Study Abroad offers benefits for students with wanderlust

While making summer plans for the next few months, the Office of International Affairs urges students to consider studying abroad.

According to the South Dakota State Study Abroad website, international experience is not only fun, but it is a way of setting people apart from other applicants when students enter the increasingly competitive job market.

According to Briana Litz, a study abroad advisor with the office of international affairs, 170 SDSU students will be able to put studying abroad on their resume this summer. These students have picked one of the 600 programs SDSU offers in more than 70 different countries. Students work with the International Affairs Office to really make their experience theirs, and, according to Litz, students usually return with a newfound sense of independence, problem solving and adaptability.

Dylan Little, a junior pre-medicine major, can attest to all the skills that can be gained during a study abroad excursion.

Little and two other students were able to take a month long program to Mumbai, India July 2014. There, the three individuals got to experience over one hundred hours of surgery observation and shadowing. Because India doesn’t have HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) that protects client confidentiality. According to Little, his experience was something unlike anything offered in the United States.

“We were in the room, right by the table,” Little said. “At one point, we even got to put gloves on and touch the muscles as they were operating.”

In addition to that, the students got to take pictures while the surgery was underway. “One of the surgeons even asked us to record one of them. It was an emergency tracheotomy,” Little said. This opportunity made him extremely passionate about his future career. “I’m going into surgery now. I’m 100 percent sure.”

This is only one example of what the International Affairs office has to offer.

Jacklyn Jencks, a senior journalism major and global ambassador for SDSU, did an exchange program to Australia for a semester her sophomore year. Then, to get a science credit, she decided to travel to Florence, Italy for a month.

“SDSU does a great job of helping students find what classes will be interesting, but also which ones can work with your needed credits to graduate on time,” Jencks said.

Litz works with students to help them fulfill their wanderlust.

“I try to be really proactive with students and look at their academic plan,” Litz said. “I see what classes they need a semester they want to go abroad and try to match those classes overseas, so it doesn’t delay their graduation. It’s a goal of mine to make sure we’re not delaying their graduation because I don’t think you should be punished for studying abroad”

In addition to working with students that want to graduate on time, she is knowledgeable about covering the costs associated with studying abroad.

Students can obtain scholarships as well as apply scholarships they already have like the Jackrabbit Guarantee and the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship to semester programs. There are even some exchange programs that cost the same as going to SDSU with the only extra payments like plane tickets and spending money for things like souvenirs.

Litz thinks the hardest part of studying abroad is just the getting used to being in a new place.

“Everyone goes through an adjustment phase. It is really difficult right away because you are going through this whole transition, but that is just part of the process. It’s just like when you come to SDSU,” Litz said. “Students have to go through this adjustment phase to figure everything out, but once they do the students love their time here.”

Little gives one last piece of advice to students considering the experience. “If you’re thinking about it, do it. It’s phenomenal. The benefits are uncountable. Try and make time for it.”