Study Abroad: You Must Do It!!!
by Stacey Linehan
We strongly encourage you to study abroad!!! We did it!! So Should You!!!
San Jose, Costa Rica, Spring 2011
Senior Journalism Major
Studying abroad was a choice I made in October of 2010 without even knowing where I wanted to go or what I wanted to study. I flipped through some catalogs and went to the study abroad office here at UMass and was very pleased when five months later I ended up on a plane heading to Costa Rica all by myself. Traveling there opened my eyes to many cultural differences and helped me shape my perception of things in a way I know I would not have had I stayed here at UMass. I was weary of studying abroad for financial reasons but the IPO office provided me with plenty of information on scholarships and explained to me that my financial aid would transfer over.
I lived with a warm and loving family there who taught me a lot about the culture and cooked me delicious meals. While in Costa Rica I was able to travel to many parts of Central America, including Nicaragua and Panama. I had never imagined myself capable of doing the things I was doing. I was starting to speak a whole new language and making friends with people who didn’t even know English. I was jumping off 40 foot waterfalls, sleeping nights in hammocks in hostels rated top ten in the world, snorkeling in gorgeous waters, ATVing through cloud forests, zip-lining between mountains, hiking volcanoes, and dolphin watching from speed boats. My teachers were so kind and helpful and I still remain in contact with a few of them, practicing my Spanish via e-mail and Skype.
For anyone contemplating whether or not to go abroad, my suggestion to you is, JUST DO IT! Take advantage of announcements from the Center for Advancement and Student Success (CMASS) especially when it offers an info session on study abroad with the International Program here at UMASS. Make a visit to the university’s IPO office and start planning. It will be a decision you will not regret. Studying abroad teaches you what the classroom cannot and you will grow immensely from the experience.
Here are some feedbacks from other peers who have gone abroad to study. We hope students would be inspired to explore a foreign shore to compliment their college experience.
Sydney, Australia, Spring 2011
Senior Psychology Major
I was a part of the CAPA internship program. In my freshmen year at UMASS, a returning UMass CAPA student came to one of my classes and talked about his amazing experience while studying abroad. I knew then that this was the program for me.
I chose to go to Sydney, Australia. Throughout the semester I took three classes at the Australian Catholic University and worked at the University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Research Institute. Every day on my way to class or work I passed by the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. We lived in serviced apartments ten minutes outside of downtown Sydney.
It was an everyday occurrence to meet up with friends down at Darling Harbour, take the ferry to Manly Beach, and go out to local restaurants. During my time in Australia travel was a huge privilege we had. We went to Melbourne, the twelve Apostles, the Hunter Valley, Port Stephens, and Cairns.
My spring break was the most memorable time there. I spent ten days hiking in the rainforest, swimming in waterfalls, snorkeling, and scuba diving and cruising in the Great Barrier Reef. I ended my time in Sydney by climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge at night. Standing over 400 feet above the city lights, Darling Harbour, the Opera House and the Botanical Gardens was the perfect way to finish my time there. I can't wait to go back.
Granada, Spain, Spring 2011
Senior Philosophy Major
It was by far the greatest experience of my life. Not only was it nice to live in a different country where I was able to hang out every day, Spain opened my eyes to a world completely different from my own. Now that I am back in the states all I want to do is go back and the only thing I regret is not studying abroad for a year like other people I met had done. Study abroad advisors always warn about a culture shock but to me going to Spain was the no shock but a cultural enlightenment. I fell in love with everything about Spain. I studied with International Studies Abroad program which was directly connected to UMass so it was relatively easy to get everything straightened out.
If I could give one piece of advice to all students it would be to go abroad. If I could give two pieces of advice to all students it would be go abroad to Granada. It is the perfect mixture of a large city, small town, beach town and ski town all in one. From any point in the city you can see the breath taking snow-capped mountain range of the Sierra Nevada’s. While in Europe I was able to go to various places in Spain as well as Portugal, Morocco, Italy, France, Netherlands, Ireland and Germany.
My experiences there have changed my life forever. It was a gift to see how different our everyday lives are from those kids who lived in Granada and I would move their any day if I could. The Spanish lifestyle is as stress free and enjoyable as it could be. All the students are active in their politics and society yet have fun every day. As soon as I graduate I hope to move back to Spain and teach English to children hopefully being able to stay there for good. When I made the decision to go abroad I was in a four year relationship and scared but I did it and I have not regretted it once, I still wish I was there for longer. Studying Abroad was the most valuable thing I have ever done.
Lismore, Australia, Spring 2011
Senior Hospitality and Tourism Management Major
Last semester Spring 2011, I was fortunate enough to study abroad on an exchange program through UMass at Southern Cross University in Lismore, NSW, and Australia. The application process for studying abroad was somewhat overwhelming at first but there were deadlines for each portion and advisers at the IPO office that were really helpful. Once the initial application was in, it was only a matter of time and counting down the days until my adventure began.
Since Lismore was a small bush town unlike a city, I was able to see such wildlife as wallabies, koala bears and lizards on my way to class on a daily. In addition to studying I embarked on an excursion to the Northern Territory of Australia aka the Outback for my spring break trip. While on this trip we traveled, camped and hiked through and around mountains, gorges and riverbanks. We were also able to visit the famous Uluru/Ayers Rock and learn about the aboriginal culture.
During my four month stay I visited a friend in Sydney who was also studying abroad. Growing up in a city myself Sydney gave me a little taste of home, reminding me of a mini NYC. Studying abroad and living in such a small remote town, I found myself becoming more in touch with mother nature and really appreciating everything around me.
I was also able to see and understand the major cultural differences even in another English speaking country. I learned a lot from just living with Aussies as well as engaging in a "Perspectives on Australia" elective which helped me to better understand how Australia came to be what it is today. I honestly believe colleges and universities should make studying abroad a graduation requirement. I had a great experience with no regrets and am eager to see what the rest of the world has in store.
Stellenbosch, South Africa, Spring 2011
Senior English Major
STUDY ABROAD! What's the first thought that comes to your mind? For me, I imagined becoming submerged in a culture completely different from my own in America. Luckily, studying for six months in Stellenbosch, South Africa in my junior helped me obtain that. I made lifelong friends, both with South Africans and fellow study abroad students from around the United States.
I took advantage of as many opportunities the country had to offer- from wine tastings to facing the highest bungee jump in the world, to hiking up Table Mountain in the middle of Cape Town. I was also fortunate enough to travel to Zambia to see Victoria Falls, one the seven natural wonders of the world. I have grown intellectually and socially from studying abroad.