If Alaska is not foreign enough, take a journey overseas with one of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s study abroad programs.
Whether students travel to meet new people, learn about different cultures or simply enjoy a new experience, the study abroad program offers 80 countries to choose from and a wide range of programs to satisfy the needs of each student.
Cecile Mitchell, director of International Services and Study Abroad, sees the interest in studying overseas rising, and she looks forward to helping new students explore different areas of the world.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to enrich their global awareness,” Mitchell said. “Everyone comes back with different perspectives about America and the world.”
“The interest for study abroad is definitely growing. I think people are seeing the value and the great opportunity there is,” he said.
Sociology and spanish student Brooke Lawrence wasn’t sure why she first walked into the study abroad office, but after her experience in Costa Rica she is glad she did. Not only did Lawrence enjoy the school she attended, but she also met her fiancé, Harold Juarez, a native Costa Rican.
Originally, Lawrence planned to stay for only three months, but soon after arriving in Costa Rica she knew she wanted to stay longer. From attending a different school to meeting new people, Lawrence learned many lessons throughout her experience.
Lawrence also experienced being an ethnic minority for the first time, which she said was “different,” but definitely an enlightening experience.
Political science student Bri Pallister could only call her experience in Denmark and Greece “life changing.” In high school, Pallister studied in Denmark and couldn’t wait to go back.
“It’s a very positive experience,” she said. Pallister found it easier than most to adjust. She speaks Danish and Swedish and already had friends in Denmark. She also considers herself a very outgoing person.
“The people are a little different,” she said. “It might be difficult for people to get used to at first if you’re not outgoing.” She suggests to live with a host family if a student has that opportunity.
“You’ll get so much more out of it,” she said. Pallister also enjoyed her school experience. A year’s worth of credits in Denmark would not transfer for her major, so she attended school in Denmark for a semester and Greece for a semester.
“The teachers were phenomenal,” she said. “They understand you’re there from out of the country and they let you travel.”
Foreign language student Kendra Isakson had a harder time adjusting than most, but she eventually grew to enjoy her time in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Isakson traveled through National Student Exchange, a program that allows students to attend other universities in the United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
“The hardest part was feeling isolated and lonely,” she said. “It’s hard to make yourself go out and meet people.” Isakson’s school was taught in French, and she mostly spoke French in her social outings. She said it’s hard to get used to a culture that eats different foods, participates in different activities and has different traditions
Isakson strongly advises study abroad students to do everything they are invited to do.
“Just be really flexible. Everything gets better,” she said. “Give everything time.”
All three travelers agreed the application process was easy, and Mitchell was extremely helpful in planning the trips and working with credits.
“She’s probably one of the main reasons I went down there,” Lawrence said. “If there hadn’t been someone so helpful I would have walked out of the office and not looked back.”
UAA currently has 20 to 30 participants in study abroad programs and about 35 participants in the National Student Exchange. Courses and credits are evaluated before students leave, and scholarships are available for several trips.
Mitchell said it is best to plan a year in advance for best results. Call Mitchell at the International Services office at 786-1558 or visit her in the Administration Building Room 176 for more information. Nelson also suggested visiting goabroad.com and studyabroad.com for more information on the various study abroad programs available to students.
“It is a growing program and I’m thrilled to be able to say that,” Mitchell said. Mitchell and Nelson both enjoy seeing students expand their horizons by studying abroad.
“We live in an increasingly global world,” Nelson said. “It’s valuable to see the different perspectives and to care about other parts of the world.”