You’ll get more than just an education

At legendary point break in New Zealand, when conditions are right at this break, surfers can get rides in excess of a mile. Peter Hoffman

By Erin Kelley

For a lot of students, college means studying somewhere within a couple hundred miles of where they grew up. But for others, it can mean studying in another country.

For those looking for an experience overseas, the University’s Study Abroad Office is a good place to go.

“Study abroad is one of the ways in which our students and others build and benefit from Illinois’ international engagement,” according to the mission statement of the Study Abroad Office.

The office’s purpose, according to its staff, is to help students understand the world and different cultures as well as give students personal experiences they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

“The purpose of it all is to produce graduates, of this and other institutions, who can take all of good elements of what they’ve grown up with and take all of the good things they’ve seen (abroad) and merge them,” said Jeremy Geller, director of the Study Abroad Office.

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Geller said that the United States is only one of nearly 200 countries in the world and the experiences of living abroad as a student allows students to become exposed to different social interactions, political systems, cuisine and resources.

“The American point of view is not the right point of view nor is it the wrong point of view – it’s just the American point of view,” Geller said.

“In a nutshell, we want students to be exposed to other points of view beyond the local one.”

The student benefits from being abroad by gaining a broader idea of how their town, state and country fits in with the rest of the world, but parents and professors also notice a positive change within students.

Many parents say they send off their child and welcome back a well-educated adult because of the logistical, linguistic and dietary challenges students have had to find solutions to on their own.

Erika Ryser, associate director of the Study Abroad Office, said studying abroad teaches students how to better interact with people from different backgrounds.

She said they learn how to adapt to a host culture by examining their behavior and assumptions as well as change some of their habits to create long-lasting relationships with others.

If considering traveling the world while in college, the best time to start thinking about it is during your senior year in high school, Geller said.

Students can get a head start by visiting the study abroad Web site to find out when the First Steps meetings will take place.

These meetings help prepare students for all the things they should think about while applying and preparing to go abroad, resources they can use-essentially, they help students get off on the right foot so that nothing is sprung on them.

Geller also advised students to stop by the study abroad office once on campus so they can familiarize themselves with the building and the resources available, as well as attending the Study Abroad Fair and signing up on the office’s electronic mailing list.

Michael Wesolowski, senior in LAS, was one of 751 students that chose to study abroad this summer, Ryser said. Wesolowski studied in Vienna this summer.

“I’ve heard so many good things about it,” he said. “I thought now would be a good time to (study abroad) before I graduate.”

  • Most popular countries to study abroad in

  • ?Spain
  • ?United Kingdom
  • ?Italy
  • ?France
  • ?Australia
  • ?Latin America

    Important dates to know

    • Sept. 6: Study Abroad Fair at the Illini Union
    • Oct. 1: Deadline for spring semester study abroad
    • Dec. 15: Early Bird deadline for fall/summer/academic year semester study abroad
    • Feb. 15: Deadline for fall/summer/academic year study abroad
    • June 1 – Early Bird deadline for spring semester