Choose your adventure

By Kate Tasseff, [email protected]

Point to a country on a globe, and chances are the Study Abroad department can get you there. So what are you waiting for?

At the Study Abroad Fair last Thursday, UA students displayed the different destinations and programs available, and were quick to answer any fears or hesitations that inquiring students had.

Attendees could browse four different kinds of programs that UA offers: exchange programs, faculty-led programs, student-led programs, and 3rd party affiliate programs.

Most students said that exchange programs are the easiest to join, since those universities abroad are already linked with UA. In almost every case, the credits earned abroad will directly translate to credits at UA. Exchange programs are also the only way students can pay for tuition with their UA scholarships.

There are currently exchange programs with universities in France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and Peru.

The Peruvian school, Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (USIL), is located in the capital of Lima. Jose Ruiz is an exchange student from USIL who is studying in Akron after having met a UA student who came to his school to study.

He likes the USIL program because they often set up students with a host family, giving a firsthand experience with the culture.

For those interested in going to Peru, Ruiz recommends going in the fall semester. “In the fall, there is a big food festival in Lima, and, as you know, Peru is famous for its food.”

There are also faculty-led programs, such as the one at the Université du Maine in Le Mans, France, where junior Nicole Wiswesser studied.

“We worked with two faculty members from [UA] and two from the [the Université du Maine], and we spent six weeks there, living in the dorms, and taking classes with both American students and French students,” she said.

The classes are taught in English, so knowing French is not required.

But Wiswesser, who is studying French in Akron, said that you need to step out of your comfort zone if you want to improve your language skills.

“When [the French students] hear you trying to speak French with them, [they] will automatically switch to English,” she said. “So you have to specifically ask: ‘Can we speak in French?”

Student-led programs give UA students a chance to show other students a country or culture from their own perspective.

Senior Emily Salopeck will be leading one such trip around Sorrento, Italy in summer 2017, in connection with the Sant’anna Institute. She has studied there previously, and is excited to show other students the beautiful sights and rich history of Italy. If you want to find out more about this trip, email Emily at [email protected].

Other student-led trips are opportunities for service, such as the ones planned for Haiti (Jan. 7 to 14) and Jamaica (March 25 to April 1). Both places were heavily affected by Hurricane Matthew, and these one-week trips will be spent restoring damaged areas and serving those who live there. Email [email protected] to find out how to sign up.

Holly Reed said her experience on a previous trip to Jamaica opened her eyes to many things she took for granted about life in America. But aiding and caring for those who had lost so much was something she will never forget.

“After coming home, I realized that I’m only 20 years old; but I was able to make a difference,” Reed said.

Choices are by no means limited to exchange programs, or those supervised by UA faculty or students; third party affiliates, listed on the Study Abroad page, will take you just about anywhere in the world.

Political science major Amber Knepper wanted to study abroad in South Korea. She found a program through third-party provider The Education Abroad Network (TEAN).

“It really wasn’t difficult to arrange the trip. [Assistant Director of Study Abroad] David Black was so helpful; the entire Study Abroad department was, really,” she said.

At the end of the day, your study abroad experience is limited only by your imagination. Stop by Simmons 301 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to meet with the Study Abroad staff and start making your adventure a reality.