“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game” -Babe Ruth
This past weekend, SAI Ambassador Danielle worked at her school’s Fall Open House through the study abroad department and had the chance to speak with potential students to share her experiences as a student abroad and answer some of their questions and sooth their doubts. So here is her take of some of the most common questions she got.
Why should I go abroad? What makes it so special?
The opportunity of studying abroad is often taken for granted. If we ask our parents they will tell us that programs like this didn’t exist when they went to school, they lived in a time where traveling abroad was not as common as it is now. Our generation is challenging how people think not only through different cultures, but in the need to know additional languages and learn about how other nations function. Studying abroad enables you to immerse yourself in a new location to learn about its people, culture, language, and so much more. For those more interested in how study abroad will look on a resume consider this, of the millions of students in college only about 1-2% go abroad. That narrows the margins considerably and makes you stand out to employers.
Some people like me, choose to go to learn more about themselves and their family origins, others go to see the world or have a fun semester with friends, whatever your reason is, make the most of your experience.
What if I don’t feel comfortable going abroad for a full semester?
No worries! Plenty of people choose to go abroad for a shortened period of time whether its for comfort or so they don’t miss a semester of required courses. Abroad programs are aware of this and have reduced abroad periods such summer programs, winter sessions, four-week sessions, six-week sessions, and eight-week sessions available.
What if I can’t go abroad during the semester but need internship credit over the summer?
SAI offers internships in a variety of fields that enable you to study and work in the field with professionals. The option of having an internship abroad enables students to test their knowledge and learn from professionals in a unique way. It also provides a chance to build up a working professional knowledge of the language native to the country of your choice.
If I am a pre-med student am I allowed to go abroad?
YES!! All students are welcome to travel and study abroad. No matter what major you have there are always classes you can take to satisfy requirements. I had a roommate while I was abroad who was pre-med, and she took courses in biomedical ethics, physics, and organic chemistry. While your major may restrict you to some specified locations if you plan to take major courses abroad, often the schools such as Florence University of the Arts and John Cabot University in Rome have a wide variety of course options that enable everyone to find a way to still complete their requirements within the four-year time period.
Here’s my piece of advice, at a liberal arts institution there are required general academic requirements (GARs), or some variation of that, that are required to graduate. If you know what you want to do save the GARs for your time abroad. That way you get to take courses that are interesting and fun while fulfilling a graduation requirement. If you don’t know what you want to study that’s fine, use your GARs freshman year to dabble in interesting subjects so that you stay on track and enable yourself the option of a semester of nonrequired courses abroad.
What if I don’t have enough money to travel outside of my chosen country?
There is no requirement to travel all over. In fact, I would advise students to explore their host city and country rather than go abroad to other nations. A lot of people go to a different country every weekend, and that’s a fine way to travel, however my take on it is use your short weekends and day trips to explore as much of your host country as possible because two days in a country is not enough. To be honest even the entire semester isn’t enough to truly see everything because not every town or region in the country is the same so take the time to enjoy it.
My advice pick one or two countries you really want to see other than your host country and plan to spend your spring break and/ or a long weekend there. This enables you to not feel rushed and fully enjoy these places at a leisurely pace.
What if I don’t have any friends to go with?
When I was getting ready to travel abroad I was pleasantly surprised to find that most people I knew had decided to go abroad without planning to do so with friends. As I myself was going alone this provided me with the confidence I needed to find my own way and not focus too much on my doubts. Going alone was one of the best parts of my experience. It made me so much more open to meeting people and doing things I would enjoy without having to worry. I found when I got back that the people I knew who went with friends made less new friends than those I knew who went alone. That’s not to say going alone is better, it is simple another option to having an amazing time. In other words, don’t let what your friends do stop you from enjoying yourself.
I am aware that one article cannot satisfactorily answer every question or soothe every doubt, but I firmly believe that if you want something to happen you have the ability to make it happen. To quote Babe Ruth, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
Danielle was an SAI Florence spring 2018 student from Muhlenberg College.