a partner university, students can use federal financial aid and scholarships to cover study abroad expenses.
Jenna Wylie, a junior political science major, who is currently studying abroad in Paris, France, said she chose to study abroad in France because she has always wanted to see Paris. Wylie also noted being a French minor was a reason for choosing France.
Wylie said she was extremely nervous to study abroad, but now feels she has come out of her shell and become comfortable, not just in France but anywhere. She said she even took a solo trip to Amsterdam, which is something she has always wanted to do, but was afraid.
“Studying abroad has given me tremendous confidence, and I’ve learned a new independence within myself, as well as branching out and making new friends, some of which don’t even speak English,” she said.
The most beneficial part of studying abroad is being able to experience a new city like the locals do, according to Wylie.
“You get to see all the tourist areas like everyone else, but you also get to find some lesser known gems. Some of the best views, cafes and things to do are tucked away out of the busier areas,” she said.
When most people think back on their time studying abroad, a million memories flood their head, but the first thing that comes to mind is the friendships they made. It’s something they will always have no matter where they go.
“Meeting new people, making friends and experiencing their culture was my favorite part,” Michael Leckfor, a junior economics major, said.
Leckfor advises all students to study abroad if they are given the opportunity.
“It really changes your view of the world. You’re a much more well-rounded person,” he said. “I don’t regret it one bit, I’m glad I took the opportunity and there are times when I miss it.”
Studying abroad may seem scary and intimidating, but it’s an experience like no other. The world is at your fingertips and waiting to be explored.
“This is the best time of your life to try new things and explore the world around you. I always encourage students to study abroad for a full semester, but if they are hesitant, I recommend joining a faculty-led study abroad program in their college,” Gardner said.
Students who wish to learn more about study abroad programs are encouraged to register for an informational meeting held every Friday at noon in Jones Hall room 1013.