New Zealand is one of the many places you can study abroad. (Photo Courtesy of newzealand.com)
“It changed my life,” said Dr. Christopher Carlsmith, chair of the history department at UMass Lowell when talking about his experience studying abroad in Italy in his junior year at Stanford University. He says that it helped expose him to other cultures and see the world as much bigger than he thought before. Dr. Carlsmith also says that traveling abroad has increased his appreciation for countries outside of the U.S., and he expresses hope that his children and have a similar type of experience in their future.
Students can have the opportunity to learn more about study abroad at the International Experiences and Study Abroad Fair. According to different fliers and the Office of Study Abroad and International Experiences, the fair will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at the UCrossing Lobby.
“Study abroad, in general, is something that I think all students should have the opportunity to participate in and explore the opportunity,” said Emily Zeitsev, assistant director of the Office of Study Abroad and International Experiences. “I was excited to help the university grow the study abroad program, and since the office opened in 2012, we have seen a lot more growth and a lot more students study abroad.”
She says that the International Experiences and Study Abroad Fair will host partners that for students to talk with as well as other people who have done study abroad before to learn from first-hand experience what study abroad is like. This kind of experience was not the case when the study abroad program first started.
Zeitsev, says that before 2012, students could only get advising on study abroad on a part-time basis through the Centers for Learning. She says that in 2012, the Office of Study Abroad and International Experiences was established in UMass Lowell by Director Fern MacKinnon and herself.
Students can also find a lot of information about study abroad that can be found on the study abroad page on the UMass Lowell website, the study abroad website and the study abroad office at UCrossing 370.
The study abroad website offers a variety of different programs. The Study Abroad office also passes out fliers for students who visit and talk with either Mackinnon or Zeitsev. Many fliers provide many kinds of opportunities during the summer and winter periods to study abroad either with faculty-led program or a partner-led program. Zeitsev says that these programs are open to all students of all majors and backgrounds.
Dr. Carlsmith says that when he took Italian in college, he instantly fell in love with the language. He felt that it was reasonable for him to go to Italy and put it into practical use. He encourages his students that go to him to take a language study approach, so they can also learn more about their field of study in that countries’ native language.
Dr. Maria Matz, the chair of the world languages department and an associate professor of Latin American Studies and Cultures, said she believes in the practical elements of learning a language.
“You are going to do something with your language,” said Matz. “You are not going to be in a corner talking to yourself or experience [a] culture by yourself. It doesn’t make much sense.”
Dr. Matz says that she and the world languages department work together with the Office of Study Abroad and International Experiences to help answer students’ questions and to have the students learn more about the study abroad program.
A misconception that Zeitsev frequently hears about study abroad is that it is too expensive. The study abroad website and the homepage on the UMass Lowell website offers many scholarships and grants that students can apply to and receive. Zeitsev says that herself, Mackinnon and their team work consistently to provide students any financial help they need through scholarships, grants and through financial aid.
Dr. Carlsmith and Dr. Matz also said that their departments also work to provide information for students to receive scholarships or grants if the student needs help financially to study abroad.
Zeitsev says that she always encourages students who come in for an appointment at the office to at least think about studying abroad.
“I would just encourage all students to consider it whether it’s for a semester or for a short-term program,” said Zeitsev. “We do have short term programs over the summer or the winter that are as short as about two weeks so that’s a good opportunity if you’re not ready to commit a longer program just yet, but I would just encourage all students to look into it and consider it because it’s a life-changing experience.”