Dec 082011
Authors: Sarah Fenton

After living 100 meters south of the Vatican city, Jason Saundry, a peer advisor in the office of International Programs, said he sees his experience while studying abroad in Italy as invaluable to his education.

“Practically no one from our parents’ generation has seen the world the way we have at such an early age.” Saundry said in an email to the Collegian.

In a recent Huffington Post article, it was reported that the importance of an international experience is increasing among college students.

At CSU, the opportunities available to students who are looking for international experience are numerous, with over 70 organizations that work with CSU to send students abroad.

According to Chris Churma, a study abroad coordinator at CSU, it is becoming more popular for specific majors and concentrations to require international experience in their degrees.

Churma believes that there are two factors that can help explain this trend. The first is that the nature of the world today demands an increasing emphasis on international business.

“We often hear the world is becoming more and more connected, and because of that interconnectedness, we are doing more business across borders,” Churma said.

The second reason, according to Churma, boils down to something much closer to home for many college students.

“My own assumption is that the nature of the current workforce may have something to do with it,” Churma said. “Unemployment is high right now, so many people may look the same on a resume. Any way to diversify that resume allows a candidate to standout and be more marketable.”

Because of his time in Italy, Saundry ended up landing an internship, which according to him was competitive and wouldn’t have happened without his time abroad.

“I think being one of the one percent of students in the US who study abroad, you have the upper hand amongst the rest of your peers,” Saundry said.

Although studying abroad has become a commonplace option in educational experience, according to Churma, there are stigmas that can keep students away from the possibility.

While the cost of studying abroad may be daunting at first, Saundry said it’s not as hefty on the wallet as it seems due to the availability of financial aid.

“There’s no reason to not take advantage of an opportunity that could change your life,” he said.

Although the growing popularity of international experience has prompted a significant change in educational planning, according to Barbara Richardson, the assistant director of the CSU Career Center, it is not a requirement in any sense.

“International experience tends to be more of a ‘bonus’ to our recruiters than a necessity but that depends a lot on the organization itself,” Richardson said.

In fact, in a recent study done by Bowling Green State University, recruiters have been shown to appreciate study abroad experience specifically when they themselves have had experience.

Saundry reports that CSU has opened up programs in new countries as meaning that the opportunities for students are diverse and can fit many different concentrations.

“The biggest trouble is decided where in the world you want to go and how many countries you want to visit, which I think, is a challenge I am always up for,” he added.

Collegian writer Sarah Fenton can be reached at

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