By Tava Hoag
Travel, study, live. These words are the essence of studying abroad at Fitchburg State University. They are also three words that the department of international education encourages its students to experience and learn from. Many people in passing hear about going abroad in college but they automatically assume that it’s too good to be true or that it’s overly expensive.
Sophomore nursing major Maddie Radock said, “A lot of people encouraged me at the beginning of freshmen year to try and study abroad but I never pursued it because I am a nursing student and it seemed like too much of a hassle to work around and plan out.”
What students don’t realize is that by shutting the idea of going abroad down, they are robbing themselves of an experience of a lifetime. But what makes this particular experience so special?
Dr. Thomas Murray, advisor and English professor at Fitchburg State, seemed to think it was the benefits that appear after going abroad that make it so worthwhile. Murray said,
“Studying abroad places you ahead of others who are competing for jobs in the same field as you. It provides students with the edge that they need on a resume.”
“It looks far more impressive when you can say that I took this such and such a course in Scotland and learned this… as opposed to another student who took it here in the U.S and wasn’t exposed to the varied techniques of different countries.”
“The connections that international education allows students here at FSU to make that normally are outside their realm of possibility are in my opinion essential for the job market.”
According to the International Education webpage online, “about 60 current students are attending classes abroad this year.” The department is hoping that this number will increase with each coming year and the staff is very helpful in any and all situations as they try to make each student’s dream trip become a reality.
Fitchburg state has a variety of options that students can take advantage of to travel abroad. The university offers faculty led proposals which allow students to travel with a professor from Fitchburg State itself and experience courses that are taught by that professor in a different country rather than on the FSU campus. The university also offers exchange programs with schools in England, Germany, Italy and China and is in agreement with other study abroad provider programs that make it possible for students to go to locations that Fitchburg State doesn’t typically offer.
Razz Beley a photography student at Fitchburg was very happy with the faculty led program that she went on as well as going abroad in general.
“I would say it was the experience of a lifetime, I mean I was in another country.”
Beley went to Verona, Italy as well as Florence with the photography department in the summer of 2012. She was there for a month. When asked how Fitchburg State made going abroad affordable for her she said,
“They have loads of scholarships, I just applied for as many as I could and they actually covered $1,200 of the $3,200 trip. I took out Mefa loans for the rest and am only paying $50 a month to pay them back.” Beley admitted to being a bit surprised that it was so affordable.
“I knew I needed to go abroad now because after graduation it will never be this inexpensive.”
This trip also introduced her to a culture she would not have been exposed to here in the U.S
“I learned more just being in the country about Italian culture than I did in two of my Italian classes at Fitchburg State, you learn because you are forced to.” Beley said.
While abroad Beley went to 9 different towns and only had class a few times a week so she spent the rest of her free time sightseeing and experiencing all that she could. FSU students typically only take 2-4 classes depending on which kind of program they choose.
“Going with the school was a little less overwhelming because I wasn’t traveling alone, but no matter how comfortable you are with traveling there will always be something to shock you in a new country.” Beley was particularly shocked by the intense levels of PDA she witnessed in Italy.
Beley was outwardly happy that she decided to take this trip and she learned a lot about herself and the world outside of Fitchburg State.
“It’s a great opportunity that more students should take advantage of because everyone says that they will do it when they are out of school but it never happens, don’t wait to take the plunge.”
Beley closed the interview by saying, “It is a journey that gives students the chance to explore the world and find out more about themselves along the way and it is the best way anyone can experience growing up.”
Interested yet? Check out the International Education page on Fitchburg State’s website and look at the options of study abroad. Next faculty led trips are to Spain and France over Spring Break 2015 from March 6-15. Costs of the programs range from $2,800- $3,400 respectively and include tuition, housing, airfare, in – country transportation and medical insurance.