Abroad study and beyond


Andre Gary-Mack, Opinion Editor (He/him)

The Education Abroad office held a series of Zoom calls discussing a variety of topics when it comes to studying abroad Oct. 8-9. The panelists answered questions regarding how to get started studying abroad, like what country students are interested in going to and areas of study. 

In the panel discussion hosted by Briana Litz, South Dakota State University’s study abroad advisor, SDSU students who have studied abroad answered questions pertaining to why they went abroad, what they had hoped to gain from their experience, how it changed them and what was the determining factor for these students. The main theme of this discussion was really wanting to see the world outside their windows. 

Sydney Barry, a senior software engineer and graphic design major studied abroad in Thailand through and organization called International Studies Abroad (ISA) and highly recommended her experience.

 “I did my study abroad in Thailand because I have always wanted to travel abroad, and I saw this as a great opportunity to do that and I could apply my financial aid to my program,” Barry said.

Another concern that came up for most when making the decision to go abroad was the cost of the program. With each program comes a different cost associated with said program. 

When asked in the panel discussion how the Education Abroad Department assists with financial aid, Litz was happy to provide some insight.

“The education abroad department helps students find scholarships resources and notifies them when certain scholarships become available. We also have program providers that award students scholarships. So it’s just a matter of knowing where to find them which we help with,” Litz said.

For students enrolled in an SDSU approved study abroad program and receiving state, federal or school sponsored loans, grants or scholarships, there is a high possibility for financial assistance. More information can be found at www.sdstate.edu/admissions/office-financial-aid/study-abroad.

Though the application process for study abroad can appear tedious and sometimes difficult, the education abroad department does assist with the filing process. Partnering with an advisor with any questions or concerns is recommended.

“The office of Education Abroad will assist with the application process in terms of assisting with filling out the application once you have decided on a program. We will also help you file your application for a passport if needed and we help with the visa application as well,” Litz said.

Some other concerns when considering studying abroad, are the options available for coursework as well as internships. It is completely up to students on what classes they would like to take. Some students take courses for specific major requirements but some students want to take random electives like cooking classes because they want a cultural experience.

Internships are a bit more focused on specific majors and the desired professional experience gained. Sometimes students will do internships outside their majors, but it is not quite as common. 

Another subject that came up on the panel was housing. About 95% of the time, the study abroad organizations will provide housing. If a student chooses an SDSU exchange program that doesn’t provide housing, the organization does help the student find housing and are very hands on.

“The only program you would need to figure out your housing would be on one of our SDSU exchange programs but the university and the place you are staying overseas will provide you with the resources to find housing like housing websites and they will help you fill out any paperwork you will need,” said Litz.

In the closing of this panel, the issue of COVID-19 arose. Right now students can not study abroad next semester. 

“We are taking it day by day. The provost will make a decision mid January about summer sessions. If you signed up for a program and paid for it we will work with your program on getting you a refund,” Litz said.

Litz assures that as soon as it is safe to travel, she would highly recommend studying abroad and the opportunity it offers students.

“No matter what you decide, going abroad is the best way to see the world and your education through a different lens,” Litz said.