Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

    Students get a taste of Europe while studying abroad

    While traveling across Europe, it is easy to get caught up in an atmosphere that is so unlike our own back here in the states. While most United States citizens visit Europe as tourists, soaking up the sights and sounds of other cultures, a select few students try to do the same while also maintaining their grades in school.

    “Sometimes it gets hard because you’re so used to things happening one way, that once it’s changed and you have to live your life for four months a different way, it gets a little frustrating,” said Bryana Koch, a junior majoring in Communication Studies and Public Relations.

    Hearing from several different students, it is clear that no two people have the same experiences while studying abroad. Andrew Stere, a sophomore majoring in Computer Science and French, studied with the UA in France program in the summer of 2015. He, along with the other students in the program, went to class at an institute in Tours, France.

    “The institute would use the European grading scale, which is much more strict here,” he said. “A 15 out of 20 is a good grade [there], as opposed to being a C here.”

    Koch, who is currently studying in London, explained the surprise she experienced when she realized what the course load was going to be like abroad. She is a member of the American Institute for Foreign Study study abroad program.

    “Surprisingly, I thought it wasn’t going to be as strenuous because I am a study abroad student,” said Koch. “But, I’m also at an international university with students who go here full time.”

    While being a part of a study program is a tough task to take, it has many upsides. You can learn things you would never learn in the states, become more independent as a person, and see some of the world’s most famous sights.

    Jon Vincent, a senior majoring in Chemical Engineering, was a part of a study abroad program in Ireland in the spring of 2014.

    “One of the classes I did take for instance, was this Irish Culture class and that was really interesting because, well, I was learning about something I had never learned about before,” said Vincent.

    Worrying about school while also having to adapt to your environment in another country is a multi-tasking feat that can make people’s head spin, so luckily study abroad programs help to ease that process. Koch discussed how helpful both schools he attended were in lending a hand during the transfer process.

    “The transition was really nice, because they had their US representative in America, who is helping you get all of your stuff done before you go over,” said Koch. “It’s nice because they want to see you succeed.”

    Stere, Koch, and Vincent all agreed that their study abroad programs will be something that sets them apart in the future. All three of them plan to use their experiences overseas to help better themselves in their future job searches.

    “It looks good on a resume because you have more experience, not necessarily in a specific job or in a specific career, but you have more experience with people skills and different cultures, adapting really quickly, thinking on the spot, and I feel like future employers would see that as a benefit,” said Koch.

    Different programs have different arrangements on how to house their students. Some students live in dorms as students of a foreign university, while others live in housing sites offered by the programs themselves. However, there are also programs, such as the UA in France program that sets students up with host families to house them.

    “We were paired with a host family, so we had basically host parents,” said Stere. “I had a host mother and dad and they’re responsible for feeding us for breakfast and mainly dinner.”

    Stere studied abroad in an area southwest of Paris, and was given the opportunity to explore the many different chateaus in the area, in addition to a trip to Normandy, France. Koch has been to Paris thus far this semester, and plans to be travelling to Iceland whenever she gets the chance.

    Vincent had the opportunity to see one of the oldest historical sites in all of Europe.

    “I got to go to Newgrange, and basically it’s a big mound, about 50 or 90 feet tall, and it’s one of those things where the winter solstice lines up perfectly and lights it up,” said Vincent. “That’s actually older than the Great Pyramids, and that was just an impressive thing to see.”

    Vincent also explained that one of his favorite parts of his time in Europe was the walking tours he went on. He said that on one of his walking tours, he was shown the site of an old bunker in Berlin where Adolf Hitler stayed. According to him, a parking lot was built over the bunker, so you wouldn’t be able to tell what was formerly there.

    Being a tourist in Europe while also living there has its upsides, but it is important to be money-conscious as well. Although Stere lived with a host family in France, he was still responsible for getting lunch while studying at the institute.

    “The main things you had to pay for, out of pocket, were lunches and if you went out. So I could keep it under $10 a day,” said Stere. “The biggest cost was if you were buying some things for your family.”

    Sometimes, students take the time to visit local markets and cook for themselves, like in Vincent’s case in Ireland.

    “I would just walk to the shopping market that was about a half a mile away, get food, and walk it back,” said Vincent.

    Stere, Koch, and Vincent all agree that studying abroad was one of the best decisions they have ever made, and recommend it to any students who are interested in the future.

    “It’s less that I went to Ireland, it’s more I went somewhere outside of the country. Being able to experience somewhere different than the United States is just what makes study abroad special,” said Vincent. “It’s less about where you go, and more that you do go.”

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