Mason Students Encouraged to Study Abroad
March 25, 2011Print-Friendly Version
By Aisha Jamil
From England to China to Peru, and now even Antarctica, study abroad destinations for Mason students are numerous. However, many do not take advantage of the opportunities to study around the world while earning academic credit because of the cost.
Although studying abroad seems expensive at first glance, the Center for Global Education provides students with many options for funding their studies overseas.
“Financial aid, federal loans, scholarships and grants are all different ways students can finance their trip abroad,” says Kevin Stoy, marketing coordinator for the Center for Global Education. “Students simply need to be more aggressive and proactive when it comes to their educational experience.”
According to Stoy, while some students might think they have little chance of getting a scholarship, much of the aid goes unused, as only 10 to 12 percent of participating students end up using the money.
“We do everything in our power to make each of these programs successful,” he says. “We’ll find ways to cut costs for the students as much as possible.”
This summer, the Center for Global Education is offering a six-week Chinese language study program at Beijing Language and Culture University.
The program includes language-intensive courses in the morning, along with time to explore the magnificent Chinese capital during the afternoon and weekends. Students will visit the Great Wall and cities such as Xi’an. A weekend tour of an Inner Mongolia grassland is also planned.
“Looking at this program initially, students might get intimidated by the cost,” Stoy says. “However, all students with at least a 2.75 cumulative GPA are eligible to apply for a Global Understanding Scholarship, which will award 15 students going to China this summer at least $2,000 apiece.”
The Center for Global Education offers a list of other scholarships that are geared toward study-abroad programs.
For most programs, the cost includes tuition, accommodations, numerous site visits, transportation, insurance and meals.
“Students should think of it as an investment for their future,” says Stoy. “Putting on your resume that you spent a semester in Russia or did an internship in Hong Kong shows that you have international experience living abroad, which many students in the United States don’t have. It’s what sets you apart when potential employers are looking at your resume, especially in international companies.”
Stoy believes every student should have the experience of living in another country before they graduate from Mason.
“Students get an experience that you can’t get here on campus. You can learn about Spanish culture all you want here in books and films, but you only experience real flamenco and tapas in Spain. Studying abroad is a life-changing experience.”
Studying abroad over the summer helps students get ahead on academic credit, too, Stoy points out, by earning six to nine credits while learning, having fun and forming new friendships.
Daniel Hernandez, a junior majoring in global affairs, recently studied in China. “I arrived in Beijing thinking that making friends would be the most difficult part of my journey,” he says. “Instead it became the easiest and most important facet of the program.”
According to Stoy, “The best thing about seeing students go on this journey is that in the beginning they start off shy and unsure, and when they come back, they have found themselves and are much more confident of their abilities.”