California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Study Abroad offers more than just adventure

Over the past few years, studying abroad has become a popular experience for California Lutheran University students to take part in during their college careers.

According to CLU’s study abroad center, about 200 students study abroad each academic year and the interest continues to grow around campus.

Although I have never studied abroad, I will always regret not taking advantage of the opportunities and impacts that studying abroad could have had on my life, career and perspective.

By going to a school that provides a study abroad center and encourages students to study in a different part of the globe, we are easily able to access the benefits that come from the experience.

Students are able to see a different part of the world, obtain perspective of another culture, grow independently and gain skills to help in the workplace and in every day life.

“In terms of a study abroad experience, there’s personal growth, increased global understanding and students tend to have their world opened up a lot. By going abroad, you’re seeing things through a different lens, you’re seeing it through someone else’s eyes for the first time,” said Stephanie Shaker Sullivan, assistant director of the CLU study abroad center.

When you travel to another part of the world and experience a culture, you gain insight that is often unseen by those who have not traveled outside of their comfort zone.

At times, our small CLU community can feel like a bubble. Studying abroad can provide a breakage to that bubble and help immerse us in ways that we may not be used to.

“There’s an increased global understanding gained, which helps us to be more informed and more empathetic to other people and other places,” Shaker Sullivan said.

One reason that CLU senior Hannah Boelman went abroad to Sevilla, Spain was to “experience something new.”

“I was ready to meet new people and experience new things. I actually learned how to deal with challenges on my own without my major support bubble with me all the time,” Boelman said.

“I am way more understanding of other cultures and countries. From being able to look at the United States from an outside perspective, I have become sensitive to other views and opinions. I also now have the travel bug and want to experience as many different cultures as I can.”

Shaker Sullivan said that one major benefit of studying abroad versus just traveling abroad is that students are compelled to mix and make a connection with different types of people.

Since students are in class engaging with students and professors from around the world, they tend to gain a confidence that allows them to go out and converse with local people.

Shaker Sullivan made a valid point that when you’re a tourist, you get an introduction to a place; however when you study there, you actually get to connect more closely with the community in different ways.

Studying abroad is also a great add to your resume.

“You gain lots of skills that allow you to become a person that is very valuable to employers. Many people travel abroad but do not study there,” Shaker Sullivan said.

A recent Harvard business study by William W. Madduz, Adam D. Galinsky and Carmit T. Tadmor found that students who have international experience are more likely to create new businesses and products and to be promoted.

The study also found that those with international experience are better problem solvers and display more creativity.

After speaking with several students who have studied abroad, I found that every study abroad experience is different. For junior Ashley Marten, her study abroad excursion to Morocco was much different than what she expected.

“I had a new program. It was the first year they had a program in Morocco and it was highly underdeveloped. Many things I was promised I did not receive, like an individual who could speak some English, and my hospital placement,” Marten said.

However, Marten’s experience did not keep her from wanting to travel and experience more of the benefits from studying abroad.

“I would not have been able to learn so much about Muslim culture in Morocco from any textbook or website. If anything, the experience sparked my interests more. I am doing everything I can to travel as much as possible,” Marten said.

Studying abroad is beneficial for students because of the skills earned, experiences and memories made and the real understanding gained of global perspective.

It never hurts to weigh your options and check out the numerous types of programs that the CLU Study Abroad Center offers. You won’t regret it.


Emily Behrs
Staff Writer
Published Nov. 6, 2013

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