Mason Students Attest to Multiple Benefits of Study Abroad

Posted: October 11, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Lexi Soya

Instead of spending her entire winter break at home last year, Madison Bolls, an art history major at Mason, went to Monaco for three weeks with a study abroad program.

“My apartment in Monaco overlooked the harbor and the palace,” recalls Bolls. “Every morning we’d wake up and watch the sun rising over this gorgeous view. It’s my best memory from the trip.”

Bolls took advantage of just one of the many programs Mason’s Center for Global Education (CGE) offers. With groups traveling to destinations such as Costa Rica, London, Dubai and Israel, it’s no wonder Mason is the second leading university in Virginia for sending students abroad. CGE expects more than 200 people to travel abroad with them this winter alone.

These experiences are not limited to Mason students; literally anyone can go.

“We try to make our programs as available as possible,” says Jen Ramsdell, the CGE marketing coordinator. “They are open to students, faculty, staff, non-Mason affiliated students and the general public. You don’t have to receive credit for it, so just because you’re 45 and getting your second degree doesn’t mean you can’t go abroad.”

The advantages of studying abroad are countless and wide-ranging, say students who have done it. “It broadens your horizons,” says Bolls, “My experience made me more aware of the world and that there’s a lot more to it than just America.”

Mason’s study abroad programs also have distinctive academic benefits. Participants can receive three credits during these two- to three-week trips, and because the courses cross-reference, they apply to almost all degrees. Some have a special focus such as intensive language study, theater or ecology.

Jessica MacNaughton, a senior biology major who will go to Costa Rica this winter to learn about its ecosystems, notes, “Studying something in its natural habitat is so much more valuable than just reading it out of a book.”

Bolls attests to the academic benefits, saying, “I learned more French in that three-week period than I learned in all my time in the classroom.”

Going to a foreign country also helps individuals grow personally, students say.

“Just to experience how other people live and what their culture is like is amazing,” says Ramsdell. “And it helps you learn a lot about yourself. The most important thing I learned was that I can rely on myself and I don’t have to rely on others, even through language barriers.”

The application process is all done online, and participants then mail or bring in the supplementary documents to the CGE office.

CGE runs information sessions on study abroad, international internships and other topics each week. See the session schedule online, or for more information, visit the CGE web site, call 703-993-2154 or stop by Room 235 in the Johnson Center on the Fairfax Campus.

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