Gain cultural experience with study abroad trips

Published in the Sept. 28, 2016 issue of The Bells

For many years now, UMHB students have participated in study abroad trips in places all around the world. Depending on the country students are traveling to, these trips can last anywhere from an entire semester to a May mini-term.

There are currently ten study abroad trips for the year 2017, which includes countries like Italy, Thailand, Lithuania, Peru Ireland, and many more.
Students will soon have another chance to explore endless possibilities in one of these faraway places.

But, how does a student know if Study Abroad is right for them? According to former Study Abroad students, new world travelers should ask themselves these questions:
Do you want to be introduced to a new culture and try new things?
Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone?
Do you want to be immersed in a language foreign to you?

But former students said that despite the rich cultural experience, studying abroad is not a vacation.

Students do have free time to explore the culture, but the time away from the States does count as college credit, so most of the time students are learning.
Some programs require students to meet specific criteria, but often times, students have already completed the necessary requirements. If a student is enrolled in a nursing course, they can be eligible for the School of Nursing’s trip to Peru.

Dr. Sharon Souter, the Dean of the College of Nursing, leads this group to achieve global perspectives and have students observe health and nursing intervention on a global scale.

“My favorite part of the trip is watching the students improve as they interact with the citizens,” Souter said. “I also love to see them realize how fortunate they are to live in the US.”

In the summer of 2016, senior Spanish Major Alex Stewart attended UMHB’s study abroad trip to Costa Rica for 28 days. While there she studied the history and culture of Costa Rica and other Latin American countries.
”I felt like I was learning at every moment every single day,” Stewart said.

Even though Stewart was only in class from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., Monday through Friday in a local school building, after class she and other students would go on excursions to different areas to experience the culture first hand.

Not only did Stewart get to experience the culture through outings, she was also immersed in Costa Rican customs through classes taught by locals.

“My favorite part was going the beach while walking through a national park’s scenic trail,” she said. “All these tiny monkeys came out and we and heard them playing. Then they were all around us. Then we came across a bridge and saw the beach with the extremely blue water and the water crashing against the rocks.”

Stewart said the experience was amazing and if she could pack her bags and go back tomorrow she would. Because she enjoyed her time abroad so much, the Spanish major believes other students should take a chance on one of UMHB programs.

“Students should go on study abroad trips at least once even if it is only for a week,” she said. “They can learn so much.”

Stewart said that students can go to explore the fields they hope to go into, or for the eye-opening experience. Either way, students are able to obtain a new perspective on the world and affect the lives of those they encounter.

Author: Madeline Oden

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