Should I study at the same school for three or four years or leave for a while to live in a different country with a unique culture? This is a question many students ask them- selves when beginning their studies at a university. It’s important to ask this question early, because students who want to study abroad need a strong academic record and know the requirements for studying abroad, which takes time and effort.
After many conversations with American students, I realized most want to study abroad, but believe they don’t have the means to do so. I always thought the U.S. offered extensive academic support for its stu- dents. Many students are members of sports teams or student associations. Therefore, I thought American students with a good academic record wouldn’t have a problem traveling abroad if they wanted to. Apparently, I was wrong. It seems even though the country offers an extensive amount of exchange programs, most students still find these are out of their reach.
Chelsie Nestler, a transfer student from a community college, said she’d like to travel abroad in Ireland or Australia. However, even though her major requires her to study abroad, she is afraid doing so will cause her to fall behind academically. She is also concerned about the cost of studying abroad. Another transfer student, Brandie Rodriguez, is also concerned about money. She would like to study abroad some- where in Europe. When I asked her about scholarships, she replied, “If you don’t fall into a certain category, you can’t apply. Middle class families aren’t able to get much support.”
It should be the U.S.’s priority to help young adults extend their horizons and experience the world across the ocean.
One more thing that surprised me: the fear of falling behind or not having a semester available in which to go abroad. Of course, the application process takes time. I have done it, so I speak from experience. In the U.S., once a student chooses a major, he or she must take the classes assigned with lit- tle freedom to explore different classes. A clear path is set for students from registration to graduation. Is it possible all the rules make the students unprepared for the time when they have to come up with their own decisions? I worry individuals are scared of failure or of pressure and thus decide not to try at all. The challenges U.S. students face when preparing to study abroad must be dealt with. Obviously, individuals can’t easily resolve the problem if they can’t afford the experience.
I urge San Diego State students to visit the International Students Center website. In the section “Education Abroad – Scholarships,” there is a long list of financial aid offered.
Additionally, I would advise schools to reconsider the way they prepare students for life in the real world.
Not only does studying in a different country help students with personal development, it provides the opportunity to experience new cultures and meet new people. Students also learn to be independent, which is vital in order to succeed in the future. There will always be obstacles in our lives. We just need to learn how to overcome there.