If there is anything I would recommend that a college student do, I would strongly suggest that he or she study abroad.
Initially, especially as a student, the idea of studying abroad is rather intimidating. Finances, language and cultural barriers, and the long to-do list to complete in order to gain course credit may all seem too tedious for our busy schedules. However, the rewards of traveling to a foreign country are immeasurable. The experiences of eating different foods, interacting with college students of different backgrounds and immersing yourself in a world completely unknown to your own are things that you just don’t gain from a classroom on campus. Students who have stepped outside of Georgia State can attest to the enrichment they have received, and many have acquired an addiction to collecting visa stamps on their passports.
For students who need a gentle push toward their first international flight, here is a list of things to know and consider before starting:
- If at all possible, find a study abroad program that is hosted by Georgia State within your college. This typically leads to much less paperwork and hassle. There are also no application fees, unlike many other study abroad programs offered by non-Georgia State institutions. Plus, the program directors would be right here on campus, so it is easier to reach them for any questions or concerns.
- Paperwork for different programs tend to vary, but generally you will be asked to get a physician’s note from your family doctor or the Georgia State clinic.
- For financial aid, you will be asked to consult with a study abroad financial aid adviser at the One Stop Shop, and there you will fill out an “Intent to Study Abroad” form. Did I mention you could get a part of your mandatory fees waived? Ask about that!
- If you cannot find a program within your college, often you could get credit from a program in a related field. For example, this May I will be joining Dr. Gabriel Kuperminc and his psychology students for a program in Argentina, even though I am a journalism and philosophy major!
- Early, early, early. Be early, apply early! Most study abroad programs open up the application process a semester before departure. If the program is longer than a Maymester, sometimes you will have to start applying an entire year ahead of time.
What more is there to consider? Some students have opted to wait until after graduation to travel, but the likelihood of meeting students like ourselves becomes slim. Instead of wandering aimlessly in a foreign country by myself, I find it undeniably more enjoyable to have youthful company show me their world, through their eyes.
Now that is rich learning.