By: Julie Pike, News Editor
In the last few months I’ve travelled to eight different countries, met a plethora of students from around the world, and had once in a lifetime experiences. This would not have happened without the study abroad program at USM. I attended the University of Winchester, in Winchester, England, a school I would’ve never known about before I visited the international programs office in Payson Smith.
I was shown a pamphlet that featured 11 different schools around the world that USM had a direct exchange program with. USM has been offering international programs for the last 15 years and has built up a solid list of schools they work with. These schools include countries such as Canada, Iceland, England, Scotland, The Netherlands, Japan and South Korea. Working with Kaoru Phillips, the Assistant Director of International Programs, and Emily Zider, Coordinator of Education Abroad, they helped make my decision easy. I knew I wanted to be in a country that spoke English, and the University of Winchester had a semester schedule similar to USM. Once I found out that the journalism program at Winchester was ranked as the number one choice in England, it was a done deal.
Zider believes that students can gain a “global perspective, cultural awareness, empathy, confidence, friendship, a renewed sense of adventure, curiosity, and a deepend love for humanity.” The benefits of the opportunity to travel while in school can go on and on. “When you connect with others from a culture completely different from your own, you discover that you are actually quite similar,” Zider stated. “These connections are powerful – and world changing. You learn so much about yourself and the strength of your abilities to conquer the unknown.”
This program also made my semester abroad incredibly affordable, as I paid only tuition to USM and then room-and-board to the other university. Not to mention the numerous scholarship options for students looking to travel abroad, including the Dara J. Kaufman Memorial Scholarship and the A. Carolla Haglund ‘51 Scholarship. Scholarships paired with the helpful staff from financial services, the cost of this experience was one that I could afford.
I also worked closely with my academic advisor Russell Kivatsky, who was supportive of me through the entire process. He made it easy for me to find courses from Winchester that would easily transfer back to USM. In this program I only had to make sure I passed all of my classes at Winchester to get full credit, and those grades do not affect my GPA.
Zider stated that currently around 40 students study abroad on semester long programs at USM. Over 100 students participate in short term travel programs. With an enrollment of over 6,000 students across USM’s three campuses, that means only 2 percent of students are using the study abroad programs. Taking the time to study abroad can completely change your outlook on life, better prepare you for your future, and be a once in a lifetime experience, one that more students at USM should take advantage of.
For those who are interested in finding out more about studying abroad, they can contact the office of international programs in 101 Payson Smith to set up an appointment or send an email to [email protected]. The staff in the international office are there to help students find what programs work best for you.