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The Blue & Gray Press | May 24, 2017

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Study Abroad program takes UMW students to far away places

Study Abroad program takes UMW students to far away places

By AMANDA BIELECKI

For many college students studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity and experience. Some choose France, Italy, Argentina and countless other countries around the world. From new food, new people and a new environment, studying abroad offers a wide range of unique experiences.

Most students study abroad over the spring or fall semester, but senior Kelsey Stanbro she chose to study abroad over winter break in South Africa. Stanbro shared her experience and the environment she settled into.

She said that the two townships she visited were polar opposites. The poor township of Langa had several homes where eight or so families of five shared a four-bedroom house.

The township next to Langa was affluent by comparison. Stanbro only went to two, but she felt that since both were so diverse, she could experience two different kinds of towns and lifestyles in South Africa.

Every individual that studies abroad has his or her own unique experience. Current senior McKinley Nault chose to study abroad in France during her junior year of high school and had a vastly different experience than Stanbro. She continues to describe the difference in schooling in France saying how high school in Europe was more similar to college.

While homesickness is to be expected, Nault said that the distance was not too overwhelming. She remembers her mother sending her the DVD “Tangled” for Easter, even though she had no DVD player to watch it.  Nault had a lot of free time and an extremely relaxed time schedule, which prepared her better for college.

Nault stayed with a host family, so she could fully immerse herself into the culture. Bread and cheese was a constant at every mealtime. Nault recalled her host father calling American burgers “sponges.”

Nault also appreciated the different festivals and celebrations France had to offer. She listened to a lot of reggae, and attended a festival, called “The Giants Marionettes of Royal de Lux.” The festival only happens once every four years.

She also explained the difference in grocery stores, saying that there were not a lot of processed foods that American grocery stores carry. She recalled that many French people did not buy their food in bulk and would go shopping for dinner every night.  

Both Nault and Stanbro exhibit the benefits and unique experience of studying abroad and going to a completely different country. Every country has its own culture and its own lifestyle. Studying abroad gives students an opportunity to experience and be a part of a culture outside of the United States. However, the one problem for many people is the cost.

Mary Washington provides students with different financial assistance to allow for students to study abroad. Along with multiple approved scholarships, UMW’s Center for International Education provides information on several forms of financial assistance that are available through UMW Financial Aid.

Overall, studying abroad is an amazing opportunity that every college student should consider pursuing.  

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