Long-term benefits of long-term study abroad
By Lily Erb, Co-Opinion Editor
A long-term study abroad program, such as a semester or full year, can offer more benefits to a student’s international learning experience than short-term programs.
Unlike faculty-led short-term programs, long-term programs send the student out on their own. According to Coordinator of Overseas Programs Rachael Becker, a student studying abroad on their own can learn self-reliance, leadership, independence and self-confidence, all valuable skills.
“Learning how to problem-solve over four months on your own versus with your group of friends and a faculty leader, you can see the difference,” Becker said.
Long-term programs also offer students more time to immerse themselves in a culture, whereas Winter Terms only give students three weeks. This is exactly what inspired first-year Alyson Rosemary Dentz to apply to study in Spain as a long-term venture.
“The only way to truly understand a new place is to be fully immersed in their culture and live as a local for as long as possible,” Dentz said. “Getting acclimated to a new environment cannot be done in a span of three weeks.”
Studying abroad for a whole semester doesn’t have to be an extra financial burden on students. Dentz chose to study abroad through the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), which allows students to pay the same amount as a regular semester at Eckerd. The ISEP also allows students to keep any Eckerd scholarships.
According to Becker, outside scholarships are generally available for study abroad programs which are 21 days or longer. While scholarships are available for Winter Terms, most students studying abroad for Winter Term programs are not eligible for these scholarships.
The application process should not be a deterrent for applying to long-term study abroad programs. According to Dentz, her application process was fairly simple.
“There wasn’t an essay. You just fill out basic personal information, hit apply, and stress out during the waiting process,” Dentz said.
Studying abroad for a whole semester can also work with your degree plan. According to Becker, as long as you get a C-or better, credits from studying abroad will transfer over to Eckerd. However, students should remember to remain in contact with their mentor while planning courses to make sure they count toward the degree.
Eckerd students are lucky to live in an environment which pushes them to leave their comfort zones and explore the world. Whether to do a long-term or a short-term study abroad program is up to the student, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each. Long-term study abroad programs can offer learning experiences and benefits that short-term programs lack.
Short-terms think outside of the Eckerd bubble
By Erin Matozel, Assistant Opinion Editor
Eckerd offers a wide range of both domestic and international travel for students during the fall, winter and spring. For students who don’t have the opportunity to study for a full semester, these one-to-three week trips are packed full of benefits.
Associate Dean of Continuing Education Amy Apicerno has led a trip to New Mexico for the past three years for Winter Term. During this trip, students had the opportunity to experience the culture of two different Native American tribes in the area, as well as hone their photography and silversmithing skills.
“The experience is really special at Ghost Ranch, especially for students who are not familiar with the dramatic landscapes of that part of the country or the many cultures presented there,” Apicerno said.
A concern for these trips is that students cannot fully immerse themselves in that particular culture, whether that is domestic or international. This is not true, as even a short three weeks is enough time to allow for cultural immersion.
Sophomore Diana Blecher spent her Winter Term in Ecuador for a Spanish language immersion program. During the trip, she took classes and went on excursions to learn the ins and outs of the community.
“I definitely felt fully immersed,” Blecher said. “We dove right in. I got to see the different classes, how people function, the different mannerisms they have in the culture and what is important in their culture.”
The study abroad trips provide financial aid to students through Eckerd, which is extremely useful for students who are weary of spending a lot of money for a short period of time. Even though these scholarships do not apply for the domestic trips, students still have the opportunity to save money due to the fact that they range in price, and domestic trips require less expenses in regard to air travel.
These short-term trips also provide either class credit, service learning hours or perspective credit for students in a shorter period of time.
“Just like if you took a pottery class or a photography class here, obviously the landscape is much different, but you get credit for doing the same thing you would here. And the rest of it is the cultural programing,” Apicerno said.
One-to-three weeks is a great span of time for students who have never traveled far away or outside of the country before. It allows students who may be wary of studying abroad for a long period of time to dip their toes in the water of travel.
“They’re absolutely worth it. You do get to fully experience the different cultures,” Blecher said. “It’s definitely a way to get away from the normal routine or the United States and get an understanding of other cultures and places around the world.”