Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Opportunities Abroad: The Decision That May Change Your Life

Frostburg was home to a brisk day on the mountain today, as representatives from multiple study abroad programs were present in the Atkinson Room at Lane University.  The Bobcats were out in force looking for information about educational opportunities outside of the country at the Spring Study Abroad and International Fair to present overseas opportunities, as well as showcase the experiences of Frostburg’s own students who are, and have studied abroad.
            For those who don’t know, studying abroad is a great experience that is almost universally endorsed. First and foremost, it can and very possibly will change your life in a number of ways. By simply taking you across the ocean, being in a different place, with different people, and different customs forces you to change, and with the opportunity so readily offered here at Frostburg State, why not take it?
            Justin Lee, one of the representatives from AIFS, responded similarly. A former foreign exchange student himself, he was happy to share exactly why he feels studying abroad is important. “It’s important to have that cultural understanding in today’s global economy” he says looking at a group of entering students. Handing out pamphlets, he explains the ins and outs of studying abroad with AIFS, making sure anyone who wants to know understands that studying abroad isn’t nearly as daunting as it seems.
            Kerry Geffert, a representative from CEA watched from his table patiently waiting to share similar information. With pencils, pamphlets, and sunglasses scattered across, Geffert proceeded to share all he could regarding studying abroad. “Affiliated programs cover full schedules,” he said sternly. Mr. Geffert focused on dispelling any rumors against studying abroad students may have as well as saying where they can go with CEA. “Our largest program is Spain” he says to a smiling crowd. He ended his presentation urging students to “Get outside your comfort zone, learn about new cultures. It’s more than just academics and business, it’s an amazing personal growth opportunity that’s not necessary, but very important.”
            3 foreign exchange students from France also gave testimony to the wonders of travelling abroad for school. Alban, and Alexandre are from Western France, while Florent is from the North.  The three of them were all too happy to explain their experiences studying abroad in America, as well as how our schools compare to theirs. “Our diploma is European, when you graduate, yours is an international diploma,” Florent said before continuing, “it will be honored anywhere.” Alexandre quickly chimed in “Open yourself, you start to learn and understand different things.” Getting back to studying abroad, and the differences between European and American schools, Alexandre explained that in college “From the beginning, you must create connections and internships.” Emphasizing the lack of encouragement from their schools back home, the 3 of them explained that we need to embrace the faculty’s attempts to help us out much more.

            With so much information at the fair, Frostburg needs to spread the word, and get more students to explore studying in the international community.

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