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Should you study abroad as a freshman?

I studied abroad at the end of freshman year by traveling in Ireland for two weeks that summer with an Irish Literature class. It was honestly one of the best things I have ever done. Going off to college is a big step, but going off to a foreign country is even bigger.  It matures you somehow, forcing you to become more aware of yourself, the people around you, and the responsibilities you face as a student, a citizen, and a member of society.  Even just a couple weeks changed my perspective and altered some of my future college decisions.  **DB

Should you study abroad as a freshman?

by Varsity Tutors via USA TODAY

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Acclimating to college can be a true challenge for first-year students. After all, the average freshman must learn to live more independently – to attend his or her classes and complete difficult schoolwork without outside motivation, as well as adapt to other lifestyle changes. As a result, your first year on campus is typically regarded as a time to settle into the rhythms of college life.

However, it is becoming increasingly common for freshmen to spend their first semester or year studying abroad, hundreds or thousands of miles away from their college campuses.

Should you study abroad as a freshman? Read on to learn about both the benefits and challenges of spending your first year of college overseas.

Benefits

Studying abroad as a freshman can help you develop valuable skills that relate to any course of study. Learning a foreign language is one such benefit. Gaining this and other marketable skills early in your college career can equip you for future academic and career success.

Spending a semester (or longer) abroad also means experiencing a new way of life. By living in another country, you will develop a greater understanding of its people and culture, as well as a better sense of the country’s context in the wider global community. As a freshman, learning more about the world around you can greatly expand your way of thinking and help you analyze problems on a global scale — an ability that can be difficult to master at any age!

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White House enlists travel bloggers to get students to study abroad

White House enlists travel bloggers to get students to study abroad

by Jessica Plautz via “Mashable

White-house

The White House hosted 100 travel bloggers in a summit on Tuesday to sell them on the government’s plan to promote study abroad among U.S. students.

Bloggers who attended the event — called the White House Travel Blogger Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship — were largely on board with this message, which they promoted via social media Thursday, using the hashtag #StudyAbroadBecause.

The National Security Council is leading the effort, and the U.S. State Department will soon open a U.S. Study Abroad Office to support initiatives that will get more college students to take their academic studies to other countries, and return home with valuable language skills and international awareness. There will be an online study-abroad fair on Feb. 25.

The U.S. government also aims to increase study abroad in countries outside of the European Union; 32% of study abroad in 2013 was to the UK, Italy and Spain.

It also wants to increase diversity among students who go abroad; about 62% of U.S. college students are white, but they make up 76% of students who travel abroad.

study-abroad-chart

Chart representing the

IMAGE: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU

Bloggers were warmly welcomed by the government at Tuesday’s summit — a departure from its typical attitude toward members of the media. When it comes to promoting study abroad, it seems that the government sees bloggers as allies.

Senior officials who spoke to attendees on Tuesday included White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, assistant to the president and Michelle Obama’s chief of staff Tina Tchen, commerce secretary Penny Pritzker, deputy national security adviser for strategic communication Ben Rhodes and more. It was a veritable procession of VIPs, thanking attendees for the work they do in promoting travel.

The government is looking to bloggers — who range from journalists adhering to traditional reporting standards to sponsored storytellers — to influence students, hoping that they can reach the ever-elusive millennial demographic.

However, it’s unclear whether travel bloggers can, in fact, influence this group — and whether study broad is even a worthwhile endeavor for American students. . . .”

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Country FAQs: Ireland

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6 Ways To Cut The Costs Of Your Study Abroad Program

“6 Ways To Cut The Costs Of Your Study Abroad Program”

by  Alexa Davis via “Forbes

When recent Cornell University graduate Evan McElwain, 21, interviewed for his current job at a major financial firm, the first topic of discussion wasn’t his expert knowledge of the markets or opinions on quantitative easing. Instead, he delved into stories about backpacking across mainland China and getting trapped in a flood en route to a music festival at the Great Wall.

“[If] every candidate a company is interviewing comes from the same school, took the same classes, got similar grades, had leadership roles in similar clubs ­‑- it really comes down to who the interviewer thinks is the most interesting,” McElwain said. “Traveling does wonders for making people more interesting.”

Study abroad programs are the stock and trade of most top tier four year colleges and for students who choose to enroll in them they can become an edge in the job search. However according to a report from the British Council, a U.K. non-profit that promotes overseas educational programs, the number of American students considering study abroad has slumped 12% from last year.

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Why? Study abroad program inflation. At an average cost of $31,270 per semester, these programs run about double what a semester at private colleges run. In fact, the cost of study abroad was cited as the single largest nonacademic deterrent among students. Abroad fees only get higher when you tack on living expenses like sightseeing, dining and travelling to nearby countries.

Amid rising interest rates on student loans and state spending cuts, it’s understandable why study abroad has taken the back seat to more pressing expenses. Although flying halfway across the world for a semester is definitely not a drop in the bucket, it can be an affordable investment with careful research and planning. Many US students are unfamiliar with the financial realities of foreign study, with only 23% aware of government-sponsored programs – up from 6% in 2013. In addition to these federal scholarships and grants, there are countless other ways to travel on a budget. We’ve outlined the best tips below so you don’t have to sacrifice your experience to save a buck. . . . .

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Israel-Gaza Conflict Impacts American Study Abroad Students

Responses to the question of whether the Study Abroad programs should continue have been diverse . . . Further Resources/Articles on the subject can be found at the following links:

Out of sheer curiosity, what is your opinion?  Should the schools cancel these programs that students have paid for and planned for, and if so, how should the students be reimbursed for the lost time and experience?  Conversely, should the schools be able to assume that students have done their research on the situation and are still interested enough in the program for it to continue?  How do you think the schools should rule in this debate?

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Israel-Gaza Conflict Impacts American Study Abroad Students

by Harmeet Kaur via “USA Today

Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Al Shejaeiya neighbourhood during a military operation in eastern Gaza City, July 22. (Mohammed Saber, epa)

For Rawan Muhanna, the past few weeks were some of the most terrifying times of her life.

A senior studying chemistry at the University of Texas at Dallas, Muhanna just returned last week from a trip to the Gaza Strip. She says she and her family visit Gaza often to spend time with relatives. This time, her family journeyed to the area for her sister’s wedding. Soon after the joyous celebrations, however, Muhanna says she began hearing F-16 missiles being dropped on surrounding homes.

“‘Unsafe’ doesn’t quite capture how we felt,” she says. “The fear brought me to tears, which I’ve never experienced before.”

Although the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas of the world, Muhanna says the streets were empty when the violence began to escalate. She recalls an incident in which her family had to leave their family’s apartment building to buy groceries.

“We’re literally just praying and speeding through empty streets just to get to the grocery store to buy food,” Muhanna says. “That was one time that I genuinely felt like I might not get home.”

Violence between Israel and Gaza-based militant groups, most notably Hamas, escalated this month after three young Israeli students were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank on June 10. On July 2, a Palestinian man was killed in retaliation near Jerusalem.

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Kids Studying Abroad Are Now Never Out of Touch

Kids Studying Abroad Are Now Never Out of Touch

by Beth J. Harpaz via “ABC News”

A generation ago, students on semester abroad were practically incommunicado, aside from airmailed letters and one or two calls home. These days, from the minute the plane lands, kids studying overseas are connected with home via Skype, Facebook, and messaging apps like Viber and WhatsApp.

Has technology altered semester abroad by making it impossible to immerse yourself in another culture? Or does staying in touch simply increase comfort levels, easing both homesickness and parental worries?

Jane Tabachnick of Montclair, New Jersey, remembers airmailing letters to her parents when she studied in Paris for nine months at age 21, long before the cellphone era. “I knew they were worried and that they’d be waiting by the mailbox,” she said. “It seemed like an eternity between letters.”

It was different when Tabachnick’s 21-year-old daughter lived in Russia and Paris as part of her studies at Rutgers University. They often conversed by Skype or GoogleChat. “My daughter is very mature and level-headed and I’m not a big worrier, but I’m a parent, and she’s across the world, and it was just so easy to be in touch,” Tabachnick said.

On the other hand, she said, the less she heard from her daughter the better, and not because she didn’t miss her: “When I hear from her a little less, I know she’s out having fun.”

Robbin Watson was forced to give up screen time with the home crowd when her laptop was damaged during a semester in Italy six years ago, when she was 19.

“I was devastated at first, wondering to myself, ‘How will I know what’s going on at home? How will I Skype my friends?'” she recalled.

But as time went on, her experience in Rome “drastically changed. I began to go out more, no longer running home from class to hop online. I no longer thought about what was going on at college and soon, I began to not even care.”

Looking back, she’s grateful that her laptop was damaged. Her advice for semester abroad: “Get rid of your smartphone. The whole point of studying abroad is to immerse yourself in the culture, the people, the language. Once you have Skype, Facebook and constant calls from parents, I think it really takes away from the experience and becomes a huge distraction.”

Staying in touch is important to Daniele Weiss, 19, a New York University student who spent spring semester in Florence and is now in Israel for the summer. “My mom needs to hear from me every night before I go to sleep,” she said.

From Italy, six hours ahead of her parents, she’d call in the morning before her dad went to work, and then text throughout the day. She said most of her fellow American students also “stayed in contact with everybody from home. It was very comfortable and so easy. It’s not like I felt like I was missing out on the immersion. But I wanted to share things with my mom.” . . . .

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