“Studying abroad…the best decision of my life”

That’s me (in the hat) with other OU and Dortmund students.

I found some spare change in my coat pocket one day: two copper-ringed Turkish Lira that are worth just over $1. Despite their limited monetary value, the coins represent so much more to me. They were shiny reminders of my short-term study abroad trip to Germany and Turkey in spring of 2010, and what turned out to be the best two weeks of my life.

And then after stopping by Study Abroad 2010 Fair, I realize that these shorter trips, along with OU’s semester and year-long programs, have had the same effect on many OU students and alumni.

Listen to OU student Mariya Marvakova, originally from Bulgaria, explain how she benefited from studying abroad.

“Honestly, studying abroad was the best decision of my life,” echoed Jennifer Meadows ’11. She shared her experience traveling to Greece with one of Oglethorpe’s short-term study abroad groups, as well as her adventures in Australia while completing a long-term program through Arcadia University.

As part of a panel of 11 students and professors, she and her fellow panelists led a lively discussion about study abroad, with an audience of more than 40 students. Her testimony about living and working in the land down under, seeing animals indigenous to Australia and eating kangaroo kept the discussion colorful and unique. Also in attendance were Florian Siedlarek, visiting professor of German (Dortmund TU), Suzanne Bray from Lillie, France, and OU alum James McClung ’98, associate director of UGA at Oxford Study Abroad Program.

Spanish major John Burke ’11 is studying abroad in Madrid, Spain: “The student who will undergo the real life-changing experience is the one who makes a true effort to completely immerse his or herself into the culture, study and practice hard in order to learn the language, get out of the house and see all that there is to see, meet as many people as possible and make a living wherever he or she is. It’s not about what studying abroad really is, but rather how a student lives it.”

Oglethorpe offers plenty of study abroad options, from short-term group trips to semester and year-long trips for students who want to explore other cultures alone.  Oglethorpe students can take these trips for credit, and best of all, when they travel to any of Oglethorpe’s Exchange Partner Schools, they can apply their financial aid  to their study there.  In effect, whatever they pay at Oglethorpe is what they pay at their exchange school.  Through this exchange program, hundreds of Oglethorpe students have made their marks at schools in Europe, Asia, and South America.

“It’s really overwhelming at first considering the fact that you meet people, and you think ‘I speak English and they speak English, but….for some reason we’re not really understanding each other!’ recalled Jennifer. “But everyone’s really nice and understanding. You realize that, just like everything else, it’s just a process. Anything that is new and different is going to be intimidating at first, but you’ll catch on rather quickly.”

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