North Texas Daily

Students explore world and pursue passions

Students explore world and pursue passions

Students explore world and pursue passions
November 11
00:17 2014

Kayleigh Bywater / Intern Writer

Passports, deposits, vaccines…oh my! The time has come for students to dust off their foreign language skills and apply to the continually growing study abroad program.

For decades, UNT has provided study abroad opportunities for students and faculty, allowing them to venture to new countries and learn more about their career field.

Amy Arikan recently joined UNT in September as the director of the study abroad office. Her job is to build a wide variety of cost-effective, worthwhile trips that students can go on in order for them to develop academically and as a person.

“Studying abroad can be a transformational experience for students,” Arikan said. “There are so many academic, professional and personal benefits tied to it, including the chance to develop leadership skills, confidence and communication. I have never had a student come and tell me that they regret studying abroad.”

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 The study abroad passport accepting facility is located at 236 Sage Hall. Photo by Evan McAlister – Staff Photographer

A wide variety

UNT has grown tremendously in its study abroad participation within the past few years. Arikan said that the university has seen a sharp rise of 15 percent between 2012 and 2014, and hopes that participation keeps growing from there.

“Only about 1.5 percent of our students choose to study abroad each year, which is close to the national average,” she said. “However, who wants to be average?”

Even though the rate of participation is increasing, Arikan said her goal was to not add more destinations than the university has now. With over 850 program options, students already have a plethora of trips to choose from.

There are traditional locations such as Italy, Spain and the U.K. and some of the newer programs include destinations such as Cuba and Iceland.

“Since we have so many choices, it can be overwhelming for students to find the program that is right for them,” Arikan said. “Instead of adding a whole lot of new destinations, we are focused on streamlining our program options to make it easier for students to identify the one that is right for them.”

Benefits for the future

Along with the skills that students can gain studying abroad, Arikan said the programs provide a great edge when it comes to the competitive job market.

Journalism junior Christian Boschult studied abroad last summer in London. With his group, he traveled all over the city and stopped at many sights, including the CBS London bureau. What started out as a simple trip to the bureau turned in to the opportunity of a lifetime, Boschult said.

He was able to talk to one of the producers at CBS, who wanted to interview Boschult for a potential internship at CBS London. Impressing them, he landed the internship for summer 2015.

“I got this amazing internship all because I studied abroad,” Boschult said. “Having study abroad under my belt and a job at CBS London will look great to any future job that I apply for, no matter the field. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.”

Along with building up a portfolio, students are able to explore countries and landmarks that they had never visited before. Journalism professor Neil Foote went as a faculty member on a study abroad program last year, and said that on weekends, students could go explore many different cultures and places around Europe.

“We had a ton of activities and tours planned for the students while they were in the United Kingdom,” Foote said. “However, we would finish classes on Thursdays, and from there students could really do what they wanted. One group of kids would go to Paris, while another group would go visit Spain. It was such an eye-opening experience for the students because they were able to take part in so many different cultures and broaden their horizons in the five weeks of the program.”

Beyond the expenses

For those worried about the expenses of study abroad, there are many different opportunities to obtain scholarships that go toward the trips. Journalism professor Tracy Everbach, a two-year veteran of study abroad, said she has had many students who got a substantial portion of their trip paid for from scholarships. 

“There are so many scholarships out there that students do not even know about,” Everbach said. “It is as easy as typing ‘study abroad scholarships’ in to Google. The key is to just be proactive about it. If they plan ahead, there are infinite ways to help fund these adventures.”

Along with online scholarships, Arikan said that the study abroad office distributes over $300,000 in scholarships and grants each year to students.

“I feel students should start saving their pennies, nickels, dimes and dollars in order to include some sort of study abroad in their course study,” Foote said. “It can be scary at first, but it is worthwhile to put themselves in a little bit of discomfort so that it can lead to an abundance of memories.”

Memories for a lifetime

From gaining more global knowledge to having a perk on a resume, UNT’s study abroad program grants endless possibilities for students. Fashion merchandising junior Kiera Landrum, who studied in London and Paris, urges everyone to take part in the program.

“I feel like if people are contemplating whether or not to study abroad, they should just ask themselves, ‘Why not?’” Landrum said. “They will not really have another chance like this again. You get to understand different perspectives and worldly views, and become more cultured in the process. There is more to the world than just Texas.”

If you are interested in studying abroad, there is a faculty-led fair on Tuesday, Nov. 18 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the BLB Atrium.

Featured Illustration: Three different locations that students can study abroad include England, Spain and Italy. Illustration by Jake Bowerman – Senior Staff Illustrator

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