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Wednesday, September 11,2013

There’s no shortage of reasons to study abroad

By Nadia Kurtz

Photo Caption: Morgan Stanley with part of her study abroad group in Paris France (with an “O-H-I-O-U” greeting.)

For college students, lazy summer days filled with trips to the pool and sleeping until noon are long gone. With increasing pressure to succeed, students are either working part-time jobs, enrolling in summer classes or engaging in an internship.

Some students, however, are becoming immersed in another culture, speaking a foreign language, and tasting les escargots or moussaka. These students are studying abroad.

According to Ohio University's annual study abroad survey for 2011-2012, roughly 700 OU students from all different majors made the decision to study abroad that school year.

According to Lori Lammert, associate director of the Office of Education Abroad at OU, traveling abroad is not only a means for students to enjoy a vacation or improve a language, but it's also a valuable tool when it comes to refining skill sets.

"When you go abroad, you not only take responsibility for a pretty significant undertaking... It shows that you are independent, that you are able to communicate with people different from yourself... It shows motivation and initiative," said Lammert.

Many students do choose study abroad for those reasons, but every student also has more personal reasons for wanting to explore another country.

This past summer, OU students scattered around the globe to enrich themselves with different cultures for a variety of motives.

One particular student, junior Morgan Stanley, visited the "City of Lights," otherwise known as Paris, France.

"As a person, this trip caused me to grow and mature... I find myself thinking about studying abroad again instead of being here," said Stanley, who felt that studying abroad truly enhanced her Ohio University experience.

"It gave me a very different outlook on pretty much everything. As a person, this trip caused me to grow and mature," she added.

Like Stanley, who studies French in school, many OU students decide to travel abroad for educational reasons. Whether they're language majors or simply feel that an abroad experience will benefit their educations, many students who travel are determined to optimize their learning experiences in college.

Other students, including Caitlyn McDaniel a junior war and peace major, go abroad to become immersed in a completely different culture.

"The locals were the best part of my experience," said McDaniel, who spent five weeks in Edinburgh, Scotland. "From the night clubs to the academic buildings to the shops and the restaurants, everyone I met had a story to tell about Edinburgh... We even befriended a copper who gave us directions to the best waffle place!"

For students who have spent all or most of their lives in one place, spending time in a different country can be tremendously enlightening and can build a sense of responsibility and confidence.

"I came away with such a sense of security in myself and my own abilities," said McDaniel. "Traveling teaches you how to problem solve, how to look at situations in a new light and then tackle them successfully. All while having fun and seeking a new level of consciousness."

For junior broadcast journalism major, A.J. Davis, the opportunity to study abroad allowed him to get in touch with his roots. Leipzig, Germany was just the place to do that.

Davis took his German-speaking skills and native looks to the city for four weeks this past May. While maintaining conversations with locals, he was able to practice the language that is so important to his heritage.

Other than immersing himself in Leipzig, Davis enjoyed traveling to different parts of Europe to broaden the experience. Before the actual program commenced, Davis took a week to travel Italy and spent time in other places such as Berlin on the weekends.

"I would have to say traveling was the best part of the trip... Every weekend we went somewhere new," Davis said. "It was so cool to see Europe without having to be shuffled somewhere. If I could I would have spent the entire trip traveling to a new place, but if I wasn't traveling I was shopping at the little shops in the city center of Leipzig."

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