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What Students are Saying About Study Abroad

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Dyvina B. > Sevilla, Spain > Political Science Major

Why study abroad?

Studying abroad provided me an opportunity to learn. It provided me a chance to travel. It gave me new perspectives on life. Connections and networks, I would never have if I never went abroad.

What was learned through the experience?

There was so much to learn every day. By studying abroad, you completely change everything you know. You no longer know the fastest way to get to class or how to read the street signs. You must adapt, change, and learn fast! It's like moving to a new city on steroids. You are completely out of your comfort zone. Just going for a walk, finding ways to get a around is a learning experience. So, on a day to day basis learning a language, where your new favorite restaurant is, and new favorite food that you never tried before hit you fast. While your overseas you continue to try new things, meet new people and push yourself to extreme. You are getting out and meeting new people, trying to speak their language is challenging. But being able to learn about a new culture/ country and just embracing every aspect of it; It's something you can't get in the comfort of your own zip code. And no matter how many times you do it, you will learn something new every day.

What did you get out of it?

One of my biggest goals is to travel as much as I can in this lifetime. In three months, I was able to go to two continents, seven countries, and 22 cities. To be able to see that much of world in a short period of time was something I always dreamed of and studying abroad made my goal a reality.

Angelos C. > Osaka, Japan > Asian Studies Major

Why study abroad?

Studying abroad is the best thing you can do as a student. You learn so much about yourself and another culture while connecting with so many different people.

What was learned through the experience?

I learned that I'm able to be more independent than I thought! I was also able to discover more about myself and be myself since I wasn't living at home. I also was able to learn about the Japanese LGBT community!

What did you get out of it?

I got many precious friends, memories, and was able to find love as well!

Lauren D. > Ferrara, Italy > Meknes, Morocco > International Studies Major

Why study abroad?

Study abroad allows students the opportunity to explore and engage the world in a way that has been previously inaccessible for students like myself.

What was learned through the experience?

Through study abroad I developed an understanding of different perspectives. I learned the importance of understanding different perspectives in the societal telling of a group of people or culture. During my time in Morocco and Italy I learned the link between culture and religion in the lives of ordinary people. I also learned the importance of language in how we see the world and communicate. As a result, I have become a more conscious communicator.

What did you get out of it?

I gained a greater appreciation for the variety of cultures and lifestyles that exist throughout the world. I also gained a deeper appreciation and understanding of the varying factors that have led to my cultural identity as both a black woman and an American. I have lived in a fairly homogeneous society and never felt a reason to develop a deeper understanding of my identity. Studying and living abroad forced me to analyze myself. After my time abroad, my curiosity and desire to experience and learn more partially led me to apply and enter the Peace Corps in 2018.

Kevin M. > Tours, France > French Major

Why study abroad?

When you live in one place, you are only exposed to one way of thinking and living. You never question why certain social interactions are carried the way that they are, or whether certain global issues are important or not. There is a degree of complacency with how society works in one's own country. Studying abroad, however, is the best way to do away with any preconceived notions of how society should work. It affords the student the opportunity to enrich their lives by being in constant contact with people that may look, think and behave differently than they do. That could come in the shape of living with a host family or in a student housing with other students from different parts of the world. Being exposed to other human experiences helps the student broaden their way of thinking, and gain a new sense of empathy and compassion for people who are different. Studying abroad is a life changing experience. The only down side of it is that you may not want to return home. Unless, you plan on taking another study abroad semester. Something that might delight the study abroad department.

What was learned through the experience?

During my semester abroad in France, I learned more about the culture I spent years studying, but also about myself as a person. I learned that I can adapt to different social situations when I am in an unfamiliar environment. Living with my host family in France, helped me develop patience and understanding of people who may think differently than I do about world issues like immigration. Traveling alone or organizing a trip around a foreign country and away from the city I grew accustomed to seemed daunting at first, but the experiences I had because of that are forever invaluable. It takes a lot of courage to leave the comfort zone you created in a foreign land after all. I also learned that desserts are my favorite way of ending a meal. Actually, not so much as "learned" as reaffirming my love for pastries and sweets.

What did you get out of it?

I gained many new things through studying abroad, but only two stand out to me. Life-long friends from all over the world, and a new sense of independence. The friends I made during this experience have enriched my perspective in life. Even with the technology we have available, staying in contact is hard with the differences in time zones and life events. However, sharing experiences and memories with other people is what keeps the connection alive. As for the newfound independence, there have been many times where I did things I did not think I was capable of. Traveling outside of the city I grew accustomed to, procuring day to day essentials, managing my finances responsibly, and purchasing a cellular service and a transportation pass. Those were things I had to figure out on my own, and because of those experiences I grew as an adult and as a person. Studying abroad gave me the confidence of knowing that I am capable of anything if I just try.

Michael T. > Seoul, South Korea > Communication Major

Why study abroad?

For years I have always wanted to study abroad and was always asked "why?" whenever I told people about my plans to. I have always told people that I wanted to study abroad because I wanted to experience a culture that I could not fully experience in the states. You get exposed to a whole new culture that can be the opposite of the country you grew up in and you are able to learn and grow from that exposure. Studying abroad enables you to experience life on your own and teaches you how to be an independent person, adult, student, etc. You're in a new country, a new culture, a new life, by yourself which means you must learn how to live in that new world without any help or little guidance. You learn about yourself and how you function being alone and navigating the world.

What was learned through the experience?

I learned that I can navigate this scary world alone and not feel the need to call someone or ask anyone for help. I learned how to be alone and to find myself in a new culture and use that knowledge for when I graduate and have to be on my own. I also learned not to hold back and to say "yes!" to more opportunities; whether that is trying food, listening to new music, going to scary or crazy places, or even just leaving your dorm or house. Saying "yes" helped me to make new friends and new experiences that I would have never made if I just said no and did things that were comfortable and familiar. Another lesson learned was how to respect and understand how another society works and operates. What might be considered okay or great in your home country can be considered horrible or weird in your exchange country.

What did you get out of it?

There are so many things I got from studying abroad. I used to cringe when people I know said they got "An experience of a lifetime" but I honestly agree with them now. It is an experience that so amazing and unique that nothing can compare to it. I went home with so much knowledge about the world and about other people. I also went home with the friendships of some of the best people I have ever met as well as some of the best memories I have ever created. I learned to be more independent than I already was and found out that I can rely on myself more than I thought I could before. I also went home with luggage over the weight limit which means a lot of new clothes and skincare products.

Maria G. > Colchester, United Kingdom > Management Major

Why study abroad?

Doing Study Abroad program was always my dream. I moved to USA from Russia and by the time I was able to attend college here I was much older compare to most students. I always wanted to experience the life in dorms full of students from different countries. It was one of the most amazing things I have done!

What you learned through the experience?

I learned how to be more outgoing and introduce myself first to people. I learned a lot about different cultures, since the university I attended had students from all the world. The biggest thing I learned for sure is how to be budget my money!

What did you get out of it?

I gained experience that will be useful and memorable to me for the rest of my life, new friends, and great stories!

Carol K. > Buenos Aires, Argentina > Psychology Major

Why study abroad?

Everyone should study abroad because it teaches you life lessons that a university cannot and it's the best experience in the world.

What you learned through the experience?

I learned that there was so much more to life than what I knew and it taught me to appreciate different cultures and understand life outside of my cultural reference. It made me an opened minded person.

What did you get out of it?

I got more than credits out of it. I got lifelong friendships, life lessons and values out of my study abroad experience. I got to travel most of the South American continent and I got to see breathtaking sights that I cannot put a price on.

Samuel H. > Colchester, United Kingdom > Economics & Finance Major

Why study abroad?

Studying abroad is a great opportunity to travel the world and actually live rather than visit another country! You get to see and experience new cultures and environments that you cannot find in the states.

What you learned through the experience?

I've learned a ton of European history through speaking to natives in various different countries. I learned about cultural norms in France, Spain, UK, Italy and Estonia.

What did you get out of it?

What I got out of my study abroad experience was living out my dream of traveling the world and meeting new people from different countries.

Sydney E. > Leicester, United Kingdom > Communication Major

Why study abroad?

I wanted to see the world, but I had also wanted to study abroad since sophomore year of high school. My neighbors took in an exchange student from São Paulo, Brazil. I thought the idea of going to a different country to experience their culture would be amazing. I also got to see some attractions I'd always dreamed to see: the parent trap house in Kensington, London; Trevi Fountain; St. Peter's Basilica (where my parents were married); and Oia, Santorini (where parts of sisterhood of the traveling pants 1+2) were filmed.

What was learned through this experience?

Studying abroad made me learn that things go wrong, no matter how many times something has occurred. Budgeting in a different country with a different currency was very hard and straining. It taught me how to be independent, more so than I ever could have done in America. You learn how to travel around the world by yourself but also how to get through a difficult situation when things don't go your way with traveling. One last thing that I learned is to take every moment and experience for what it's worth. I'm so happy I made the memories I did. And that I was able to capture the fun, and the crazy. But also to find some fun in the stressful parts of finals.

What did you get out it?

A bigger want and need to see the world. Some amazing friends, that even though we are hundreds maybe thousands of miles away I know we will always be friends. I also have people to visit when I want to see more of the world. I also got a better understanding of different parts of the world. It helped me mature more being on a different continent compared to my family.

Lydia I. > Shanghai, China > International Business Major

Why study abroad?

I believe everyone should try to study abroad or at least go abroad. It provides so many new experiences and the gift of seeing the world from another perspective.

What was learned through the experience?

I learned to be more independent, different perspectives and cultures, and how to adapt to a completely different environment.

What did you get out of it?

I got many new friends and memories that I will always remember and cherish.

Sonia W. > Cuba, Poland, Ireland, & Iceland > Geography Major

Why study abroad?

One of the main reasons why I studied abroad was because of my interest in other cultures and how they interact geographically, politically, socially, agriculturally and so on. With my intended major being geography and soon after being a double major in International Studies, looking into colleges senior year I knew that the huge aspect of my decision making process was which school had the best study abroad opportunities. Old Dominion University offered a vast array of programs from semester long programs to spring break educational trips and even summer abroad options. I have in fact now studied abroad multiple times (4) and have enjoyed each single experience for its ability to open my mind to different perspective and also get to experience a glimpse these spatial interactions that I was initially interested in observing.

What was learned through the experience?

One of the biggest lessons that I learned throughout these multiple study abroad programs that I participated in is that being easy-going and open to trying something new will always be something that you'll never regret. I've met so many new people of different cultures and have gotten to do things that would not have been possible without have taking the initiative to seek out the study abroad office at ODU.

What did you get out of it?

I have gotten to meet multiple people at my university and students abroad throughout my travels in my college career. I've also become good friends with my professors who have led some of the faculty lead trips. But I think the greatest thing that I've gotten out of Study abroad is a greater understanding of world affairs and how in order to solve some of the major issues and threats that we face as citizens of the world we must take an active step in understanding the cultures and people that represent this world. Being a typical American studying abroad you're often faced with a lot of questions about the current political situation in the country but to act as a bridge rather than a wall in communicating with others I found that I had a lot more in common with others than I initially anticipated

This was a 'life-changing' experience because I learned so much and met so many nice people from around the world. Everything about Korea was great, especially the food, people, and landscape. I am very thankful that I was able to study abroad in Korea. Thank you!

- Marlene B., studied for a semester at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea

My study abroad in France was the most amazing experience of my life! I learned so much, saw so many places, and met so many people from around the world. What a growing experience!

- Dan D., summer program at the Institut Touraine in Tours, France

Traveling abroad was an eye-opening experience. I never thought life could be so different from how I always knew it. I benefitted from getting involved in the Irish way of life, by observing people at work and a play.

- Pamela R., Human Services faculty-led summer program in Ireland

I got to experience a new culture, meet many new friends, see new places. No books could replace the education I got going abroad. Students should be aware that study abroad is possible and realistic, not some distant thing you always hear about.

- Brad F., Marketing major who studied abroad for a semester in Australia

Using my French skills and learning about the culture first-hand was the greatest benefit. Staying with a family is one of the best ways to experience the culture.

- Theresa B., International Studies major, summer program at the Institut Touraine in Tours, France

Everyone I met was so friendly - students and professors. They really wanted me to have a good experience.

- Aimee A., Psychology major, semester in England