By Wendy Williamson
10 Things Students Should Know About Study Abroad
1. You can customize your own study abroad program/experience. One EIU student, Andrew Masters, was recently featured in the International Educator magazine for his self-designed international internship in Thailand.
2. You can do your student teaching abroad tuition-free. Tuition and fees are waived every year for approximately 10 EIU students. For more information, check out the Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching.
3. You may have already figured this out by reading the points above, but you can do more than “study” abroad. You can complete internships abroad, student teaching, and service-learning, too, for academic credit.
4. The Office of Study Abroad awards approximately $100,000 in scholarships every year. This fall, 11 students will receive awards between $1,500 and $1,800 to study abroad. Visit the Financial Aid & Scholarships link on our website.
5. If you choose an EXCHANGE program, and you apply for and are awarded a Tuition Waiver Scholarship from the Office of Study Abroad, you can study abroad tuition-free. In many cases, this makes studying abroad less expensive than studying at EIU.
6. You can study abroad tuition-free (if you are awarded a Tuition-Waiver Scholarship) and also receive free housing at Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, or Ajou University in South Korea.
7. Harlaxton College, housed in an 18th century English manor, offers every EIU student a $5,000 scholarship, bringing the cost down considerably. They offer additional discounts for students who choose to study abroad in the Fall semester.
8. Students receive valuable credit for their study abroad courses (major, minor, and general education credit) and typically don’t lose time towards graduation.
9. You can spend a semester on the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, with giant tortoises, all kinds of marine animals and unique birds. It's no wonder Charles Darwin developed the theory of evolution here.
10. The Harvard Business Review suggests that people who identify with more than one nationality or have an international experience are better problem solvers and display more creativity according to research, which make them better managers.
by Natalie Gaughan
"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page" -- St. Augustine.
The chance to study abroad is more than just a great time; it is a life changing experience that we will never forget. It is a time to learn about new cultures, new ways of living, and new perspectives on life. It will be a time to try something new that you may have never tried before. It is a time to grow as an individual and to make a group of friends that you will never forget. There are many reasons why I decided to study abroad and why I chose Harlaxton College in England.
I decided to study abroad because I knew it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I love adventure, and I knew that studying abroad would be an amazing chance to have a lot of adventure. Although I have not studied abroad yet, I know that it will bring good lessons to me. I will not only learn new outlooks from the professors who will be teaching at Harlaxton, but I will also learn new things from the friends that I will make while abroad. This is one of the reasons I chose Harlaxton. We will all be living in Harlaxton Manor together. That is right--all professors and students live together. It will be great for all of us because we will become a family. We will learn new things from each other because of our backgrounds. Also, all of the traveling that we will do together will cause us to bond even more.
Another reason that Harlaxton was my first choice of where I would study abroad is the location. I have been to England before and I fell in love with it right away. I only was there for about a week and that was not enough for me. I am excited to learn more about British history and have hands-on experiences as well. The greatest part is that it is close to other amazing sights in England and there are chances to travel. We will all grow closer together as we travel Europe and see parts of the world we thought we would never see.
Another reason I decided to study abroad is to grow as an individual. In college it is our time to branch out and really make our own decisions in our lives. We will adapt to the new culture and try new things. It will be memorable for me because I will manage my own time for school work and also make time to travel. I will expand my horizons and make new friends that will touch my life and also face challenges of being away from home. I am not nervous about being far away and I am very willing to experience even more independence.
This is a chance of a lifetime for students, and we should take every experience by the hand and run with it. It will be a chance to make new friends, make new adventures and make memories that we will never forget. I am looking forward to my travels and new outlook on the world.
by Michelle Raddatz
I am traveling to Andros Island in the Bahamas at the end of May 2011. I have been interested in studying abroad since my freshman year of college. Now that I am a senior, I have decided that it is now or never for me, so I will be participating in the Science and Schooling program. While I am in the Bahamas, I will be learning about science in a hands on way through nature. Also, I will have the opportunity to be in a Bahamian classroom.
I am most excited about being in a classroom with the children who live in the Bahamas. I am very curious to know what their classroom life is like and how it compares to ours in the United States. Also, this will give me the opportunity to work with a diverse group of students. When I was younger, we took a lot of cruises, and when we stopped on the islands, I would make my parents take me to see the schools on that island. I really enjoyed seeing the difference in how the classrooms were structured. Many times, I left feeling very fortunate for what we have here in the States because they have so little.
Besides getting to experience the people of the island, I think that it will be interesting to spend time with other EIU students who are interested in becoming teachers. We all have so many ideas that we will be able to share with each other. Furthermore, I feel like living in conditions where we are not preoccupied with technology or material items will help us become a close-knit group and give us a much needed break from our everyday lives.
I cannot wait to wake up in the morning and walk out onto the beach. I have absolutely no complaints about doing homework on the beach and snorkeling to learn about science!
Michelle Raddatz has her notebooks and flip flops ready for a week in the Bahamas.
How Do I Pay for Study Abroad? Through Scholarships, of Course!
By Kristen Schaibly
When I began to approach the idea of studying abroad, the first obstacle I crashed into was “But isn’t it expensive?!” My parents, grandparents, friends, acquaintances, and everyone who heard I was going abroad apparently wanted to make sure that I knew it would be really really expensive; what with the airfare, spending money, passport, tuition and living expenses on top of everything else there was no way I could go abroad and be able to afford it, right?
Fortunately, they were wrong. In a struggling economy saturated with student loans and credit card debt, how can a student get abroad? None of us want to increase those loans we have already taken out, so how can study abroad actually become cheaper (yes, I said cheaper) than attending EIU or any other public university?
First of all, the location you want to study in will naturally play a large part in the overall expense of your experience, as will the type of program you participate in. Exchange programs will be cheaper than one-way programs, and short faculty-led programs will likely be less expensive than a semester abroad with a third-party provider. These cost variations depend on the length, type of provider, and location of the program. What I'd like to focus on, however, is how to get scholarships for your study abroad experience.
I am currently planning my study abroad experience at the Malaca Instituto in Spain in the fall of 2011, and I have been able to completely fund it through scholarships--no private loans, no government grants, solely scholarships. Granted, this may not be possible depending on your current academic status, but there are still many avenues you can take in order to access the plethora of scholarship opportunities out there for study abroad students!
The first step a student should take before applying for scholarships is to build a solid resume. What do I mean by a “solid resume"? I'm not talking about past job experience that will prepare you for your future career; scholarship committees want to see applicants who have dedicated time to helping improve their campus and community through extra-curriculars. Also, successful applicants have generally improved themselves academically, which is reflected by a strong GPA. There are hundreds of organizations on campus that will fulfill the campus and community involvement goal, so get involved in a club that focuses on your major or interests. For example, you may want to consider joining the Study Abroad Society. Many organizations only meet once a week, so the time commitment is relatively small when you consider the gains you will receive from your involvement. Also, take it a step further and run for a position in the club’s executive board--even if it is a relatively small position at first, like the treasurer. Every small step is still a move in the right direction.
When applying for scholarships, almost every one wants to know what you have been up to, so it helps when you have organizations to represent your achievements and goals as a student. When searching for scholarships, you may be surprised at the vast amount available. Make sure to visit the Office of Study Abroad to see what scholarships they offer. If you are involved in a social or academic fraternity, look into scholarships offered at the national or regional level. If you have any extra certifications like teacher certification, there are likely even more scholarships available. Beyond these, make sure to look on your university’s website at a scholarship finder, which should show you all the scholarships available through the university as a whole.
Finally, as a study abroad student you have possibilities for scholarships outside of the university. If you are participating in a third-party provider’s program there are likely scholarships available through them. The key is to be prepared, start looking for scholarships early, and make sure you have solid references (professors or employers) you can ask for letters of recommendation. Finally, when the scholarship calls for an essay of any kind, make sure to proofread it carefully and be very clear about each point the essay prompt asks for. Overall, applying for scholarships can be a daunting process, but with some determination and a solid resume you can go abroad for a lower cost than staying at your home university!
Kristen Schaibly enjoys a granizado (flavored shaved ice with condensed mlik) in Costa Rica. Kristen studied in Costa Rica in Fall 2008, and a significant portion of her study abroad costs were covered by the Department of Foreign Languages, the Honors College, and other private scholarships.
People You Might Meet Abroad
EIU education major Amy Norberg had the opportunity to study in Beijing and Shanghai as part of EIU's Discovery China program. Farhan Aziz had a chance to sit down with Amy to discuss her experience.
Farhan Aziz: How did you decide to go on the Discovery China study abroad program? What motivated you?
Amy Norberg: I’ve always wanted to go to Asia, and after I took the Chinese Language course, I really wanted to go to China and use what I had learned. A friend of mine who was a Marketing major told me about the Discovery China program and how they needed another person for the trip.
FA: Was there anything you were nervous about before you left?
AN: I was far more excited than anything. I had studied abroad before I started college, but I didn’t face the same barriers, like the language, that I knew I would in China. My parents and coworkers were more nervous than I was for my trip and I had to assure them everything would be fine. However, I was anxious about going to a country where there was little English spoken outside the universities.
FA: Were the classes different than your classes here at EIU? What was similar-different from your typical day at EIU?
AN: The classes were the same for the most part. We only had a few classes, about one to two every other day or so. We really didn’t much in the way of homework, but the classes were still fun and interesting to go to. We did have business tours with Chinese students from other classes and those were fairly interesting.
FA: Do you have any advice for somebody studying abroad?
AN: You should really look onto the country you’re going to. Learn what may or may not insult people, or any major cultural differences. For instance, my brother told me the in China they didn’t have toilets like we do here. I was curious to know what he was talking about so I googled it. When I got to China I was really happy to find out my brother was partially wrong, but I was glad to know what I would be dealing with just in case.
FA: Tell us something unique about the Chinese culture and how it impacted your experience
AN: Something I found unique about the Chinese people is that if you went up to them and didn’t speak Chinese, they were still quite friendly. I haven’t been to many other countries, so I don’t quite know how unique it really is, but I found it quite comforting when I spoke to people that they were understanding and friendly. I still did run into people who were mean if I couldn’t say what I wanted in Chinese, but it was rare.
Winchester alum heads Study Abroad Society
By Doug T. Graham
As varied as the locations one can travel to on study abroad are, the preparations for one’s departure are almost the same for those bound for Western Europe as those set on studying in South Africa. Among the universal forms and procedures there are inevitably torrents of questions that all eager soon-to-be world travelers will mull over.
This time last year Fraya Andich, who is now the president of the Study Abroad Society, was mere months away from her study abroad experience at the University of Winchester in England and asking questions to whomever she could think of.
“What kind of shoes do I pack when I go to England?” Andich remembers asking. “I can’t bring that much stuff so I want to bring the right stuff. What’s the town like?”
Andich said she was able to have most of these questions answered by Office of Study Abroad staff and friends or family who had traveled before but did not have a community to turn to for guidance.
Ever since her return in the U.S. in December, she has been talking about her study abroad experience, which included weekend trips to Dublin, Paris and Rome. She said this made the decision on whether or not she wanted to be president of the Study Abroad Society easy.
“I really like talking about study abroad, so why not keep doing it?” Andich said.
There is more to the Study Abroad Society than providing guidance and answering questions for nervous first-timers, but Andich said that is the part she personally looks forward to the most. She said each semester the Study Abroad Society hopes to host a send-off party to get future study abroad students in the same place as the veteran travelers that make up the executive board, as well as any members who wish to attend.
Andich said while it is important to allow new students to have their questions answered, it is almost as important to provide a venue where students may make valuable connections to help get them through the journey ahead. Andich knows the importance a familiar face can have in a new place.
Andich said some of her American peers at the University of Winchester stayed with someone they knew through several degrees of separation. Her classmates in question spent a week living with a friend of her older brother.
Andich also knows what it is like to regret not making an overseas connection.
“My roommate, who I didn’t really know until this semester, her boyfriend was in Florence when I was in England, so maybe if I would have known I might have gone to visit,” Andich said.
In addition to helping future study abroad students feel confident about their study abroad experience, the Study Abroad Society also provides a place for students coming back to America a place to talk about their experience to those who know what it is like. Just as there are universal experiences that bind study abroad students before departure, those who return have plenty in common.
Many returning students describe themselves as being more outgoing as a result of studying abroad and Andich is no exception.
“I think I’m better at talking to people than I was before,” said Andich. “When I first got there I didn’t know anybody and I had to force myself to be really outgoing and really put myself out there.”
She said on the first day in England she had time to kill after unpacking and decided to go outside and see the nearly deserted campus for herself. She saw someone outside and said the situation allowed her to get out of her shell and try to communicate with him.
“We both kind of like looked at each other and (said) ’are you American?’ ‘Yeah, are you?’ and we ended up walking around the city together and we became pretty good friends after that,” she said.
This kind of serendipitous connection that can be accomplished on a study abroad experience is the kind of connection the Study Abroad Society seeks to foster here at Eastern.
The Final Word: Making the World Safe for Diversity
By Abbie Feldman
Last summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Toronto, Canada for the Toronto for Teachers program. After deciding to participate in this program, I had continually heard that Toronto is known for its diversity. With Canada being a bordering country to the states, I had no idea how the acceptance of diversity could change with just a two hour plane ride to the other side of upstate New York.
I will never forget the time in Toronto when a group of us were riding the street car back to our “home” for those ten days. It had been a long day of observing classes in different Canadian schools and we had just eaten our first real meal of the day. To say the least, we were in that overly tired, slap-happy mood. As the street car was full, we stood trying to balance ourselves as the street car took off to the next stop. Due to the lack of sleep and long day, we all began to giggle, wobbling back and forth from our insufficient balancing skills. The next thing I know, a younger woman asked, “You’re all American, aren’t you?” I told her yes and explained why we were in the area. Her response, “I could tell you were from the States.” At first, I thought this was an insult. Therefore, I apologized for our possible obnoxiousness. She replied, “No, don’t apologize. Have fun. Enjoy your time here in Canada.” Granted, this woman I spoke to was only one person, and only her opinion. However, I had never felt as welcomed in a “foreign” country as I did that day in Toronto.
Another day, Eastern students were divided into groups and were assigned a tourist for the day. I had the opportunity to go on a tour of Toronto’s Chinatown with a college student who had actually emigrated from China. As she took us to lunch, we were able to ask her questions. As a competitive American, I asked, “Why did you choose Canada over America?” She responded with, “Canada is a lot easier to immigrate to. Canada also accepts all colors. Yes, America does, too, but not to the extent that Canada does. I feel comfortable here. This is my home.” I will never forget those strong, passionate words she spoke of Canada.
Overall, through my experience in Toronto, I had learned that so much can change with just a little bit of distance. I observed diversity being accepted and praised in Canada. As President John F. Kennedy said, “If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.” I observed Canada doing just that. Canada is making their country a safe place for diversity.