Studying abroad experience provides opportunities for personal growth

Geography Department Chair Francis Koti sketches for now-alumni Jess Morgan (left) and Alison Brackin during the 2011 Tanzania study abroad program near Arusha, Tanzania.  “In today’s globalizing world, you need to be able to learn how to interact with people from different places,” Koti said. “What is a better way to learn than to go to that country?”

The university is ahead of the trend when it comes to students studying abroad.

Two percent of UNA’s student population is studying abroad, which is higher than the national average of 1.5 percent, said Director of International Affairs Craig Christy.

Christy said experiential learning, which can be an internship or studying abroad, is the cause of this increase.

“In fact, employers value experiential learning higher nowadays than they do (grade point average),” he said. “It shows that you got your hands dirty and that you actually worked in the real world.”

Studying abroad will stand out on a resume when it comes to finding a job, said Francis Koti, department chair of Geography.

“In today’s globalizing world, you need to be able to learn how to interact with people from different places,” he said. “What is a better way to learn than to go to that country?”

In an email, senior Daylan Pellum said studying abroad could help students with future jobs.

“The trip will help you with career choices as you will deal with many instances of things that are used, made by or tailored to jobs that are offered at UNA,” he said.

Senior Miracle Osborne said studying abroad in Spain helped expand her knowledge of the language.

“Since I’m a language major, there was no better way to practice my Spanish or advance my Spanish skills than being forced to be immersed in it,” she said.

Pellum said his trip to Peru changed his ideas about the world.

“We as humans differ in many ways but yet are all still the same,” he said. “My eyes were opened to the fact that no matter what language, or tongue, food is a universal language that can be understood and accepted by all.”

Students can either study abroad by going on a faculty-led trip or a semester abroad trip, Christy said.

Assistant Professor of Counselor Education Miranda Parries said she is leading a trip to Italy this summer.

“This is the first faculty-led trip to Italy this department has had,” she said. “As of right now, only students who are taking classes in our program can join the trip.”

Parries said she is currently looking to see if she can open the trip up to other majors.

Koti said his trip to Tanzania during the summer is open to anyone.

Osborne said she is going to Cuba through the University of Alabama at the end of January.

The semester abroad trip to Cuba first began in Spring 2015 due to a partnership between UNA and UA, according to the department of foreign languages’ newsletter Global Talk.

Students will learn from lectures but also peers during their study in Italy, said Parries.

“The students will be exposed to other universities’ and states’ teaching styles because they will be spending two weeks with those students,” she said. “Every job field we have here they have. The students will get to learn the different methods found in other countries.”

Osborne said engaging with other people will make a difference.

“It doesn’t matter if they’re locals or from the same country as you, just engage them because you never know what life lesson you’re going to learn from that moment,” she said.