Study abroad students travel to Rome

Oakley Jandreau, Reporter

South Dakota State University’s Education Abroad programs are picking back up after the pandemic lull with many new opportunities, including a group of students currently studying in Rome.   

The university has many Education Abroad opportunities for students with any major, according to Sally Gillman, the director for Education Abroad at SDSU. Her office offers faculty-led programs, single student trips and many other options. 

Faculty-led programs are the most common, Gillman said. In this situation, an SDSU faculty member travels with students to another country to teach them an SDSU course.  

Some faculty-led programs are short, taking place during spring break, while others are longer. Most are three-weeklong trips, but they can be up to seven weeks, especially language-based programs, Gillman said.  

Before the pandemic, there were 501 SDSU students who participated in an education abroad trip in 2019. Post pandemic, the numbers have been lower, as expected, according to Gilman. Many universities across the nation have experienced the same decrease. 

“Looking at the fall 2021 and spring 2022 school year, our numbers will not be great, but we are building back and looking at new opportunities for our students,” Gillman said.

There are 1,012 locations available to students. 

“Students can travel almost anywhere,” Gillman said. “Our Health and Safety Committee looks at some locations as dangerous or unsafe, but other than that, we can always find a fit for the students.” 

Many countries are also reopening without many restrictions, Gillman said. 

“South Dakota State University does not require students to have the COVID-19 vaccine, but some countries require it, which has been a slight hurdle at times,” Gillman said. 

SDSU is always looking for new partnerships and opportunities that will benefit students, according to Gillman. The Education Abroad and International Affairs offices have many options for students. They prioritize finding the best opportunity for each student. 

She added that the life experience students gain from studying abroad is worth the effort. 

“Education abroad is something that employers value,” she said. “Students demonstrating that they could go abroad, live like a local and have the self-confidence to do so is very important. It matters for the degree you are working to attain and later in life for the employers.” 

A group of SDSU students recently got back from a program in South Africa. This summer, there are programs to London, Italy, Canada, Costa Rica, Spain and Turkey. 

Currently, there are students studying abroad in Rome. Sophomore Lainey Aasby left for Italy’s capital city at the beginning of the new year and will return to South Dakota in May. 

When studying abroad, there are three blocks students can fill with classes. Aasby chose to spend her first two blocks in Rome and her last block in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“The trip to Italy has been great. I live and study in Rome, but have traveled all over,” Aasby said. “I have been to Florence, Venice, Naples, Pompeii, Pisa, Milan, Como, Tiyoi, La Spezia (Cinque Terre), Vienna and Austria so far.” 

Aasby also explained why she chose to study abroad. 

“I wanted to go on an adventure, and this was a great way to do so,” she said. “It hasn’t been easy being gone for so long, but I have grown a lot as a person.” 

Aasby and a few other students were involoved in the Council on International Educational Exchange provider program, where they flew to Italy themselves and moved in with other U.S. college students with similar goals and personalities. 

Another SDSU student who studied abroad was Carleen Burger. Burger filled her 18 weeks and three blocks completely in Rome. 

“When you study in one place for 18 weeks, you have to get a visa,” Burger said. 

Students have been busy working on school, but they have prioritized getting the full travel experience as well. Burger said she is taking some interesting classes.

“We have three-hour-long classes that are Monday through Thursday with two special Friday classes. The Friday classes are field trips that we either do as a group or on our own,” she said.

Gillman said studying abroad might seem daunting at first, but most students come to love it.

“Many people focus on how hard it will be to study abroad, but often what happens is tremendous growth and development,” Gillman said. Many students change their mind and can’t believe they are living their best life.  

“It doesn’t matter where you go for education abroad. It’s the process that is a rite of passage,” Gillman said. “This fuels your self-confidence, abilities to adapt and problem-solving skills.”