Last month my husband and I traveled to Paris to see the sights and visit our son Ryan who is studying there for the semester. I knew it was going to be a great trip. After all, it’s Paris! But most of all, I was looking forward to seeing Ryan and hearing about his Parisian experiences.
During high school, Ryan participated in a weeklong exchange to France and got the bug to study abroad in college. After looking at many study abroad options in various locations and different durations, Ryan ultimately chose to participate in Hamilton College’s Study in France Program. He is having a total immersion experience, where he takes classes taught in French and lives with a French family. Students in this program are required to sign a pledge to speak only in French at the homestay and within the confines of the university. This pledge is one thing that distinguishes Hamilton’s Study in France Program from many others.
Students today have many study abroad program options. Colleges and universities offer students the chance to study abroad for a full year, a semester, and/or during school breaks. Students can select to study in hundreds of cities and travel to all seven continents – yes there are even programs that include travel to Antarctica!
All students, particularly those studying engineering, science and architecture, are advised to work closely with their academic advisors when selecting an abroad program, to ensure they stay on track for graduation. As stated in a recent USA Today article, it is important for students to investigate whether the program offers courses that will fulfill their graduation requirements. Often colleges and universities offer opportunities that are geared towards particular majors, so that students can fulfill requirements in their majors abroad.
There are some majors where students are strongly advised and encouraged to study abroad, in order to gain firsthand experiences and knowledge in their areas of study. Students majoring in foreign languages, architecture, and art history are a few examples of disciplines where the location and surroundings enrich classroom learning. Syracuse University offers its advanced-level architecture students, and students who are enrolled in other accredited architecture programs, the opportunities to study abroad at its University programs in Florence and London.
Studying abroad is expensive, however, in most cases financial aid may be applied. Students and families are advised to speak with the financial aid office at their college or university to review the institution’s financial aid study abroad policy before committing to a program. When selecting a study abroad program, students should closely investigate the anticipated expenses not covered by the program: daily transportation, some meals, and leisure travel.
Today’s college students can choose from many unique study abroad programs that span the globe. Studying abroad can be a wonderful, mind-broadening opportunity. I must admit that I was amazed by my son’s proficiency in French and his ability to navigate a new city in just a few weeks. Safe travels to all the college students exploring the globe today and in the days to come!
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