Group connects students planning to study abroad

Wezley Garlick

More than 300 student organizations are registered at Kent State. Within the past year, one new organization has risen to help the needs of students who plan on traveling abroad.

The Study Abroad Student Association officially became an organization on campus in Fall 2011. SASA’s goal is to help any student at any point during their study abroad process.

“We try to connect students who are going abroad with people who’ve been there and can answer their questions; we are available for students who are abroad,” said SASA president Jessica Miller. “And we are trying to provide a forum for students when they return home. Ultimately, we are an organization by students for students.”

SASA provides the students with a forum to talk about their personal travels.

“One of the best ways to readjust to ‘reverse culture shock’ is to talk about the experience, which SASA helps facilitate by connecting Study Abroad [alumni] with those planning on going,” Miller said.

Paul Mitchell, former president of the organization and Office of Global Education employee, said he formed the group to help students in every phase of studying abroad, from planning the trip to returning home.

“Each of these stages have their own unique challenges, and having a group of people to consult that has experienced these challenges can be a huge asset to those going through them for the first time,” Mitchell said.

When previous study abroad students share their experiences, it helps them relive their trip and get readjusted to life back home. It also helps those who have yet to travel abroad learn tips and advice on having a great trip.

Chloe Makarick, senior visual journalism major, was able to study abroad through a program called Semester at Sea with the University of Virginia. She visited 11 countries in three and a half months. Last fall was her first semester back on campus.

“Going to SASA meetings was really great for me to process my experiences and share my stories with people who care and would listen,” Makarick said. “Even though no one else there was on my particular study abroad program, there is still a common bond and connection you share with others who have gone outside their comfort zones and studied abroad.”

Most importantly, SASA is an organization made up of students with the intention of helping other students.

“SASA is such a great tool to be able to facilitate those exchanges [between students] and hopefully make the study abroad process easier for everyone,” Miller said.

SASA is holding its next meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Student Center. Students interested in SASA can contact Miller at [email protected]

Contact Wezley Garlick at [email protected].