Studying abroad, a bigger picture

In regards to last week’s column “Think twice about studying abroad,” I fully agree with the author’s final point. Students should look at different study abroad programs with a critical eye. Every program offers a difference experience, so it’s important to evaluate the classes, living situations and language barriers of each.

However, I don’t agree with the assertion that students do not take the time to think about what programs are best for them. I am currently studying abroad, and the semester before I left, I had to do a lot of planning for this experience.

It would be very difficult to study in another country without help from the student’s advisor, Butler’s study-abroad office or another resource. Studying abroad is a big decision, and because so much goes into making it, students have no choice but to understand each program. Applying for a program “without looking at the facts” is very unlikely.

This column seems to paint a negative portrait of studying abroad and the programs Butler offers. Yes, these details are important to worry about. However, the “bigger picture” of studying abroad is simply seeing the world. I have loved my study abroad experience so far simply because I have seen the different ways people live and think in foreign countries.

Obviously, studying is important. But I would argue the student’s attitude toward traveling is more important. Whether the program lasts three weeks or three months, there is something to be gained if the student is simply willing to open his or her eyes and heart to another culture.

This column pointed out a few characteristics of some Butler programs and criticized students who do not prepare, but it would be better to encourage students to follow their dreams. There is always someone who is willing to help students figure out their study abroad experiences.

At the end of the day, even if students are not in the right program for them, they will have learned something about themselves. Self-reflection and personal growth are critical to any successful study abroad experience; the rest of it is just details.

 

Maggie Monson

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