“Studying abroad: is it right for me?”

Article by Snapper news reporter Beth Anne Heesen

Millersville’s campus just would not be the same without the playful squirrels, quacking ducks, and beautiful swans. Study abroad students are enjoying different kinds of animals at their campuses overseas—like monkeys at the University of KwaZula-Natal in South Africa and kangaroos at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.

“They really do have them…I witnessed them,” said Dr. Kirsten Bookmiller, the university’s Director of Global Education and Partnerships, at a Study Abroad Info Session last Thursday evening. She had the pictures to prove it.

Graduate Assistant of Global Education and Partnerships Breanne Zipko said Millersville students are heading overseas in increasing numbers because more options are available to them than in the past. Students are now able to not only take classes abroad, but also intern, student teach, complete their social work field placements, or take a Millersville course abroad.

“We have been bombarded at our office,” Bookmiller said.

Despite the high level of interest Millersville students are showing in going abroad, some are hesitant for a variety of reasons. Financial concerns are common. Bookmiller said that federal financial aid can be applied to Study Abroad programs for students who are eligible to receive financial aid, and that the costs for programs vary depending on where you go.

Another concern has to do with language, but Bookmiller said there is no need to be able to speak a foreign language. “We have a variety of opportunities to take classes in countries where English is not the primary language and have classes in English.”

Some students (or their parents) worry that a semester overseas will be a blow-off semester, or that the quality of education will not be as good.

“People stereotype that in America we know best,” said Zipko. “But there are so many areas of expertise in universities abroad.”

She pointed to Saint Mary’s University College in Belfast, Ireland as an example. “This is a real opportunity for education majors,” she said. “It was originally established as a teaching school.”

There are also opportunities for students to go to business schools in Spain and France. Another unique experience is available for social work majors to complete their 450-hour field placement requirement abroad. For example, there are a number of social work students in South Africa this semester. Zipko said this field placement is invaluable because it gives social work majors a chance to work somewhere where there is a great need for them and that is very different from Lancaster.

“It’s a huge résumé builder,” she said. “You get a wonderful international experience.”

Cayla McCullough, who studied abroad at the Universidad de Burgos in Spain, said foreign language majors should definitely try to study abroad. Matt Palmer, who also studied at the Universidad de Burgos, said his experience was a complete cultural immersion. “You are forced to adjust to the new culture,” he said. “It can be tough, but it is fun and amazing to see how people live.”

The deadline to apply to study abroad during summer or fall 2011 is Feb. 18, and in September to study abroad during spring 2012. Zipko said a lot of students hand their applications in early. “You just want to pack your bags and go,” she said. “They’re so excited because there’s a huge sense of ‘This is it. I’m going!’”

Students interested in studying abroad should stop by the Office of Global Education and Partnerships at Cumberland House on the corner of Frederick and George streets between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. They can also call (717) 872-3884, email GlobalEducation@Millersville.edu, or look up StudyAbroad Millersville on Facebook.

Taken from the Feb. 10, 2011 edition of The Snapper.