Studying abroad best decision

By on December 6, 2006

When I decided to write an editorial about studying abroad, it was hard not to simply gush about the amazing things that I did while traveling in and around Spain. I could write about watching the sunrise in the Sahara desert, seeing the Eiffel tower lit up at night, or sailing off the coast of Portugal. I’ll spare you the “my summer vacation-like” essay, and get to the point.

Studying abroad was the best decision I’ve ever made. If you’ve considered it, I strongly encourage that you follow through. Although Quinnipiac offers a program in Ireland, which I’m sure is excellent; I want students to realize that there are an infinite number of other options available. I wish that this university made a greater effort to inform students of these opportunities and push them toward international study.

As a university with a liberal arts curriculum, Quinnipiac should dedicate greater resources and effort to the study abroad office and its promotion. Quinnipiac’s Web site promises that with a liberal arts curriculum “students graduate with a balanced view of the world and a well-rounded education.” I’m not convinced that this is entirely possible without the experience of international education.

With a small-town campus, relatively homogenous student body and an apparent political apathy, Quinnipiac doesn’t offer a balanced world view. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a safe and nurturing environment in which to learn and grow. But the university doesn’t fully represent the diverse ideas, cultures and experiences that are out there. By breaking out of the “bubble” that is Quinnipiac, students will widen their world-view and become independent in a way they never imagined possible.

Internships are mandatory for many majors at Quinnipiac. They are valuable because they teach important life skills and boost resumes. What I want students to realize is that studying abroad does this as well, along with so much more. Meeting others from around the world is a valuable networking opportunity. Perfecting a foreign language is essential for our nearly bi-lingual society and increasing globalization.

Making international education mandatory is simply unrealistic; I realize that. But after living and studying in another culture for a semester, I wish every student could have the experience of a lifetime that I did.

I’ve never claimed to be extremely brave nor fiercely independent. I would never have dreamt of going to the bathroom without an entourage of friends. But staying within your comfort zone means never giving yourself the opportunity to grow or change. If studying abroad scares you, go with a friend. Although to truly get the most out of your experience I would recommend going alone, whatever gives you the courage is fine.

Don’t let financial reasons hold you back either. Spending a semester abroad costs roughly the same amount as a semester at Quinnipiac. Financial aid applies to international education as well. Many students feel limited by their lack of foreign language skills. I advise you to go wherever you want, despite the language barrier. Many students that I studied with in Seville, Spain knew little Spanish at the start of the semester. It’s common knowledge that being thrown into another culture is the fastest way to pick up a foreign language.

I want to encourage every student to think about studying abroad. Get the most out of the four years you spend in college without any regrets. Challenge yourself to learn and grow as an individual. Take a chance on studying abroad; it just could be the most valuable chance you’ll ever take.


About Kate Fernandes