Studying abroad, a priceless experience

Courtesy of Cal State Fullerton Study Abroad Program

Courtesy of Cal State Fullerton Study Abroad Program

Contrary to what some students may believe about studying abroad—like the misconception that it is just four months of belligerent partying—there are actually a multitude of academic and cultural benefits.

From internships and jobs to gaining academic experience in a different country, the opportunities are endless.

According to a 2011 Cal State Fullerton annual report on studying abroad, “the total number of students studying abroad was 282 (compared with 148 in 2009-10).”

The dramatic 90.5 percent increase indicates the growing popularity of studying abroad.

However, many students have a lot of misconceptions and questions about studying abroad as far as living, academic and transportation costs. For the most part, these issues can be avoided through seeking financial help.

Cal State Fullerton offers internship opportunities and provides financial aid to help those students looking to study abroad on a budget.

As posted on the BBC Travel site, “the United States attracts the most international students, according to the Institute of International Education, with 691,000 students studying abroad in the U.S.”

In the fall semester of 2012, CSUF was home to 1,318 international students.

Business administration and communications currently stand as the most popular majors to have students studying abroad at CSUF, because they offer a wider field of opportunities.

At CSUF, beggars really can be choosers as you can gain your academic experience all over the world including countries like Australia, Germany, Switzerland, China, and the United Kingdom who all offer different opportunities and benefits.

Mark Salisbury, director of institutional research and assessment at Augustana College in Illinois, said “many times it reshapes the way they think about their own career plan, and they take a more reflective turn on the role that they’re going to play in the world as it relates to their career plans. And oftentimes, you talk to people who studied abroad 50 years ago, and they will tell you that was the most powerful experience that they had.”

As someone who has had a personal experience studying abroad in London, England, I could not agree more with Salisbury on the fact that studying abroad truly reshapes the way you think, learn and see the world and future plans.

Students approaching the opportunity of studying abroad with the mentality of drinking and partying will be welcomed with a rude awakening.

The university’s study abroad program requires that students pass 12 units worth of courses during a semester.

The classes required vary depending on a person’s major, just like any other academic semester, and should be thoroughly looked into.

Who says trying to see an entire country, do your homework and go to class was easy?

Students who take advantage of the internship, which is not required by CSUF but highly recommended, will be required to register and submit a work visa for the country they attend.

The benefits that can come out of an international internship greatly outweigh any other internship experience in the United States.

Not only will students earn points towards their major requirements for this experience but it is a great opportunity to continue networking and create contacts overseas.

Businesses appreciate a person who is cultured and who has had experience outside the comfortable bubble that is Orange County.

Overall, the experience of earning an education overseas should not only be encouraged but required by California state law.

Too many students go into adulthood closed minded and cut off from a more cultured, global society.

No more are the days of a dull life and college routine; take a chance, step outside your comfort zone and into a whole new world of possibility.

About Sarah Gerhard