Adventures Abroad: studying outside the U.S.

Five minutes before boarding, Carolina Paz, a UTSA public relations major, is in gate 26 of the San Antonio International Airport. Her heart is pounding wildly. The voice in the microphone startles her.
“Passengers to Madrid, Spain will begin boarding now.”
She takes a deep breath and stands up to approach her new destination. In her 22 years of life, she has never been so excited.
The world is becoming more international and globalized by the day. People are becoming more immersed and integrated in different cultures and worldviews. Now, it is almost a necessity to be culturally diversified in order to be successful in the working field. So what better way to gain international knowledge and perspective than to study in a completely different country?
Whether it be a few weeks or a full year, the growth and knowledge acquired by studying abroad cannot be compared to any other experience. Studying abroad is, for many, one of the most rewarding experiences in their lifetime.
Students generally believe that studying abroad is unreachable, expensive and even impossible, but those adventurous souls who dare to ask will find that the studying abroad services at UTSA help students make this experience easy and affordable.
Students may be surprised to know that their regular financial aid automatically transfers to a study abroad program. In many cases, especially in countries in South America, school tuition is comparable to that of the tuition in the U.S.
UTSA also offers countless scholarships and grants to students who travel abroad. These scholarships range from regular institutional scholarships (such as UTSA scholarships) to federal scholarships or those from independent organizations such as third party programmers.
Another student concern is whether credit earned abroad will transfer back to UTSA. “Yes,” states Lori Richardson, UTSA study abroad advisor. “Courses DO transfer back. However, it is the student’s responsibility to see their advisor here at UTSA to confirm that the transfer credit can be applied to their specific degree plan.”
With over 2,000 programs available, students can choose to travel to a multitude of different places around the world for as little as two weeks or as long as an entire calendar year.
UTSA studying abroad services provide programs for every academic major and for students who have at least 30 credit hours. Students can choose from three different styles of programs: faculty-lead programs (UTSA faculty takes students abroad), abroad direct exchanges (student exchanges places with a foreign exchange student) or third party program providers (studying abroad at the qualified university for a year or a semester). Internships are also offered at certain universities and in some cases, universities offer paid internships.
The UTSA studying abroad services offers programs almost anywhere in the world as long as the U.S. State Department does not issue a travel warning. This means that if a country is going through any sort of dangerous situation that can possibly harm the student or risk the student’s well-being, the university will not arrange a study abroad program with that particular country. However, most countries are usually safe and available.
Here at UTSA, the most popular countries of choice are England, Spain and Italy. However, students can also study in countries such as Canada, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand and even Hong Kong.
What about language barriers? If you are not going to Canada, England or Australia, you will most likely be living in a country where people only know elementary English, if any.
So do students need to know other languages to study abroad? Richardson explains, “We have several programs where students can go to a non-English speaking country and take their main courses in English. They also have the option of taking a foreign language course there.”
“The experience of exploring and understanding another country, different people and a different culture allowed me to find a new passion and perspective that prepared me for a better understanding of the world,” Ricky Martinez, a former UTSA student, says about studying abroad in Shanghai in the fall of 2011. “The time spent during my semester abroad truly changed me as an individual.”
Marisol De La Fuente, another UTSA student currently studying in Madrid, Spain, also says that “Studying abroad has changed my perspective towards life. I see the world in a whole different way now. I have come to realize that many of the things I thought were important really don’t matter at all, and today, I value a lot of things I took for granted.”
Living in a different country will most likely benefit students personally, academically and professionally. Richardson explains, “Countless benefits come from studying abroad. It is an incredible resume-builder that makes students more available for employers. And it is also excellent for personal growth. Every aspect of their life will advance and bring them more opportunities.”
Currently studying in Madrid, Paz remembers the day she boarded the plane in San Antonio. Her face brightens up with a smile. She has no regrets.
“You only get these chances once in a lifetime, so don’t even think of it twice. We are young, so we should travel before our real life starts.”