Life-changing events await students abroad

Feb. 4, 2015

Royal Purple Staff Opinion

Going to college offers students an abundance of opportunities, such as joining various student organizations, getting involved in a fraternity or sorority, taking part in many events on campus and career-building workshops.

Unfortunately, however, many of these amazing events and groups—whether directly tied to a future career, or simply for fun—are overlooked or underappreciated.Ops Graphic

One of the most overlooked opportunities on campus is studying abroad. This is a life-changing experience that absolutely no one should miss.

With so many different programs available, there is something for nearly every person on campus. People often worry about cost, fitting it into their schedule and the discomfort of being in a different place. There are simple solutions to all of these issues that make studying abroad easy and attainable.

Cost is the most intimidating factor for many students when it comes to studying abroad, and frequently thinking about how expensive it can be scares students away from the idea before they can even learn about how to fund their trip.

There are many ways to approach funding the cost of a trip. The first step is researching the numerous programs available and finding one where the cost is comfortable or manageable. Exchanges or programs through sister-universities are just a few of the many affordable options that offer very close to UW tuition rates.

The second step is to apply for as many grants and scholarships as you can. What many students don’t realize is how much financial is aid available to study abroad students, and it can help tremendously with the cost.

Along with helping find the right cost for you, searching through the various programs also helps identify what can fit into your degree schedule. Programs exist for a huge variety of majors and minors on campus, and the credits you earn abroad can be transferred to credits you take toward your degree.

If you find a program that offers courses that don’t contribute to your degree, another option is to take a couple summer or winterim courses as well.

Sometimes, the problem is just being nervous about being in a different place. It’s completely understandable to be cautious about leaving your comfort zone; however, by taking this step, you learn, experience, change and grow.

You can learn about a culture in a classroom, but you don’t truly understand it until you submerge yourself in it. It takes effort, but it is a truly rewarding experience to be able to live like a local rather than a tourist.

Most study abroad programs also give you some time or chances to travel outside of wherever you are studying, which means exploring and discovering breathtaking scenery, amazing history and a different way of living.

Studying abroad takes a lot of planning, research, and preparation, but it is one of the most rewarding things you can do with your time here in college. You grow as an individual, and you experience historical sights in countries all over the world you can never see by staying on campus the whole time.

An important thing to take into account is that traveling the world will be much easier now than it ever will be after you graduate college. As cliché as it sounds, where there is a will there is a way—it can be done, no matter what language you speak, how much money you have or whether or not you want to graduate in four years.

To learn more about studying abroad and planning your experience, attend a study abroad fair, visit the Global Education Office in person or online at http://www.uww.edu/international and start talking to people who have already studied abroad.

The only thing standing between you and the experience of a lifetime is the fact that you haven’t started yet.

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