Oh, The Places You'll Go!
Many incoming students worry about whether they will ever get the chance to study abroad. Much of that concern can stem from financial insecurity, a tough course load, or even anxiety about visiting another part of the world. At the University of Arizona, the sky is literally the limit on study abroad opportunities. There is an entire office dedicated to helping students figure out when to study abroad, how to make the most of their experiences abroad, and how to pay for it all! Personally, I have participated in three separate study abroad programs throughout my time at the UA.
The summer after my first year, I participated in a group seminar in China with the Flinn Scholars program. During this trip, I was able to bond with my class and truly immerse myself in a culture different from my own. We toured Beijing and a smaller city, Anshūn, and also had the wonderful opportunity to stay with a host family in a rural village in Guizhou province. All of the students on the trip were enrolled in 1 unit of credit for an Anthropology course titled “Sustainability in China” and we attended classes throughout the 3-week long program. Though short, the China trip was an amazing experience for me and my first time out of North America. The flights were long and memorable, but nothing compared to the people I met and the lessons I learned while there.
That first trip got me excited about studying abroad in the future and learning more about the world. During the winter recess of 2016, I went on a clinical shadowing fellowship with the Atlantis Project in Almansa, Spain. While there I was able to shadow multiple physicians in the city’s general hospital. I did not know anyone on the trip before I left Tucson, but I was able to become good friends with the other students while we toured the hospital and the Spanish countryside together. While I was anxious to embark on this journey alone, I found comfort in knowing that the other students on the trip were doing the same and that made it easier to connect with them. I was able to pay for this trip through donations from family and friends and scholarships from organizations around Tucson. I worked closely with the Office of Study Abroad and Student Exchange (SASE) to identify scholarships that I would be able to use towards the program.
Finally, this past Summer I was lucky enough to go on yet another trip – this time to London, England and Leiden, South Holland in the Netherlands. This trip, the Advanced Honors Trip, is a sanction for 20 University of Arizona students to travel to particular destinations in Europe with a faculty member while taking up to 6 units of Honors credit. Like the other study abroad experiences I have had, this most recent trip to Europe was eye-opening and I truly did learn a lot. We studied the works of Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare while in London and learned about global warming and rising water levels from the perspective of those in the Netherlands, where about one-third of the country sits below sea level.
All in all, study abroad is a great way to meet other students, engage with the culture of another country, and take fun classes or augment your course load. The Office of Study Abroad and Student Exchange is phenomenal and truly wants to help as many students embark on these trips as possible. My advice for incoming students looking to take advantage of study abroad is to start early. Make sure to meet with a representative from SASE to talk about the kinds of programs you are interested in. They can help you find scholarships to pay for the programs as well as internships abroad that might fit into your schedule better. Don’t limit yourself! Check out the Global Initiatives website now: https://global.arizona.edu/study-abroad
Best of luck to you all! And Beaaaaar Dowwwn!