By Mary Chickos
**Image courtesy of openclipart.org
There are many reasons to study abroad. However planning and applying for studying abroad can be confusing and overwhelming. Nevertheless, once the students are abroad, many will have the time of their life. But in order to make the most of the program, students must invest the time and make an effort to research and plan ahead. On February 10 the Office of Multicultural Student Services held a workshop that featured a panel of four students sharing their experiences.
Maureen McCarthy, senior, anthropology, talked about how incredible her experience in Galway, Ireland was and how she traveled through Europe, meeting people from all over the world. Joan Hines, a library assistant at the St. Louis County library, spoke about her experience studying abroad in Italy where she visited Rome and Pompeii for several weeks. “Venice was an amazing city with many museums, including the statue of David,” said Hines. She talked about Botticelli’s birth of Venus in Florence as well as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. In the Vatican City, she also saw the Sistine Chapel. She had a travel guide as well as some free time for sightseeing. Her package included hotels that were booked for her ahead of time.
Alonda Anderson, senior, psychology, took a semester abroad program that was led by faculty to Ghana in West Africa. “UMSL tuition was about the same and the people were friendly and most spoke English,” said Anderson. She brought back different African fabrics. She talked about her visit to Cape Coast Castle, boating, and taking a traditional African dance class. She said that she spent no more than $5 per day in living expenses in this country.
Kevin Gomez, senior, political science, visited Uraguay, south of Brazil. “Uraguay is like the Switzerland of Latin America and its culture is very European,” said Gomez. Though it is in Argentina, Buenos Aires is the largest city nearby and is easy to travel to. He took a plane to Panama City and then backpacked through South America to Montevideo, Uraguay, where his program was being held, along with other study abroad students, stopping in youth hostels along the way. He was in Brazil for the World Cup which he said was an amazing experience in itself.
Steps for applying for a study abroad program include:
- Familiarize yourself with the website www.studyabroad.umsl.edu and clicking the “Getting Started” tab.
- Meet with a peer advisor Monday through Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for an introduction to the study abroad process in 261 MSC.
- Meet with a Study Abroad Coordinator. Discuss goals and reasons for studying abroad. Have an idea of what type of program you are interested in. There are over 80 countries for student exchange.
- Apply for a program. Complete an application with a deposit. Fill out a scholarship application and write an essay.
- Upon acceptance there are additional steps to consider. Passports are mandatory and some countries may require a visa.
What is best for each student is different. Think about responsibilities, a job, and family that may influence when is best to study abroad. Although some students choose to go their last semester, it is recommended to go earlier. Application deadlines are in early September for spring and early February for fall academic year programs. Summer programs take place in May and over the summer term, and application deadlines are typically in early February.
(c) The Current 2015