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Upperclassmen claim study abroad changes world view

POSTED AT 11:24 PM ON Dec. 8, 2008 

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As the semester comes to an end, many students are busy finishing up finals and rearranging their schedule for the spring.

But junior Kim Markowitz is preparing for her four-month internship in London.

“It’s important to have an understanding of how other places in the world work,” said Markowitz, a communication and culture major.

Even though she said she is nervous about the exchange rate, food differences and communication with family and friends, she is confident her time in London will open her eyes to the rest of the world.

The Office of Overseas Assistant Director Kendra Nelson agrees that experiences abroad can change a student’s perspective and major entirely. About 20 percent of all IU undergraduate students have some kind of international study experience, which Nelson would like to see increase.

Nelson said she believes there are many advantages for studying abroad, such as living on your own in an unfamiliar place, seeing things from an entirely different perspective, developing new skills and obtaining first-hand experience through classes, internships and jobs.

The Office of Overseas Study advises students to look at programs that best fit their academic needs and requirements. Nelson said the directors and peer counselors are in the office every weekday to help students decide what program is best for them based on length, classes, housing options and eligibility such as GPA and class standing.

There is also an information session held at 4 p.m. every Wednesday in Franklin Hall 303 called Study Abroad 101 where advisers explain study abroad options to students and answer questions.

Peer counselor and senior Katya Hooker suggests students read about the country they will be visiting before they leave so the culture shock is not so intense.

After studying photography this past summer in Osaka, Japan, Hooker said she came back to the U.S. with more knowledge about Asian art and culture. However, after only six weeks abroad, she was still bowing when she said hello to people on campus.

“Studying abroad in Japan was very humbling and educational at the same time,” Hooker said.

Some students study abroad through non-IU programs because of options like location, grade requirements and housing choices. Nelson said there is nothing wrong with going through a different school as long as the student checks to make sure his or her credits will transfer correctly.

Senior Eric Kramer, a marketing major, studied in Sydney, Australia, last spring.

“People have a misconception about Australia before they actually go,” Kramer said. “After a semester of I-CORE, it was a nice break to be in constant nice weather. The no-worries mentality is life changing and Sydney is like the New York City of Australia.”

Kramer said he’s able to refer back to his sales experience overseas at Build-A-Bear Workshop during job interviews this year.

Financially, studying abroad is about the same when comparing in-state and out-of-state tuition and room and board rate, and Nelson encourages students to look into scholarships, financial aid and federal loans and grants to help bring down the cost.

She said she encourages students to make choices for personal and educational reasons.

“Different schools across the country are affected by the economy in different ways right now, but Indiana is at a pretty good place,” Nelson said.

 

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