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Are students interested in studying abroad?

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Alyse Nelson
Assistant Features Editor

After pledging to more than triple its study abroad rate in the next five years, Troy University has cancelled a study abroad trip to Spain.
At a time when Troy plans to raise its study abroad rate from a little over 2 percent to 9 percent by 2019, many would assume that entails creating and funding new opportunities for students.
However, in recent weeks a trip to Spain was canceled, barring some students from going abroad at all this summer, while others have joined other trips going to Costa Rica or Cuba.
Savannah Hill, a sophomore English major from Eva, was slated to go to Spain but has been moved to the Costa Rica trip.
“I was interested in the culture of Spain,” Hill said, who had planned to stay several weeks longer to see more of Europe. “It was something new that I wasn’t familiar with at all.”
“I mean, I’m definitely disappointed to not be going to Spain and Europe, but I’m not disappointed to be able to go to Costa Rica,” Hill said, pointing out that the Costa Rica trip is only about half the length that the Spain trip was planned to be.
In the end, it has worked out for Hill, though she admits to the process being “frustrating.”
“I’ve been talking to Dr. Sherry about the France trip. Maybe I’ll visit Spain then. The main reason I wanted to go to Spain is to finish out my minor and I’ll be doing that this summer in Costa Rica. Of course, I still want to see Spain.”
There has been speculation over the reason behind the trip cancellation, but Curtis Porter, vice chancellor for International Affairs, has an answer.
“We try to hold the study abroad trips to a minimum of ten students and I think at the point that that one was canceled, there were only five and there was not much possibility,” he said, noting that he was not sure of the exact number of students intending to go, but that it was below what the university normally takes.
Porter clarified that cancelling the Spain trip had nothing to do with the recent resignation of Orlando Pacheco, director of Study Abroad.
“The trip had been cancelled before he resigned,” Porter said.
Now, as this cycle of international opportunities comes to a close, it appears that our international program, Troy Abroad, is ending at least one trip short and with temporary faculty to replace the director that has resigned.
Hope has certainly not been lost, though.
“We’re doing everything we can. And we’re going to keep doing it. And we’re not giving up,” Porter said.
It would even seem that this mishap has not derailed Troy Abroad at all.
“Oh I’m sure there will be new opportunities next year,” Porter said. “We’re just finishing a cycle now.
“The Chancellor is extremely supportive; he knows how important it is.”
Porter notes, though, that a major problem lies not within the university’s responsibilities, but instead in the desires of the students. After all, the trip would not have been cancelled had enough students wanted to participate.
Porter emphasized how important studying abroad could be for the futures of Troy students as well students across the United States.
“There’s a sense, I think, in which we’re afraid that American kids are not going to be able to compete in the future because they just don’t know the world. They think whatever is in the U.S. is the only way that things can ever be done.
“And they need to have the study abroad experience. They need to go abroad earlier in their lives. They need to see that things aren’t done our way always – it’s called culture shock. They need culture shock. Culture shock makes you stronger.”
A common hurtle many students seem unwilling to jump is the possible expense of traveling overseas.
“I don’t plan on it, but I’m interested,” said Destiny Hosmer, a freshman secondary English education major from Enterprise. “I’m under the impression that it is expensive.”
Porter acknowledges that money seems to be a primary issue for those that want to study abroad but do not end up doing so. “It’s not that they can’t afford it, it’s that they don’t value it,” he said.
Porter said that there are many funding opportunities for those who do not feel that traveling internationally is financially within their reach.
“Troy offers so many possibilities for no additional tuition in Belgium, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, Korea,” he said, listing some of the countries in which Troy has partnered with other universities.
Troy also offers a $750 scholarship for those wishing to study abroad that could help with airfare and any living expenses while abroad.
Overall, Porter notes that studying abroad through Troy normally does not cost much more than studying in Troy.
But there are other reasons students are choosing not to go abroad, and those reasons vary from each individual.
“I’m not planning on it,” said Brandy Bell, a freshman graphic design major from Enterprise. “I can’t imagine being away from my family for that long.”
Porter persists, saying, “There’s so much and your life is changed so much by it.”
If you are interested in studying abroad or receiving more information about it, you can contact Morgan Till, interim Director of Study Abroad.
“If they’re going to go abroad, we want them to enjoy it,” Till said, explaining the services the office offers to students.
Till helps students with the entire process of studying abroad – from finding a program of interest that applies to the student’s course of studies to applying for scholarships, and even giving out travel information such as guidelines from the Center for Disease Control.
Till can be contacted at mtill@troy.edu to set up an appointment.
“If we can get you abroad,” Porter said, “we are going to have you come back a changed person and a different person. A person more interested in what we’ve got to offer.”