Thanksgiving break provided the opportunity for students to finalize their study abroad process as Tuesday, Dec. 1 marked the last day the Office of International Programs issued I-20s for students ready to embark on international journeys. These forms allow students to re-enter the U.S. following their studies overseas.
Seton Hall offers a variety of study abroad programs which consist of SHU faculty-led trips offered in the summer, spring break and winter, as well as exchange programs and trips offered by third party providers, says Maria Bouzas, director of the Office of International Programs.
Student Brooks Mencke, senior marketing major, took advantage of one of Seton Hall’s three exchange programs to travel to London, England in fall 2014.
“I got to work with a lot of different individuals from not only England but from Denmark and the Netherlands,” Mencke said. “It really broadened my experience working with people of different backgrounds and being able to accomplish a task and working well in a group which you would face in the workplace.”
Planning ahead was a big deal for Mencke as she had to learn how to pack lightly and pack enough for her three month stay in England. Mencke experienced studying overseas while seeing historical London monuments such as the Tower Bridge and Big Ben.
Mencke said she “1 million percent” recommends studying abroad to other students. “You get to diversify your experience in college and you gain a lot of confidence in doing it,” she said.
The spring 2015 semester marked a pivotal moment for senior Micaela Tremblay during her four year academic career at Seton Hall. Tremblay, marketing major, embarked on her first study abroad experience to Milan, Italy, during her junior year.
In the fall prior to the spring she studied abroad, Tremblay began the application process, which consisted of getting approvals for credits from professors and deans at the University.
Reading blogs on how to pack and tips on traveling outside the country helped Tremblay prepare for her months studying outside of the U.S.
Bouzas said planning head is important for successfully registering for international study abroad programs.
“The earlier you look into study abroad, the more options you have to transfer in credits and apply to scholarships,” Bouzas said. “If students wait until their late junior or senior year to study abroad, they may have more difficulty getting approval from their major to transfer in high-level courses.”
Bouzas also said culture shock is a challenge that some students go through. It takes them from being excited to being confused and frustrated as they hopefully grow accustomed to their new surroundings.
Tremblay said that language barriers were especially challenging while in Italy, “I stayed with a host family so sometimes there was miscommunication.”
Tremblay said her most memorable experience was growing accustomed to her host family’s customs and being able to fit in when they would go out in the town to local bars.
“I think that it is a great learning experience. Learning how to live on your own, travel independently, and getting out of your comfort zone,” said Tremblay.
During her undergraduate time, Bouzas took a year off to study abroad in an exchange program in Fukuoka, Japan. She was studying Spanish, Italian and Japanese, and felt that going to Japan would help her, as the Japanese language was the most challenging language for her.
“Japan really opened my eyes to how different cultures could be and I found everything there amazing. I also found the Japanese people to be among the nicest I have ever met,” Bouzas said.
Bouzas and Tremblay both said an advantage for studying abroad is its international impact. “If you have no reference to current events, cultures, geography, languages, you will be a step behind,” Bouzas said.
Tremblay and Mencke noted the only challenges they had to overcome were the application process, which is time consuming, and getting accustomed to a new culture.
Bouzas said those who are interested in studying abroad should make an appointment at the Office of International Programs to discuss the process and the options that Seton Hall offers.
The Office of International Programs holds open advising Monday from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. and by appointment only Tuesday through Friday in Presidents Hall room 322.
Sedria Thomas can be reached at email@example.com