When Paige Dale, junior from Bowling Green, Ky., studied abroad last year, the experience gave her a different perspective on what life is like in another country.
“I broadened my world view during my semester abroad,” Dale said. “I loved being able to experience a different culture.”
Dale said the experience made her more mature, and helped her to better be able to do things on her own. She said study abroad programs provide a unique way for students to travel and learn in another country.
Murray State offers more than 200 programs for students to study abroad in more than 40 countries, making it possible for students to experience and travel the world.
Jamie Booth, education abroad coordinator, said students who study abroad get to see how big the world is while learning a great deal about themselves.
“Often students feel more independent and able to better make decisions after studying abroad,” Booth said. “Students are also able to make connections and friendships across the globe, which is a big benefit personally and professionally.”
She said students are able to use the benefits from their experience abroad in their future careers as well.
According to a study done by Diversity Abroad, students who studied abroad had increased communication skills, more exposure to new ideas and philosophies, were better able to adapt to a new environment and had a better understanding of global issues.
Booth said that although some students may feel it can be too expensive to study abroad, the benefits received are worth it and there are many ways to receive the funds needed.
Of the 270 Murray State students who studied abroad last year, 127 received scholarships. The average scholarship received by students was more than $1,000 and 84 percent of the students who applied were awarded with scholarships.
According to a study done by The Princeton Review, 273,996 American students studied abroad in the 2010-11 academic year.
Fifty-three percent of students studied in Europe, which is the leading host for American students studying abroad. The United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France and China were the top five countries where students studied abroad.
The study found the majority of students who are choosing to study abroad are female, making up 63.5 percent of the students who went abroad to study in the 2010-11 academic year.
Charlotte Beahan, professor of history, said her experience teaching abroad has helped her bring history to life for her students.
“Students experience a sense of what it is like to come from another country and observe a different culture,” Beahan said. “Students seem more engaged and excited about the material when they are studying abroad.”
According to a survey conducted by the Institute for the International Education of Students, 98 percent of students who studied abroad said they had an increased maturity level, 96 percent reported having higher self-confidence and 97 percent said it has had a lasting impact on their world view.
Beahan said she encourages students to take advantage of study abroad programs now, because there will never be a better time in students’ lives.
Said Beahan: “(Students) will never have more money or time to go, while moving forward with their education and living in a foreign country.”
Story by Rebecca Walter, Staff Writer