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Studying Abroad

Studying Abroad

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Published by miriam_avila

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Published by: miriam_avila on Jul 17, 2009
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April 20, 2009Study AbroadYou can drive down Las Vegas Boulevard and visit casinos such as the Paris or the Luxor to get a taste of a different culture, but in order to get a true cultural experiencetraveling abroad is a must.The Office of International Programs at UNLV provides opportunities for studentsto study abroad for the semester, summer or year while receiving credit. There’s a widevariety of programs for students to choose from and more than 25 locations around theworld to visit. Assistant Director for Education Abroad, Ryan Larsen recommendsstudying abroad to every student at UNLV.“It’s the easiest time for someone to go away for a semester or a year. Once theygraduate it becomes harder to travel abroad because they get married, or have a career,”said Larsen.According to Larsen, studying abroad in college easier because assistance is giventhrough financial aid, loans or scholarships. They have such a wide variety of countries tochoose from. According to Larsen the most popular locations are Spain, Italy and CostaRica.Many students look at studying abroad as an unobtainable option. However thereare various opportunities students can and should take advantage of. One of the largestmisconceptions students have about the program is that they won’t be able to getfinancial aid and that they won’t be able to receive credits.
“As soon as I tell them they can acquire credits while abroad and that theycan access financial aid through FAFSA [Free Application for FederalStudent Aid] or that they could use their millennium, or apply for thescholarships offered through our office or through CSUN theyimmediately think ‘Oh I can do this,’” said Larsen.UNLV sophomore Susana Santana will be embarking on her journey to Viterbo,Italy, this summer. Her education will consist of Italian language and culture classes atL’universita de la Tuscia. Santana is excited to learn about the culture and has a brightview on the adventure to come.“You’re definitely going to grow a lot. You’re going to learn a lot. Irecommend it to everybody if they have the chance to study abroad, if theyhave the resources, because it’s definitely going to be a learningexperience and you’ll never forget it because it will impact your life, andwell, it changes you forever.”Santana said that although she feels nervous for what’s to come, she feels theassistance she received from the Office of International Programs is an essential part of her preparation.The Office of International Studies hosts four mandatory pre-departure orientationsessions, gives out a 116 page “Education Abroad Handbook,” a selection of guidebooks,sends updates, and offers an appointment with study abroad representatives in casestudents need help.
According to Larsen, UNLV is one of the few schools that have a multiplesession orientation. They cover getting a passport, student visa, how to access financialaid, money abroad, what to pack and health and safety abroad amongst various other topics.“I think we actually do quite a lot. In fact we might even do a lot of hand holding, perhaps more than we should, but I’d rather a student be prepared than unprepared.”Larsen says there comes a time when a student just has to go and make their ownmistakes and put into effect all the lessons they’ve learned at orientation.Santana feels that the education she received from the orientations will help her make fewer mistakes abroad. She said Larsen made the students feel comfortable withmaking mistakes and learning from them, so she’s prepared to make many, but knows itwill be okay.She also learned about the important stages of culture shock and says she’s preparing herself for them.In the “Education Abroad Handbook” it states that there are four stages of cultureshock. The first stage is euphoria, the time where everything is new and exciting. Thesecond stage consists of some frustration with different customs and the curiosity felt previously turns into depression or anger.USAC Alumni, Susan Taylor visited Heredia, Costa Rica in fall 2008 and recallsthis stage during her stay. She was used to driving a car in Las Vegas, so in Costa Ricashe was frustrated by having to take the bus everywhere. However, she remembersrecuperating from that stage and moving on to the next.

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