Studying Abroad: Once-in-a-lifetime chance

Anjanae Crump, Managing Editor

The University of New Orleans offers study abroad options in over 11 different countries for summer, single-semester and full-year programs.

“The mission of the study abroad programs within the Division of International Education is to provide international educational opportunities to the students and faculty of the University of New Orleans,” said International Education Program Director Irene Ziegler.

Over 15,000 students have participated, and each year efforts are made to increase this number. Emails are distributed, posters are hung and representatives are sent to classrooms. But are students actually convinced to take the leap around the world?

Junior Terrell Jones said, “I would like to study abroad because it would give me a chance to get out in the world and see a different place and have a new experience. But I cannot afford it.”

Sophomore Dylana Evans shared similar sentiments. “I would [study abroad] just to be able to go to a new place and experience new things and a different culture; but probably not because – actually – I know I wouldn’t be able to afford it.”

Though students admit that the study abroad program is a worthy investment, cost is definitely a concern for many. Up-front price includes a $200 application fee, tuition and fees for 6-12 credit hours and a $180 study abroad health insurance fee. Not included in this payment to the university is airfare, room and board, and other miscellaneous personal expenses. Depending on where the student goes, the total cost of the trip could increase greatly.

Ziegler said, “Students should carefully analyze cost and expenses, but they should not rule out studying abroad before looking into the multitude of financial assistance opportunities available for it. In 2015-16, UNO awarded about $70,000 in institutional awards and scholarships to more than 50 UNO students studying abroad.”

“In addition, federal financial aid and loans can often be used to fund study abroad. All Pell Grant recipients, for example, are eligible for the very prestigious and generous Gilman scholarships, through which a number of UNO students received over $12,000 for study abroad programs last year.  And there are many other sources for financial assistance, including UNO’s SGA, certain departments, and outside sources.  So, just start asking questions, and you may find that you can afford to study abroad and reap the benefits of this experience.”

“I did not know about scholarships,” Jones said.

“Of the many funding opportunities, the Ambassador Award program through the Division of International Education is the most extensive.  We received over 70 applications last year, and about 75 percent received an Ambassador Award,” said Ziegler.

But aside from cost, some students are concerned with language and time requirements. Ziegler said, “I would like to add that none of our summer abroad programs require students to speak a foreign language. All classes are taught in English, but students can, of course, choose to learn or improve a foreign language while abroad.”

“If students want to advance in a foreign language, or just gain a deeper international experience, they can also study abroad for a semester or academic year. UNO partners with universities all over the world for our semester exchange programs. In addition, the UNO-Innsbruck Academic Year Abroad program is a great option for studies, internships, and language learning in the beautiful Austrian Alps.”

“I would recommend studying abroad to any UNO student. We offer elective and core courses for all majors and our class offerings range from freshman to graduate level. Why study abroad? In addition to the obvious reasons, i.e., earning UNO credits while exploring the world, study abroad has been linked to higher four-year graduation rates, as well as higher retention rates.”

“Finally, the international experience will boost a student’s résumé and improve employability. Less than two percent of all U.S. undergraduates study abroad, and being able to put that on a résumé and use it in job interviews will set students apart in the ever-tightening job market,” Ziegler added.

“Thus, studying abroad with UNO, either for a summer or a semester, is an affordable and achievable way to explore the world, add additional value to your UNO degree, and invest in your future.”