Gaining perspective on study abroad

As students of Loras College, we have an incredible study abroad program that allows us a variety of options around the world to expand our knowledge from a different perspective, and for ranging amounts of time. With that in mind, on February 1 of 2019, I, along with one other student, arrived in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, for a three-month study program. I lived with a sweet older woman named Felisa, and studied Spanish at the university next to her piso (apartment). For my internship I studied the effects of consumption of alcohol in university students, and the effects of lead poisoning in children in two pueblos in South America, and I also volunteered at a day care in a nearby town. I had the opportunities to travel all around Spain, but to also leave the country and go to Ireland, Portugal, France, and Morocco. My wish for the Loras Community is for every student to gain the knowledge and take advantage of opportunities that can only be found by studying abroad.

When choosing a program, you should first decide how long you want to be gone for. If you don’t think you can do a full semester, there are many different J-term courses that range from Costa Rica and India, to other places as well. If even that is too much time, you may want to consider the TREC trip to Rosarito, Mexico that occurs during spring break. Maybe you’ve gone through them all and think, “well I’d love to go to Germany in the summer but I don’t see that option,” don’t feel defeated. Go to the Center for Experimental Learning (CEL) office or find a different program online, and the Loras office will work with you to get you into the program of your dreams.

You’ve chosen your program and you’re officially leaving the country, congratulations! Before you go there’s some things you need to do. First and foremost, go to your meetings in CEL because it is vital that you have all documents set before you leave. Get organized and prepare to leave your academics here, be sure you’ll still be on track and inform your advisors of your plans. Research where you’re going. It’s important to know the weather, culture, and activities that go on in the country. Keep your mind open to opportunities and learn new things. You are lucky to be able to go and do such amazing things so take advantage of it.

One last piece of advice, you will never know what will happen to you until you’re living in the moment. You’ll learn to expect the unexpected, but then throw that away because something else happens, but that is what will make the greatest memories. You won’t ever feel ready, and that may be scary to you, but never let that deter you from living abroad. Instead, let that fear ignite something in your heart and lead you on your greatest adventures. I could go on with my advice but I think my favorite movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, sums up why you should travel with this quote.

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”

Take on this new challenge and take the leap to go study abroad during your time here at Loras College.

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