The benefits of studying abroad were on display as five Lander University students spoke about their experiences recently in conjunction with International Education Week (IEW) in November.
Katie Warnken, a math education major from North Augusta, said that studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland, "really brought me out of my shell."
Shyness was also an issue for Michael Jasso-Kelly, a Spanish/history major from Latta, who as a younger student kept to himself. "I would not talk to you," he said. Studying abroad in Madrid, Spain, gave him the shot of confidence he needed. "I wanted to come back and tell people about my experiences," he said.
Bre Butler was so apprehensive about leaving home to study at the University of Winchester in England that she didn't pack her bag until an hour before she got on the plane.
Like her peers, she said that the experience changed her - for the better. "Once you put yourself out there, you're definitely going to want to go back," Butler, an English education major from Bradley, said.
Maria Martinez-Villa, a native of South America, had already traveled abroad and felt none of the anxiety of her North American friends, but in other respects her experience was similar. "Phenomenal" was how Martinez-Villa, a psychology major minoring in French, described her stay in Aix-En-Provence, France.
"I want to go back and do my master's there if I can. I just love the town, it's so beautiful," she said.
Students often hear that they will never have another chance to study abroad if they don't do it now. That may or may not be true, according to Kathryn Spence, a psychology major from Columbia who studied in Rhodes, Greece, but she's convinced that "it's easier to travel now." She was enthusiastic about the prospect of going again. "Sign me up," she said.
International Education Week, co-sponsored by the offices of Campus Recreation and Intramural Sports and International Programs, exists not only to educate American students on the many opportunities abroad but also to highlight the diversity on U.S. campuses. Lander's observance of the event also included a presentation by its Chinese students, a handball tournament, country displays in the commons area of the cultural center and a United States/South Korea military alliance lunch.
Jeff Constant, director of International Students and Scholar Services for the Office of International Programs, called IEW "a chance to expose our students to a variety of cultures through multiple outlets. We are trying to provide information to promote globalization in an ever-shrinking world," he said.