Grace Carney, Contributing Writer
On Thursday, October 1, SUNY Oneonta hosted its annual Study Abroad Fair in the Chase Gym. Although studying abroad has been an option for college students for the past several decades, it seems to have peaked in popularity for millennials in recent years.
Through the SUNY system, students can choose between over 70 different countries, which are facilitated through over 600 programs. There is great flexibility in the amount of time students can study abroad also, as you can choose to go for a full year, a single semester, a winter session, or a summer session. Some of the most popular places to study abroad include the U.K., France, Spain, Italy, and Australia. However, don’t let the more frequently chosen destinations prevent you from going where you would most like to study—Singapore, South Africa, Brazil, New Zealand, Turkey, or Sweden are equally as compelling and exceptional countries to explore and study in.
The SUNY system makes the process of enrolling and transferring credits efficient and accessible, as students from any SUNY institution are able to study abroad through any other SUNY school’s program. The cost of studying abroad is roughly equal to the tuition of a semester of college. Housing options range between living in an apartment complex, staying with a host family, or living on a campus, although only a small handful of campuses offer on-campus housing. The best element of studying abroad is being able to immerse yourself into another country’s culture, something that may be entirely different from your own.
Studying abroad also fosters independence and self-reliance, in addition to giving you the opportunities to make friends and network on an international scale. It is not essential to be able to speak fluently in the language of the country you are visiting because many countries teach English as a second language, so the citizens may have had some access to learning how to speak English. If staying with a host family, it is best to be somewhat familiar with basic terms and phrases, so you can do your part in meeting them halfway when it comes to communicating verbally.
Some programs offer courses taught fully in English. Many courses at foreign universities have a tremendous mix of international students, so you will not likely be flying solo as the only American student enrolled in the university.
One of the most fun aspects of studying abroad is the opportunity you have to travel, sightsee, and be the quintessential tourist you always dreaded having to cross paths with as a New York native. Every weekend, you can broaden your horizons and travel to neighboring countries by plane or train. You can sign up for hiking, camping, and other excursions, or simply be a tourist and investigate city life by visiting parks, museums, and cafes. Sightseeing is embedded within the adventure.
In certain countries, depending on your major, you can volunteer in townships, and do work such as teaching children, helping to construct homes for impoverished or unindustrialized communities, and tutoring other students. You can also participate in internships while abroad, working in fields such as education, business, event planning, or athletics.
Many students come back from studying abroad having loved their experience and are eager for their next chance to travel outside of the U.S. Studying abroad stands out as a positive factor on any recent college graduate’s résumé in addition to allowing you to pick up a new language to a greater extent than you could have by just studying words on paper for a year. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Although traveling to other countries is time consuming and expensive, studying abroad in college has become so common that study abroad programs have adapted to being efficient in answering any questions, concerns, or troubles that might come from their prospective travelers. It’s also easier to travel in college than it is when you are trying to establish a career and pay back student loans. It’s best to utilize the freedom and opportunity of being able to travel, learn, network, and live in another country while you still can.