Why You Should Study Abroad
One can say we live in a small world, but it is not until one leaves home and travels that one can discover just how small one is in the grand scheme of things.
For 20 percent of LVC students, double the national average, this is true. On average, between 80 and 100 Lebanon Valley students choose to study abroad in any of the 12 program options that are offered each year. Those who participate in the study abroad programs choose to be shaped by worldly experiences that these programs offer.
Studying abroad can be one of the most memorable experiences of a student’s collegiate career. Cassidy DeCosmo ’18, a politics major with minors in music and law, studied abroad in London during the 2016 fall semester. Of everything she was able to do, her favorite memory is simple: one day she took the train into central London. She just felt like taking in the city atmosphere and exploring it on her own. While in a coffee shop, sitting there admiring what was going on around her in one of the busiest cites in the world, her life was forever changed: It was in that moment she came to the awestruck realization that she was 100 percent independent, and for the first time in her life, it did not bother her one bit.
“Every day I felt like I learned something new about myself that I don’t think I could get at home,” DeCosmo said. “For the first time, I felt comfortable being completely independent from just walking around London and traveling to different parts of Europe.”
DeCosmo’s story is not unique, but it is a powerful life lesson the College’s Center for Global Education hopes for its students to learn. For many of these students, studying abroad is the biggest transition of their lives. But it is where they truly discover themselves and create countless memories.
“An aspect from my lifestyle abroad I brought back with me was thinking of myself not strictly as American, but as a global citizen,” DeCosmo said. “We’re all a part of a bigger picture.”
When LVC students return from studying abroad, the Center for Global Education keeps in touch with returnees to help ensure a smooth readjustment. According to Caitlin Murphy ’12, associate director of global education, reverse culture shock is not uncommon. Countless opportunities are offered to keep students involved such as joining the Global Education Club, sharing new-found expertise at campus events that promote study abroad participation, and answering questions for students considering studying abroad.
“We try to reel students back by asking for their help with information sessions and through working with our international students. We also host an unpacking study abroad session about a month after students get back to discuss how students can talk about this experience professionally,” Murphy said. “We encourage students to find aspects of their lives abroad and try and use that and live that in their everyday experiences.”
The study abroad experience may seem frightening for some prospective students, according to Murphy. But she highly encourages every student to consider applying because the benefits of the experience out-weigh the apprehension. DeCosmo felt that studying in London was one of the greatest experiences in her life, and she would do it again in a heartbeat.
“You will grow so much from this experience,” DeCosmo said. “You will come back a different person for the better. You will thank yourself every single day after.”
For students interested in studying abroad, applications are usually due in March for the fall program and October for spring programs.
Maria Scacchitti for LVC 430 Feature Writing