Have you ever wanted to study engineering in Germany, geology in Hawaii, or business in Mexico? Have you ever wanted to spend the semester or the summer somewhere brand new?
Studying abroad or doing a national student exchange is a great opportunity to see the world. However, less than 3% of UTC students take advantage of the opportunity.
“I think it’s very important, the experience of being out of the ordinary, learning a new language, learning from new faculty, studying a new way, learning a new culture, becoming more of a global citizen,” says Hugh Prevost, director of UTC’s International Program, National Student Exchange Program, and Cooperative Education Program.
Recently the UTC Study Abroad Fair featured representatives from study abroad organizations, UTC faculty, and students who have studied abroad who shared their experiences.
Jim Walpert, an M.B.A student, went to Mexico.
November 3: International Student Organization to lead Hunter Museum TripNovember 24: ISO will host a Thanksgiving dinner
December 3: ISO will have a finals breakfast
These are excellent opportunities to get to meet and talk to students who are at UTC through national and international exchanges.
“It broadens your horizons. These days, it’s a global economy. This gives you a base to learn about how other countries, other cultures do business. A lot of companies have people come from overseas to work and this helps you understand their culture, not just business culture, but personal culture as well,” said Walpert.
There are different options for studying abroad or somewhere else within the country. The traditional study abroad program lasts a semester, like Kelsey Oliver’s experience. Oliver is an English/Political Science major who studied abroad in Japan.
“I would say study abroad was the greatest decision I ever made with my life. It really helped me grow as a person. I was really introverted before I went. Studying abroad in a country where I didn’t speak the language very well and where I was such a minority made it a really cool experience,” said Oliver.
Audrey Lloyd studied in Amiens, France.
“I was a French minor, which has since turned into a French major. I went with the intentions of improving my French and just to travel, see the world, and meet new people. I went to really put myself outside my comfort zone. I completely recommend studying abroad. I can’t say enough good things about my experience. There is no harm with extending your comfort zone and trying new things. Now I feel like I can do anything. Nothing really seems intimidating now that I have survived living on my own in a foreign country.”
There are also semester and yearlong national student exchange options, where students study somewhere within the United States or Canada, which are particularly good for students on a tighter budget.
“I went to Hawaii, which was awesome because they have volcanoes and unique geology there,” said Rachel Terry, an Environmental Science: Geology major, “It gives you a different perspective on the world. In Hawaii they had Hawaiian culture as well as Polynesian culture and Asian culture. The school we went to had no majority, so it was all different cultures and people. It was a good way to experience different culture without leaving the country. And national exchange is a good affordable option. It was actually cheaper than coming to UTC because I paid their in state tuition.”
There are also international internships and volunteer abroad programs. All of these options allow students to earn academic credit. Additionally, any financial aid and scholarships that the student would ordinarily receive is applied to their time abroad.
Kristin Labs, Assistant Director of the International Programs Office, encourages students to take advantage of the opportunity to study somewhere new.
“As an undergraduate student years ago, I studied abroad and it changed the way I looked at the world and the direction I took with my career. I think every student should have the opportunity to do something like this while they are in college. We have something to offer everyone. There are so many different programs that UTC can offer, depending on cost limitation, length of time, and major. I really want to encourage everyone to take advantage of these once in a life time opportunities to challenge themselves personally, academically, and to market themselves better in whatever field you want to go into,” said Labs.
Jessica Bloomfield Kitchens, a UTC alumna who went to both Ghana and India, found both of her current jobs through studying abroad.
“I got my yoga teacher certification while in India and pursued yoga therapy once I returned to the states and now I am a practicing yoga therapist. I am also a professional traditional African dancer (thanks to the classes I took at my university abroad) and have performed yearly at festivals as big as Bonnaroo! I never foresaw any of this for a moment!” exclaimed Kitchens.
If you want to learn more about studying abroad or at another American university, plan to attend one of the study abroad information sessions to find out exactly what study abroad and exchange programs are and how to get started. These information sessions are held two to three times a week throughout the fall and spring semesters. Students must attend one of these information sessions before they can proceed with the process. For a list of information session dates, please check here (https://utc-sa.terradotta.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=Abroad.ViewLink&Link_ID=D83588DE-782B-CB2F-B95964A00888910E).
Next, students need to make an appointment with the Office of International Programs to sit down with an advisor. The advisor will work with your interests and motivations, as well as cost and time limitations, to help plan the study abroad experience.
“We can find programs for everyone, regardless of major or cost limitations. Don’t limit yourself, don’t think it’s too hard or too expensive for you to do. Come in and find out more information before you check it off as something unattainable,” says Labs.
From summer programs focusing on the sporting industry in Australia to engineering programs in Germany, there’s a variety of different programs
“Each of the students who travels abroad and each one who comes here to study at UTC brings a piece of their country with them, in the process they teach us and we teach them. But the main thing is the friendships that are built and I think that’s important,” said Prevost.
“The fun thing for me is to see the student who left and the student who comes back and they are always changed. All of them develop new relationships. They have close friends who they have lived with and eaten with all over the world. And the fun thing is that we get to meet some of those friends, because those friends come here and our students go there during vacations.”