(Orientation) Study abroad programs provide unique experiences

Jenna Kuczkowski

Italy. Geneva. France. China. There are no limits to where a study abroad adventure could take college students.

Kent State offers more than 200 different study abroad programs for students to take advantage of and get out of their comfort zone, experiencing an entirely new culture.

Amber Cruxton, assistant director of Education Abroad at Kent State, said there are many ways studying abroad can broaden a student’s personal, academic and professional horizons.

“Students will be able to spend time learning what it’s like to live in another country. This opens their eyes to another part of the world that they would never understand if they stayed in the United States for their entire life,” Cruxton said. “(They) will meet new people, and it gives them an increased understanding of their cultural values and biases.”

Joseph Young, a senior visual communication design major, said he really needed a bigger perspective on the world and he found that by spending his summer studying at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China.

“I learned that there’s a large global community made of people like you and I. We all have our daily conflicts, we all suffer from loss and we all … (try to get the) best out of our existence,” Young said. “And although these experiences are relative to our culture and geography, the fact that we both encounter them at all is a point to relate on with other cultures and people.”

Senior fashion merchandising major Morgan Lecce, who studied in Florence, Italy, at Kent State’s sister campus during the 2015 spring semester, said her trip was an experience like no other.

“Going to Florence allowed me to be unafraid to leap in and experience new cultures,” Leece said. “Being immersed so quickly and deeply was the best way to do it.”

Cruxton said there are also many studies that show that students who study abroad are more likely to receive a job right out of college and at a higher pay, as well as graduate with higher GPAs compared to those students who do not go abroad.

A study by the Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative looked at more than 19,000 students who participated in study abroad in the University System of Georgia.

It was found that students who studied abroad experienced an higher increase in their GPAs than students who didn’t study abroad.

Not only has it been proven that studying abroad can it improve a student’s chances of getting a job, but it also offers an experience they might not be able to have or afford later in life.

“Once a student graduates, they will have new responsibilities that will make it more difficult to take time and travel,” Cruxton said. “While in college, students can utilize their financial aid to help fund their time abroad—an option that is certainly not available after college.”

Young and Lecce both agree they would recommend studying abroad to other students after their own experiences in China and Italy.

“I have to find a way to do it again,” Young said. “When you learn how other cultures learn, you begin to examine the different facets of your own education. You also come across a wide range of new ideas and ways of life, in and out of the classroom.”

To find out more about specific programs and what is offered, attend the Education Abroad Expo on Sept. 15 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Center. More than 30 programs will be on display for students to check out all of their options.