Troy University has a variety of study abroad opportunities for students.
“Study abroad helps students get a view of the world that they haven’t thought about before. Students who come back get more involved with international students, which improves interaction within the campus,” said Maria Frigge, director of study abroad.
She also added that students learn how international students feel after getting here and get more acquainted with them to make them feel more at home.
According to Frigge, 97 percent of students get a job on their first try and 25 percent of students get accepted to their preferred graduate schools after returning from studying abroad.
“However, some students struggle during their stay abroad because the grading system is usually more stringent, but some students like the new education system,” Frigge said. “They enjoy the fact that they are not assigned weekly homework and get more hands-on, practical experiences.
“Students learn to adapt to new situations.”
About students’ personal experiences, Frigge said that students get to see how other students look at the world and have different views about various issues. They learn about the different lifestyles of people from other countries, which is a new and great experience, according to Frigge.
Frigge also said that studying abroad helps students grow up, be more mature and learn to be on their own.
“Overall, it is a good experience,” Frigge said.
According to Frigge, technology is as equally available to the students studying abroad as it is in the United States. The universities in other countries also provide tools similar to Blackboard.
“Most of the students who go abroad don’t face communication problems because people speak English well,” Frigge said. “Although some countries have language barriers, students jump in and make an extra effort to learn their language and culture.”
Frigge also said that students get to learn to travel using public transportation, which is not as commonly used in the U.S.
“I think most students enjoy the differences in weather, food and culture, but at times, they seek the traditional. It is still good and bad since students learn to appreciate the new culture and food,” Frigge said. “As students travel, they get to know that people speak multiple languages and they feel enthralled to learn various languages too.”
Scott Warren MacCallum, a senior history major from Dothan, has recently taken one semester in Japan.
“I was there for three months. I was the only Westerner, so it was a new experience for me as well as them. The teachers also made sure I was comfortable,” MacCallum said about his initial experience.
According to MacCallum, since he was the only American, people were interested to meet and know him. The other international students knew English, so they were willing to talk to him, too.
“I was able to keep up my regular habits. The college campus was almost same as it is here, just a little smaller,” MacCallum said. “I usually run, so I found myself a running partner and ran in the mornings over there.”
“I learned eating with chopsticks a month before I left,” MacCallum said of his preparations for the semester abroad.
He said that he was able to communicate with his family via Skype, so he did not miss his family a lot. He earlier went to a college in America that was in a completely new place for him, so it wasn’t unusual for him to live apart from them in a different country. The only difference he felt while in Japan was the language.
“I didn’t feel unsafe or scared at any instance. I was constantly assured that the place where I was was a very safe area and I was also told that it had practically no crime,” MacCallum said. “Additionally, it was a retirement community ,so it was very genteel.”
According to MacCallum, the transportation facilities were cheap and convenient.
“Near where I lived, there were taxis, buses and trains. And then I could walk and ride a bike, too,” he added.
“Their cities were much more accessible with lots of people walking around and lots of transportation facilities which were readily available and affordable,” he said.
MacCallum also said that an important bit of information to know about Japan is that its convenience stores are popular and that almost every necessary item is available there.
“I went to the Nagasaki atomic bomb museum. I felt that place was very powerful,” he said. “Some people are still alive from 1945, and I had an opportunity to speak to one of them. What I felt after conversing with him was that it was a very sad experience for them, and it affected me emotionally, too.”
MacCallum took two classes on Japanese culture, two on Japanese language, one on Japanese pottery, two on Japanese history and one on Japanese tea ceremony.
“I enjoyed taking these classes very much. The classes were offered for international students, so it was a fun experience,” he said. “However, classes met once a week, so I had to do a lot of work outside of class.”
Now that he is back from Japan, MacCallum said that he misses his friends in Japan and the country a lot.