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Information sessions on studying abroad happen in conjunction with International Education Week

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This week marks the 20th anniversary of International Education Week (IEW), an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. In honor of this week, New College will be hosting a series of events between Nov. 18 and Nov. 21 to discuss the many opportunities students have to study within and outside the U.S. 

Although students may learn about global regions in academic classes, they have the opportunity to participate in domestic and international study abroad programs to contextualize their coursework. Programs can span anywhere from a few weeks to a full academic year. Students are encouraged to study abroad during their second or third year after completing two satisfactory semesters. 

The information sessions throughout the week focus on different international education options. Monday’s discussion covered basic questions about the logistics of studying abroad, from finances to planning. The following discussion on Tuesday featured three student guest speakers that shared how they studied abroad in a cost-effective manner, usually done through the National Student Exchange (NSE). 

On Wednesday Nov. 20, an information session about the annual Boren Scholarship will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m in LBR 141. The Boren Scholarship gives awards to study a plethora of critical languages, from Javanese to Japanese. Students at all levels of proficiency are encouraged to apply. The application is due on Feb. 5, 2020. 

For the last day of IEW, two student speakers who studied abroad in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs will share their experiences in the Heiser Conference Room from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

The Assistant Director of Language Resource Center Florence Zamsky is the primary on-campus resource students meet with to discuss their study abroad options. Any student who plans accordingly has the opportunity to study abroad, and for Zamsky, IEW is about making those experiences.

“IEW is to promote opportunities to study abroad and bring an awareness particularly to students who may have never thought about it,” Zamsky said.

A common barrier that holds students back from studying abroad is the cost, but Zamsky recommends seven international programs facilitated with NSE, which allows students to pay New College tuition with some added fees. 

However, the NSE is mainly a domestic program, but students cannot attend schools in the same state. The application for domestic NSE options is due Feb. 15, 2020 for Fall and Spring semesters. For international locations, there are two application deadlines: Feb. 15, 2020 for Fall semester and Oct. 1, 2020 for Spring semester. 

According to Zamsky, study abroad provides positive experiences for the students she has worked with. 

“I have yet to meet a students who came back and was unhappy,” Zamsky said. 

Zamsky also notes that it is normal for students, especially those who have never been outside of Florida, to experience culture shock.

“The first couple of weeks are all great and then all of a sudden it’s like, ‘wait a minute, things are really different here and people are getting on my nerves because they don’t do things like we do at home and this is driving me crazy,’” Zamsky said.

Agnes Bartha and Cassidy Myers are two third-years currently studying abroad. Each student is enjoying their experiences and shared how they are benefiting from their international education. 

Bartha, who is studying in Budapest, Hungary, feels empowered to return to New College  not afraid to speak her mind.  

“I think at New College people might be a little afraid to speak their mind if it differs from most of their peers,” Bartha said. “[In Hungary] everybody is so bold about what they think of their experiences that I am just inspired to be more like that.”

Because of her experience so far, Myers feels more confident to be independent outside of her comfort zones. In an email interview, Myers noted the benefit of language immersion, despite initial embarrassment. Myers is studying in Bordeaux, France, through NSE. 

“As embarrassing as language barriers can sometimes be, it can also be really fun in a low-stakes situation and it forces you to have to actually fully immerse yourself into the local culture,” Myers said.

Because some study-abroad programs are not as academically rigorous as New College, students have time to plan outside trips. Bartha is taking five courses and has visited four other countries so far. 

“It’s such as amazing opportunity here to hop on a bus or train, even a car and just go,” Bartha said.

Finding travel routes in most parts of Europe is fairly practical and spontaneous. For instance, a $15 bus pass can be booked a night before a trip to go from one country to another, which Bartha has done. 

If students want to study abroad but are concerned about culture shock, Myers recommends Western Europe since there are many similarities in the restaurants, shopping and music.

The study abroad programs available to students are vast and include programs that put students side by side to other international peers which gives students the opportunity to learn about cultures outside of the country they are in. 

Zamsky recommends that students thinking about studying abroad should make an appointment with Zamsky during their first year or as soon as possible. Zamsky warned students about not waiting until the last minute to plan for a trip. 

“It takes not only academic planning but financial planning as well, and that’s not something that you want to figure out two months prior to going,” Zamsky said.

For many students, international education gives academic and personal experiences that add enrichment to the American college education. At New College, students usually come back from study-abroad programs eager to tell their stories. 

Aside from the personal growth that can come with studying abroad, Zamsky also believes that it can benefit students in the workforce.

“I think [international education] is very valuable when you look for a job and be able to show that you have this experience [plus] cross cultural awareness and adaptability,” Zamsky said. 

The possibilities to study abroad are plenty, and students should inform themselves about all the requirements needed to make it a reality.

“The paperwork can be daunting, getting visas can be a pain, and there are lots of logistical things you’ll have to figure out,” Myers said. “But I promise it’s worth it.” 

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