Story by Kelsey Grapperhaus, Staff writer
Murray State students received the opportunity on Sept. 17 at the Study Abroad Fair to get a better insight at what studying abroad is and what changes would be made this year within the program.
Every year, more than 300 Murray State students from diverse backgrounds study abroad, going to Spain, Germany, France, China, Canada, Cuba and many more countries. Students have the opportunity to join a study abroad program that consists of only one week or up to an entire semester.
Studying abroad helps people gain a deeper understanding of other countries and cultures, enabling students to be better, more interesting people and more employable.
With changes being made in the last year, this upcoming spring semester the Education Abroad Office is adding a study abroad program to Barcelona, which already has a high student-interest rate, said Education Abroad adviser Robyn Pizzo.
Within the program, the Spanish language is not required but students would take one or two studying abroad classes at their current level of Spanish along with two to three classes that would be taught in English. The students would live with a host family and the program would consist of a group experience where the group travels and takes classes with other Murray State students.
Another change recorded so far this semester is the Education Abroad Office is seeing an increase in the number of first-year students wanting to study abroad for the spring semester or on Spring Break programs. Without wanting to turn students away, the Education Abroad Office has required in the past that students complete at least one year on campus before studying abroad.
Students find that the earlier they plan their study abroad, the more classes they have to choose from, Pizzo said. For these students, the Education Abroad Office will conditionally approve them to their program pending the final grades from the student’s first semester, which is also added motivation for the students to do well in their classes.
Mason Larimore, sophomore from LaGrange, Kentucky, received the opportunity to study abroad not just once her freshman year, but twice.
“I knew I wanted to try to study abroad during my first year so that if I really enjoyed it, I would have many more opportunities to study abroad again and not look back and wish I would have taken the opportunity when I had the chance,” Larimore said.
Larimore said that after studying abroad in Belize and Ireland, she “experienced things that she wouldn’t have otherwise in the United States.”
She received her first experience outside of the country in Belize, where she zip-lined, ate termites, and observed monkeys in the wild, and her second experience in Ireland, learning about Irish agriculture practices, which she can use later as experience in her career as an agriculture teacher, all while taking a class and getting college credit.
“Studying abroad isn’t just a ‘trip’,” Larimore said, “It’s an experience! I got to learn about agricultural practices all while traveling the country with my peers. I attended both of these programs my freshman year and now as a sophomore I will be traveling to Australia and I can’t wait!”
Open to students of all majors and all years in school, the deadline for applying for a Spring Break or spring semester program in 2016 is Oct. 16.