Study abroad offers variety of opportunities, experiences

Going to another country may be intimidating, but studying abroad allows students the opportunity to travel, gain academic credit and experience a different part of the world.

South Dakota State University offers more than 600 study abroad programs in more than 70 countries, said Briana Litz, study abroad adviser.

Study abroad experiences can be a week long during Spring Break, during the summer or for a semester. Programs include faculty-led opportunities where students travel to a country with an SDSU faculty and SDSU student.

“[Faculty-led programs are] an easier way for them to kind of connect with idea of studying abroad,” Litz said. “Studying abroad can seem quite intimidating. It’s not. Anyone can do it, but I think it’s a good first step toward study abroad because you have people who are in the same situation as you.”

Other programs include exchange programs where students attend a university in a different country, pay SDSU tuition and pay the housing and food at the university in the other country.

“It’s a great option that I’m surprised is not more popular, but it requires quite a bit of independence,” Litz said.

Another option is going through a provider program, which is what sophomore nursing major Elin Ellefson did.

She studied abroad for one semester in Valencia, Spain.  Ellefson wanted to study abroad in high school, so her first semester at college she found out what her options were regarding study abroad. Due to her study abroad, she had to delay nursing school for one semester.

Students who are in a rigorous program like nursing or pharmacy can go on summer study abroad instead of a semester-long program, Litz said.

Litz and Ellefson agreed money should not be an obstacle when it comes to study abroad. There are scholarships available for students, and they can use their financial aid to pay for their study abroad, Litz said.

“You can always pay back money, which is what I learned on the trip,” Ellefson said.

Ellefson encouraged students to go on their own study abroad experience.

“College is very flexible whereas if you were older you’re going to have a job,” Ellefson said.

Shania Meier was originally not scheduled to study abroad, but the sophomore business economics major said it was one of the best decisions she has made.

Meier said she wanted to study abroad to have new experiences and be part of a new culture.

She encouraged students to study abroad, but she thinks students should adapt to the culture they are living.

“When you first arrive make sure to do all the touristy stuff right away because after that you are no longer a tourist, but a traveler,” Meier said. “I honestly think of myself as a Berliner now and I think of Berlin as a second home.”