My Kid’s Studying Abroad and I’m Not Sure What to Think

My Kid’s Studying Abroad and I’m Not Sure What to Think

by Shelley Emling via “Huffington Post

For the past year and a half, my oldest child has been studying at a university in Amsterdam. He’s majoring in physics and — if all goes according to plan — he should be earning his bachelor’s degree in 2017. He comes home summers and over Christmas and I visit him there at least twice a year. So far, so good. But on the heels of this morning’s news of terrorist attacks in Belgium, he said something that rocked me to my core: “It seems as though the bombings are getting closer.”

Only last November, terrorist attacks in Paris — 316 miles from Amsterdam — killed 129 people. One of those killed was a 23-year-old California State Long Beach student, Nohemi Gonzalez, who had gone to Paris for a semester of study at the Strate School of Design. Not only did her death horrify her classmates, but it also made many parents of study-abroad students wonder whether kids should still be taking college classes overseas.

Now it’s Brussels — 108 miles from Amsterdam — that’s under attack, with at least 34 people killed and many more injured today in blasts at the airport and a subway station. Only a few days ago, the suspected mastermind behind the Paris attacks was arrested.

Upon hearing of the attack, I immediately messaged my son in Amsterdam on Facebook. Although he’s alarmed — and has commented that the attacks are indeed too close for comfort — he’s not going anywhere. He’ll continue living his life and attending classes this week, just as he has been. He noted his certainty that his professors will discuss the issue today with students, just as they did in the days following the Paris attacks.

But this latest incident has given me pause, and when friends ask me what I think about whether American students should continue studying abroad, I’m no longer sure exactly what to tell them.

My husband and I raised our three kids in London, and lived there for seven years before moving to the States in 2000. I’ve long been a proponent of kids studying abroad, and even wrote an article a few months back about the advantages of getting a degree overseas. At the time, I asserted that the advantages to earning a degree abroad are many, but one of the main ones is the money saved by students and families. Many programs in Europe offer bachelor’s degrees after only three years, and often at a fraction of the price charged by U.S. institutions.

Currently, more than 46,500 U.S. students are pursuing degrees overseas, roughly 84 percent of whom are enrolled in bachelor’s or master’s degree programs, according to the most recent data from the Institute of International Education. The United Kingdom is the most popular destination, followed by Canada, France and Germany. . .

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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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“More US Students Need to Study Abroad, Says Higher Ed Group”

“More US Students Need to Study Abroad, Says Higher Ed Group”

by Ira Mellman via “VOA News

By a 3-to-1 margin, international students studying in the United States versus U.S. students studying abroad.  That imbalance, according to an organization that fosters student exchanges, threatens American students from developing global awareness.

In announcing it “Generation Study Abroad” initiative this week, the New York-based Institute of International Education (IIE)  hopes to double the number of U.S. students studying abroad in the next five years.

Comparing the more than 800,000 international students in the United States with the approximately 283,000 Americans studying abroad, the IIIE’s Daniel Obst calls the difference “a fairly large trade imbalance.” Obst, the IIE’s Deputy Vice President for International Partnerships, said less than 10-percent of U.S. students choose foreign study.  

          Top Destinations for U.S. Study Abroad, 2011-12
  Rank   Destination      2011-12
Total
   2011-12
% of Total
% Change from
2010-11
  World total     283,332      100.0          3.4
    1 UK       34,660        12.2          4.5
    2 Italy       29,645        10.5         -2.4
    3 Spain       26,480          9.3          2.0
    4 France       17,168          6.1          0.9
    5 China       14,887          5.3          2.0
    6 Germany        9,370          3.3          3.9
    7 Australia        9,324          3.3         -4.2
    8 Costa Rica        7,900          2.8          9.3
    9 Ireland        7,640          2.7          9.0
   10 Japan       5,283          1.9        27.8

 Open Doors report on International Education Exchange
 Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/opendoors

There are many reasons for the lower number of Americans going abroad to study.  But Obst says among the most common fears revolve around costs, concerns that foreign curricula won’t fit their academic needs, and the notion that studying abroad is a waste of time. “In many cases, those are myths, so our campaign seeks to dispel some of those myths,” said Obst.

To reach its goal, IIE’s “Generation Study Abroad” will focus on . . . .”