Studying abroad deemed ‘worth the effort’

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Abhigya Ghimire

Staff Writer

With the aim of helping students gain international awareness, global competency and skills to better compete in the worldwide job market, Troy University provides study abroad trips to countries all around the world.

Sarah McKenzie, the study abroad coordinator, guides students through the application process. Troy University provides two ways to study abroad, through exchange trips and faculty-led trips. While the exchange program is one to two semesters long, the faculty-led programs last for one to three weeks.

 

“While the 10-day to three-week-long trips are amazing, I feel as though it takes a couple of months to have a fuller understanding of the culture and people,” said Alex Foxx, a graduate business major from Montgomery and graduate assistant for the study abroad program. 

Foxx, who went on three faculty-led trips during his undergraduate years, said he regrets not doing a semester-long exchange.

Although the application process is the same for both programs, McKenzie said those applying for an exchange program should start by meeting with her. 

“We have an online application, and there are various things that you have to submit for both, but the exchange process is a little bit more complicated and there are more steps,” McKenzie said. “We need to figure out with (the university) if (students) will be able to take the classes they need at the university where they want to go. 

“Choosing your classes kind of determines which school you go to.”

McKenzie further explained that for the exchange programs, she has to nominate the prospective students for the program. The nomination process is in mid-March for the fall semester and around August-September for the spring semester. After the nomination process, the university contacts the students with further steps needed for the application process.

“If someone is considering studying abroad, they should start asking questions now,” said Lauren Conklin, a senior environmental science major from Athens. “There are so many great options and opportunities out there, through Troy and other programs, that are unique for college students. 

“Consider this time of life, where most students are young and unsettled with their careers or families — it’s a great time to travel and even live abroad.” 

Conklin spent the fall 2018 semester at Halmstad University in Sweden through Troy’s study abroad program.

When asked about what students are generally surprised about with the application process, McKenzie said they find that the visa process to be a bit tedious and complicated. 

“The other thing is that all of our partner schools want a copy of a bank statement showing that you have enough money to be able to live once you get there, and that can be a little difficult, but we can figure it out,” she said.

According to Foxx, the biggest problem is gaining parental support. 

“Many parents have never left the country and have no desire to allow their child to leave the country,” Foxx said.

Anh Nguyen, a junior accounting major from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, offered some practical advice for students looking to study abroad.

 “Make sure that you have cash with you because some of my friends had problems with their credit card,” Nguyen said. “Also, they charged extra fees to use American visa cards too, so cash is definitely easier.” 

Nguyen went on a three-week-long study abroad trip to China in summer of 2018. When asked about how different the study abroad program was from studying abroad here in Troy, Ngyuen said, “It’s a short trip so everything is quick, while studying in Troy is a process.”

“Studying abroad is worth it, yes,” Conklin said. “But there’s always an ‘if.’ 

“It’s worth it if it keeps you on your career path and doesn’t put you in too much debt. As far as the experience goes, it is definitely worth the effort. There are a lot of misconceptions that studying abroad is too expensive or it will put the student behind, and that’s just not always the case.”

The university has study abroad exchange programs with 17 universities around the world. There are also 20 faculty-led trips, five of which will be over spring break and the rest over summer break. The information regarding the study abroad programs can be found at https://troy-sa.terradota.com. McKenzie encourages students to visit her in her office located in 37 Hawkins Hall with any questions regarding the program.

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