OPINION: Study Abroad this school year

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Everyone’s encountered at least one student who has studied abroad and it’s all they can talk about when they get back. So what’s the big hype about studying abroad?!

Jennica Larson, a University of Arizona May 2019 graduate, was a part of the Eller program in Rome during the Spring 2018 term for a four-month program. She said that she was guilty of constantly talking about her trip abroad when she got back to the states.

“I feel that I learned so much about myself and European culture when I was abroad that I use examples from my time abroad when talking to people,” she said.

The University of Arizona offers just over 100 programs in more than 50 countries. The time periods range from two weeks to 10 months. There are programs offered all year long, offering UA and non-UA students many opportunities to study abroad.

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Executive Director at UA Study Abroad, Harmony DeFazio, said that the top two destinations are Spain and Italy with several programs within those countries.

There are three main program categories. Arizona Abroad Locations give students the opportunity to study at a partner university of the UA and pay regular UA tuition. With this program, students are able to choose from a variety of courses. UA faculty-led programs are organized and or taught by UA professors and staff. This program brings UA students together and earn direct credit. Exchange programs are where students attend a UA partner institution for a certain term and attend classes with local and international students. Through this program, students earn transfer credit that doesn’t go towards their UA GPA.

Eligibility requirements vary by program, and this eligibility must be maintained even after being accepted into a program. Requirements include GPA, disciplinary clearance, financial holds, class standing or year, and more for specific kinds of students such as non-UA and graduate students.

“Denying students is rare,” DeFazio said. “Our goal is to make Study abroad accessible and to have more UA students going abroad. Study Abroad coordinators work with students to help them find a program that is a good fit, which includes making sure they meet the eligibility requirements.  In some cases, programs can fill up if there is a maximum capacity, but this is also rare.”

There are many programs that cost the same or even less than a UA semester. Students are able to apply their federal and institutional aid toward the cost of study abroad. UA offers many opportunities for scholarships and financial aid.

This past summer, I was fortunate enough to be able to go on one of these study abroad programs and I can say it was 100% worth it. I was a part of the Eller Business Administration Minor Abroad program, which was UA faculty-led. Through this four week program, I spent the first two weeks studying in Prague, Czech Republic, and the last two weeks in Florence, Italy.

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I made new friends, I experienced different cultures, I picked up some of the different languages. And through this program I received nine direct academic credits.

Something that I think a lot of people think about while considering studying abroad is if they could go and do it alone, not knowing anyone in the program.

Being a part of Eller, Larson knew a lot of people going on this trip which made her feel more comfortable making the decision to go abroad.

But Larson said, “Although I enjoyed having people I knew, if I could do it again, I would go alone. I didn’t get a chance to make as many friends from Italy as I could because I had the comfort of the people I knew from Eller.”

Camryn Harper, a UA Senior, was a part of a direct exchange program with Sciences Po, a political science school in Paris and was there for five months.

Harper said, “I think it’s a positive experience either way. It was nice having my roommate as my one friend right away but I think going alone is a great way to branch out and make the most of your experience rather than it being like taking a trip with your friends.”

The program alone that I was a part of was $10,995. This included the flight from Prague to Florence. The tuition also included the academic credit, housing, health insurance, local transportation, welcome and farewell dinners, cultural activities, city tours and excursions.

Because I was a part of a shorter program, the courses that I took were more accelerated and fast paced. Trying to manage this was vey stressful on top of all the things that I wanted to experience and all the extra curricular activities that we had to do.

Through this program I was introduced to the Czech and Italian languages, participated in a Czech and Italian cooking class and went on business visits to the Apple and Piaggio Museum, many day trips, guided tours and bike tours. I even went on an overnight excursion to the Tuscan Coast.

Larson’s program was $17,000 for tuition and she estimated that she spent around $7,500 to $10,000 while being abroad, including her flight there and back.

I’d say that one of the main drawbacks about studying abroad would definitely have to be the expenses. There are so many different expenses to consider. There’s tuition, flights and personal spending money for the time you are abroad.

But again, UA offers many scholarships and financial aid! So the financial aspect shouldn’t discourage you at all. Harper received a study abroad scholarship that covered her whole semester abroad. Her rent was $750 a month and she said she spent around $600 a month on food and other miscellaneous things like clothes and souvenirs.

Larson said if she could study abroad again, she absolutely would and misses it everyday.

Harper said she definitely would as well, she’s even thought about getting a master’s degree abroad.

There’s a lot of things to consider before studying abroad. But if you were to talk to someone who has been, more often than not they’ll tell you that it is 100% worth it.

Harper said, “UA has so many programs that it’s easy to find your perfect fit."

If you’re interested in studying abroad, get started and check it out here


 Mikayla Balmaceda is a junior double majoring in journalism and creative writing. 



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