UNA students study abroad for cultural experience

According to US News and World Report, the top two things employers are looking for are internships and study abroad experience.

UNA can take students around the world through their study abroad programs. This kind of experience can be a major factor that separates some job candidates from others.

The length of trips can range from a week to an entire year. Some trips are stationary, meaning the students spend most of their time in one city and are able to get familiar with their surroundings. Others are very migratory, where the students hop from one locale to another, trying to see as much as they can.

Sophomore Haleigh Scott said she spent a month in London researching burlesque shows.

“My favorite thing about the city was the culture­, especially the food,” she said.

While she was not very fond of her room there, she said she would take it in a heartbeat to return to London. Scott is planning to spend a semester in South Korea next year.

Junior Brandon Brown went to Tanzania for his study abroad course.

“I didn’t want to go with the norm, to go to Europe, and I wasn’t really interested in Asia,” he said.

Brown said he would not trade this experience for anything else and studying with students there was a phenomenal experience.

He also said he would love for other students to take advantage of the study abroad opportunities UNA has to offer.

“A lot of people at UNA are from Alabama and have never left the Southeast, ” he said. “I think going to Africa throws you into a completely different environment, but it is really good and healthy for you because you get to learn a lot more.”

If someone is feeling more adventurous, he or she may even consider living an entire semester in a country like senior Miracle Osborne. Osborne spent a semester in Spain through the Magellan Exchange Program.

“It was hard in the beginning when the shock factor set in, but a month into it, it felt like home,” she said. “Leaving and not returning at the end of June was hard.”

Osborne said during her time there, she was able to travel around Europe to other major cities like Rome and Paris.

Craig Christy, director of the Center for Global Engagement, allows students to study abroad at the same expense as UNA.

Christy said studying abroad is important and it should be a requirement.

“We live in a global age, and you can’t say you have a global perspective if you’ve never left your hometown, home state or home country,” he said.

Christy said during one of his summer SOAR presentations he found out both students and parents are eager to learn about the study abroad opportunities at UNA.

“Last summer I had one family who had already been to different universities on summer orientation visits,” he said. “Upon exiting, the father came over to me and said, ‘(my family and I) just decided on UNA when I heard you have the Magellan Exchange Program.’”

Christy said he highly recommends study abroad to all students regardless of discipline.

“If you’re going to be sensitive to the dimensions of globalization, you need a broader perspective than just one country, one state or one city,” he said. “You need to have some appreciation for the mechanics of global interconnection.”

Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages Claudia Vance mostly accompanies faculty lead trips. She said these trips are life changing for students.

“Some of them have barely been outside of the South, much less outside of the United States,” she said. “It is the first time that many of them have experienced a new culture, a new way of thinking and perspective, and have experienced culture shock.”

Vance said the students come back changed for the better, and it is worth it.

Vance said she would encourage students to study abroad.

“I recommend students to study abroad in any way that they can,” she said. “While the students are young, not married with children or tied down to a job, this is the time in your life to do this.”