(THE PICKET)—In an attempt to show students the benefits of furthering their academic career immersed in another culture, Shepherd University’s Study Abroad office held an informational fair in the student center Thursday, Sept. 24.
“We are here to enable the students to become global citizens, and the way they do that is by going out of their comfort zone and studying abroad,” said Study Abroad Director Ann Henriksson. “Studying abroad gives students the opportunity to learn not only about a different country, but also about themselves, and it gives them an edge as far as jobs. When you study abroad, you are basically on your own, and you have to be a problem-solver. Students are changed when they study abroad, they come back more mature… they take risks.”
Study abroad programs that fit with student majors are available, Henriksson said. The art department offers a program every other year; they spent a month in Europe last year. The history department sponsors a Development of Democracy program in Europe every year, and they’re making the trip again next summer. The education and nursing departments are sponsoring a spring break trip to Jamaica where education students will assist local schools and nursing students will work in local hospitals.
To qualify to study abroad, a Shepherd student must have at least a 2.5 GPA, with some departments or programs requiring a higher threshold. A minimum of 30 credit hours are also required, with at least 15 of those earned at Shepherd, with the last 12 of the hours also being earned at Shepherd. It is helpful to decide on which trip to take early, as the Study Abroad Office recommends that a student begin the application process between nine months and a year before actually going abroad.
Graham Scott, a 21-year-old senior majoring in political science, went to Scotland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Greece and Turkey with the political science and history departments, as well as interning with the Canadian Parliament this past summer through the political science department.
“The Europe trip was really fun. You get to spend time in a lot of different countries, and while it’s a school trip and you have to do some work for it the (sponsors) make sure you have ample free time to explore the cities and culture for yourself,” Scott said. “I really enjoyed getting to stay with a host family for a week in Belgium. Istanbul was also a really cool experience because I was able to experience a culture so different than mine, yet not as bad as so many of our preconceptions.”
Ian McCauley, a 22-year-old senior majoring in political science, said the Italian portion of the European political science trip was his favorite.
“My favorite was Siena because being able to eat real Italian pizza while drinking wine with good friends and having this view was just the best time,” he said.
“Aside from majoring in political science, choosing to go on my two study abroad trips is the best decision I’ve made during my college career,” Scott said.
Mike Morris is a Practicum writer for the Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @adelelcoolj