A Year Abroad: A Commitment Worth Making
“Studying abroad for a whole year may seem like a big-time commitment,” according to IU senior Andy Heap, “but nobody ever comes back wishing they had spent less time overseas.” Heap, an English and Criminal Justice double-major who studied at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, is one of the many Indiana University students to spend an academic year in a foreign country.
In the experience of IU’s Office of Overseas Study, students that have returned from a semester or summer abroad frequently express regret over not planning to stay for a whole year. Todd Karr, Senior Study Abroad Advisor, states that “just as students are getting ready to return to the U.S. they start to get comfortable in this other culture and gain confidence in their ability to navigate in their new surroundings, not to mention the rewarding cross-cultural relationships that are blossoming.”
A recent study by the Institute for the International Education of Students shows that the benefits of study abroad are magnified the longer the stay. The benefits uncovered in the study range from maturity and self-understanding to an increased commitment to school and a focused career path.
IU currently administers year-long study abroad programs in six locations, including Canterbury. The other programs, at universities in Madrid, Spain, Freiburg, Germany, Aix-en-Provence, France, Bologna, Italy, and Nagoya, Japan, are geared toward students that have advanced language-skills. These universities offer advanced language classes as well as the opportunity for students to study other subjects, such as history, political science, and economics, in the respective language.
Many IU students who study abroad for a year also experience a financial upside. The cost of an IU administered academic year program can be comparable to a year on the Bloomington campus. And financial aid applies to study abroad, as well as most scholarships.
“Most likely, college is going to be one of the only chances you get to live and immerse yourself in a foreign culture for a significant amount of time,” states Heap, “Take advantage of it!”
Originally published in CampusLink, IU Parent's Association newsletter, Spring 2007