Apr 242011
Authors: Emily Johnson

*Different ways to
explore different places*
Some students prefer real-life experience to their textbooks and a study-abroad experience can provide just that. This is the time of year when CSU students are solidifying their fall semester learning excursions to universities around the globe.

Opportunities exist for most majors to study abroad in nearly any country of the world. Popular destinations are Western Europe, U.K., Spain, France and increasingly Latin America, Asia and Australia.

There are two ways to approach a study abroad experience. Students can choose a CSU-sponsored or affiliated trip, or they can directly enroll in another country’s university. The advantage to participating in a program sponsored by CSU is that students do not need to un-enroll from CSU, which is the result of enrolling directly into another university.
It is also cost effective to choose a CSU-sponsored program.

“CSU-sponsored trips are comparable to tuition here,” said Chris Churma, director of the Study Abroad program. “There are also scholarships and various forms of assistance available to make it affordable.”

Churma encourages all students to consider studying abroad. He spent a semester in London studying business while he was in college.

“I picked it because I thought it was the only place I could get away without knowing another language. But it was still hard,” he said. “They have different slang, a different way of doing things. It’s another culture. And that’s what it about — immersing your self in another culture.”

He enjoyed London because he said it’s sort of a culture hub, so he was close to many cultures. It was also easy to travel around the region, a perk of studying abroad.

Another option to choosing one country to study in is to participate in Semester at Sea, a program housed on a ship that visits as many as 11 countries during the term.

“It’s a floating campus,” Churma said. “It’s your school, your home, your everything.”

Semester at Sea is a unique experience to live and study with 1,000 students on a ship but also to interact with professors on an intimate level at dinner or a social event.

Churma said his study abroad experiences instilled a deep love for lifetime travel.

“It becomes an addiction,” Churma said. “One that I don’t want cured.”

The first taste of a travel addiction
Communication major Lindsay Reichel is just beginning to feel the beginning twinges of a travel addiction. She has just been accepted to Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Her grandfather was stationed there years ago, and she grew up hearing stories about Australia.

“I’ve always wanted to go there,” said Reichel, who considers the upcoming experience a dream come true.

She has never traveled abroad before and rarely spends time away from her family in small-town Louisville, Colo.

“I’m kind of sheltered,” she said.

She’s scared to leave her family and friends behind but giddy with excitement to go.

“My friends said I’ve been glowing since I found out,” Reichel said.

As a communications major, Reichel will be taking some communications and English classes. She’s also signed up for a children’s literature class, which she think will be fun learning about children’s folklore there. She plans on an international communications career and anticipates this study-abroad experience will provide a foundation for that.

“It’s all overwhelming right now,” Reichel said. “But by the time I get back in December, I won’t believe it’s over.”

Short-term projects fulfill the travel bug
There are other ways to study abroad without spending a whole semester in another country. Sophomores Regan Brown and Alfredo Castillo recently participated in a short-term study abroad experience in Mexico. The CSU/UADY Leadership Exchange brings together students from Colorado State University and the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan for a meaningful leadership, service and language exchange.

The exchange is hosted by SLiCE and the Office of International Programs. CSU students went to Merida, Mexico for a week during fall break then UADY students recently came to CSU.

Part of the Yucatan experience was to visit Mayan villages to see if the residents have basic needs like cooking material or elastic for their hammocks. More importantly, it’s a time to fellowship with the community, to talk and laugh and make sure everyone is feeling okay.

“It was kind of a shocker,” Brown said. “It really makes you appreciate the privileges we are accustomed to here.”

Brown noticed that even though the Mayan people lived in huts, slept on hammocks and didn’t have cars or paved roads they seemed quite happy and content. What inspired her the most was the connection they had with each other. She was touched by the way family members looked out for one another. She also appreciated how patient the community was as she hesitantly tried to speak Spanish with them.

“There was a lot of Spanglish going on,” she laughed.

“It was very meaningful,” Castillo said. “I learned a lot about myself through this experience.”

Castillo said that after learning about effective, low-cost health care programs implemented in Mexico, he was inspired to bring those ideas to the U.S. He also said that the experience in general fueled his passion for service to those in need.

One reason Brown and Castillo participated in the short-term service trip was because it’s an affordable alternative to semester-long study abroad trips.

“We got to see how universities in other countries operate and immerse ourselves in a community way different than ours,” Castillo said.

Even though it was short, Brown said she came away from the experience “totally inspired” and hopes to spend an entire summer there next time around. As an ethnic studies major and one of 13 children in her family that have been adopted from all around the world, she plans on doing some international service work in the future.

Castillo, a biology major, plans on going into family practice and would like to develop a program to help Spanish-speaking patients overcome language barriers in the health care field. He said he values his privileges here in America and wants to continue helping communities around the world who are not so fortunate.

“Whether or not you take advantage of the opportunities you have, just having them here is huge,” Castillo said. “I plan on taking them.”

Staff writer Emily Johnson can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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