Nine Insights into Study Abroad

Guest post originally published for Patriotlife

by Achim Loch, Center for Global Education

1.  There are over 90 study abroad programs with the Center for Global Education (CGE)

No matter where you want to go, there are tons of options available to you at Mason – short term programs during the winter break and summer term: Semester and year-long exchanges, intensive language courses, internships, a semester in Florence and an honors semester in Oxford. In addition to existing partnerships, students can research their own destinations and participate in any accredited program. Study abroad will help you grow personally and professionally.

2.  Programs range from one week to a full academic year

Enjoy a summer or a whole semester, two weeks over winter break, or a full academic year.

Students pose for a group shot during an exploration of Pikillaqta this winter in Peru

3. Create a life-long love affair with another country

Going abroad is not just an experience for a little while. It will influence you for the rest of your studies, if not for the rest of your life – I myself fell in love with a woman who I now call my wife (I tied the knot with a dictionary as one of my professors used to say). You learn to know this strange country, its language, its people, its customs, its peculiarities. Once you come back, you start looking for traces of your experience abroad. Interestingly enough, it is a phenomenon that I observed others do, that is those who have recently returned from abroad. You start watching telenovelas, you try to track down music in Japanese, you find yourself in the international aisle of a major supermarket looking for baked beans and kimchi. On the other hand, you begin to appreciate the comforts of your home after an exciting odyssey through South East Asia or the wild maze of islands making up the Philippines.  You might even venture to new markets and discover new foods, like these two worthy gentlemen in China:

Street Food in China [Summer 2013 Chinese Language Study in Beijing]

4. There is no better time to study abroad than during your undergrad career

Being an undergrad is the best time to pack your bags for an exciting study abroad experience. At no other time in your life will you be able to visit another country in such a unique way for an extended period of time. Fill up your winter break or consider an international summer school session in the UK, continental Europe, or in South Africa. Delving into a long term, that is a semester or year-long, experience will be seen as a luxury once you join the workforce. A mere 10 days or 12 days of vacation time a year will not allow you to get to know another culture in a hands-on way. Now is the time. Stand out in the crowd of your fellow undergraduates and join a program that will change your view on life, and most of all, yourself!

The story does not end here. Grad students will also find opportunities to study abroad with CGE. Quite a few programs tailored to the non-traditional student population; hence not only traditional semester options are solely available. A short term winter break program might just be the right investment to bridge the gap between two semesters! Study abroad fits into everyone’s schedule.

5. Freshman Options

Starting in the summer? Can’t wait to take in your college experience to the fullest? Why wait? You can sign up for your first study abroad experience as soon as you arrive at Mason. Our winter programs offer three credits in a variety of subjects – not just languages! You can earn credit in humanities and the sciences.

6. An internship can enrich your career and expand your network

Eventually you will seek employment in the corporate world. Why not earn actual work experience abroad and get credit for it? Make your resume stand out from others and explore new regions of the world while doing an internship in Shanghai, Buenos Aires, or London – to name a few. Connecting to new cultures and expanding your network is the first step of getting on with your future career!

Stars & Bucks Café – discovered by student Nicole Grim during her internship in Israel and Palestine

7. Study abroad is affordable, graduate faster!

Costs for studying abroad vary, yet studying abroad can be a money saver. It might not seem like it at first glance, but the following example from an out-of-state student at Mason nicely demonstrates how effective planning can enrich your experience, save you money, and help you graduate faster:

Example: Out-of-state student costs from 2011/12

There are plenty of options to finance your study abroad experience. All programs offer academic credit and, therefore, financial aid can be applied to most of them. In addition, a wide range of scholarships are available for study abroad, such as CGE’s Global Perspectives Scholarship for short term programs or for the Boren Scholarship:

[from the GMU Newsdesk]
Undergrad Receives Boren Scholarship to Study in China

8. Studying abroad is not just for the liberal arts

While the majority of CGE’s study abroad programs cater to the liberal arts, quite a few programs offer credit for business and economics or for the sciences. Short term faculty-led programs in South America and Africa, internships in Brazil, and a range of semester options offer a chance for Mason students to earn credit in their desired field.

Faculty and students in Colombia, one of the most scientifically captivating landscapes worldwide

9. Health and safety

All CGE students attend a mandatory pre-departure orientation on campus. Students are briefed on safety and health issues, meet fellow program participants, an their Mason faculty prior to departure.

Mason students sign in at CGE’s pre-departure orientation

Have we whetted your appetite? Then come see us on campus. We are located in the Johnson Center in Room 235. The Center for Global Education is open during regular office hours Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. We are also hosting our Study Abroad Fair and Social today, Wednesday, February 19, from 4pm-6pm in the Johnson Center West Lounge.

Bon voyage!

Achim Loch
Internet Marketing and Outreach Coordinator
Center for Global Education



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