by LaRey Wright
I was startled awake by what sounded like a wounded duck outside my window. As soon as my feet hit the ground, I remembered that I was no longer in the United States. I was hearing the typical morning harmonies of Rome, seagulls squawking along the water near my apartment and horns blaring in the busy streets. I headed out to my favorite café with thoughts of a traditional Italian breakfast on my mind, coffee and a croissant with jam.
“Buon Giorno! Vorrei un café latte e un cornetto con marmellata,” I stated confidently to the barista. That confidence came from immersing myself into the Italian language and culture.
I would suggest that each college student take at least one semester to step outside of their comfort zone and travel abroad. Studying abroad is increasingly becoming more essential to the university experience.
According to the UNESCO Institute, back in 2000 there were only 2.1 million students studying abroad. Now, only 20 years later, there are over 5 million. Students who choose to study abroad gain an advantage over other applicants in the same job field. The American University in Rome alone enrolls 500 students every semester from over 40 different countries.
Out of thousands of students here at Norfolk State University, only about 30 students decide to study abroad each year. There are dozens of programs that can take students to almost any country around the world. Many of these programs include scholarships. The director of the international program, Dr. William Alexander, states that you can spend a semester in Thailand for the same amount of tuition as a semester at Norfolk State, and that includes airfare.
Many students believe that studying abroad would interfere with their education. However, many of the required courses and major-specific courses are available through these programs. The study abroad office will also ensure that all of your classes will count towards your degree. The education that you receive from traveling broadens your world view. This is an education that you cannot receive at home.
Studying abroad can be an exhilarating and eye-opening experience. It can also be the experience that gets you the interview in this globally competitive job market.