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Panel weighs perks of studying abroad

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Georgia Blanchard

Chief Copy Editor

To kick off International Education Week, Troy’s study abroad program hosted a panel discussion with five students involved in study abroad programs to discuss the differences in cultures and classes in the United States and other countries.

Sarah McKenzie, the study abroad coordinator, put together the panel and moderated the discussion, offering questions and more information about Troy’s international programs.

The students on the panel discussed the various challenges study abroad programs present, from language barriers to academic structures that were different from those in the United States.

“One of the biggest differences is that we only have one final exam; we don’t have exam one, exam two, exam three, exam four and then assignments,” said Dennis Ecker, a senior global business major from Kaiserslautern, Germany. 

“After my first class, I was a bit shocked, because I had to start working from the beginning of the course.”

Jinju Ha, a senior business major from Seoul, South Korea, also highlighted the differences in test structure from her home university to Troy. 

“It’s a little different because Korea does two tests for one semester,” Ha said. “Here, there are many tests and assignments.”

While some of the students on the panel focused on studying during their trips, others chose to take fewer credit hours, so they could travel more. 

Nigel Dollentas, a sophomore economics major from Helena, spent a semester in Seoul, Korea and planned his course load accordingly.

“I took 12 (credit hours) because I knew I wanted to travel, and obviously the biggest thing is Seoul,” Dollentas said. 

“I always felt like I was made for more than (Alabama), and when I got to Seoul, I was like, ‘This is it.’” 

Shelby Williamson, a senior Spanish major from Chelsea, said one of her favorite parts of studying abroad was the amount of time she got to spend forming relationships with other people her age in a different country. 

“I studied this past semester abroad in Zaragoza, Spain, and I can’t imagine having done it any other way,” Williamson said. “All the things I experienced, the people I met and the habits I got to form doing an exchange program –    it’s a great way to really connect.” 

According to Alex Foxx, a graduate student studying business from Montgomery, the most challenging part of his short trip was the students’ attempt to learn Mandarin.

“Most of us, like me, had no idea it was a tonal language, so we were pretty shook up by that,” Foxx said. “I’m super grateful for the things I did, but I think getting the immersive experience would have been really good. 

“You can only get so much culture in two, three weeks.”

Williamson said the key to being prepared for study abroad trips, especially those longer than just a few weeks, is to start planning early.

“It was a little hard getting all my documents in on time,” Williamson said. “I had to fly all the way to Houston to get my student visa.”

Ecker encouraged all Troy students to study abroad if possible, whether in Germany or elsewhere. 

“I recommend it to everybody,” Ecker said. “You should go somewhere at least once in your life. 

“It will change your life, your behavior and your whole mindset.”

“I studied this past semester abroad in Zaragoza, Spain, and I can’t imagine having done it any other way,” Williamson said. “All the things I experienced, the people I met and the habits I got to form doing an exchange program –    it’s a great way to really connect.” 

According to Alex Foxx, a graduate student studying business from Montgomery, the most challenging part of his short trip was the students’ attempt to learn Mandarin.

“Most of us, like me, had no idea it was a tonal language, so we were pretty shook up by that,” Foxx said. “I’m super grateful for the things I did, but I think getting the immersive experience would have been really good. 

“You can only get so much culture in two, three weeks.”

Williamson said the key to being prepared for study abroad trips, especially those longer than just a few weeks, is to start planning early.

“It was a little hard getting all my documents in on time,” Williamson said. “I had to fly all the way to Houston to get my student visa.”

Ecker encouraged all Troy students to study abroad if possible, whether in Germany or elsewhere. 

“I recommend it to everybody,” Ecker said. “You should go somewhere at least once in your life. 

“It will change your life, your behavior and your whole mindset.”

“I studied this past semester abroad in Zaragoza, Spain, and I can’t imagine having done it any other way,” Williamson said. “All the things I experienced, the people I met and the habits I got to form doing an exchange program –    it’s a great way to really connect.” 

According to Alex Foxx, a graduate student studying business from Montgomery, the most challenging part of his short trip was the students’ attempt to learn Mandarin.

“Most of us, like me, had no idea it was a tonal language, so we were pretty shook up by that,” Foxx said. “I’m super grateful for the things I did, but I think getting the immersive experience would have been really good. 

“You can only get so much culture in two, three weeks.”

Williamson said the key to being prepared for study abroad trips, especially those longer than just a few weeks, is to start planning early.

“It was a little hard getting all my documents in on time,” Williamson said. “I had to fly all the way to Houston to get my student visa.”

Ecker encouraged all Troy students to study abroad if possible, whether in Germany or elsewhere. 

“I recommend it to everybody,” Ecker said. “You should go somewhere at least once in your life. 

“It will change your life, your behavior and your whole mindset.”

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