Be picky when going abroad, keep your goals in mind

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The start of a new school year is a pivotal time. We attend new classes, meet new people and live in different places. This is true especially for students who will study abroad this semester.

Many of us are going to countries where English is not the primary language, where local university classes outnumber DePauw's student body and where we don't yet know anyone.  But despite the emotional and perhaps physical discomfort, a multitude of DePauw students decide to go overseas every year. Why is this?

For me, the decision to study abroad was not much of a choice. I have known for a long time that it was something I wanted to do. The only question was when and where. DePauw offered the opportunity, and I took it.

I went through the tedious process of multiple applications, interviews and seemingly endless paperwork. The application process can seem daunting when you first look at it, but it is worth the pain. 

Figuring out where to go was problematic. There are many places I have never been but want to visit. In the end I settled on Salamanca, Spain for a number of reasons.

My first thought was the language.  I've been taking Spanish since my freshman year of high school, and I had reached the point where sitting in a classroom wasn't helping me anymore.

I needed a chance to practice my Spanish all day, every day, and to be around native speakers. A semester abroad will not make me fluent, but I hope it gets me a good deal closer than the three hours of class I would have attended at DePauw each week this semester.

Because of the language incentive, I knew I wanted to study somewhere in Spain or Latin America.

My second consideration was the Winter Term following my study abroad. Study abroad counts as a Winter Term credit, and since I'm already abroad, why not stay there? I needed a place from which travel would be easy.

My primary method of movement could be public transport. Spain and Europe have a much more extensive public transportion system than Latin America. My plan is to spend roughly five weeks traveling around Europe.

I had settled on a country, but now I needed a city and a program. DePauw's website lists all the programs with DePauw approval. There are several options for Spain, but I chose Salamanca because the Universidad de Salamanca (where I will be taking classes) is known as the "Oxford of the Spanish World." Salamanca is also said to be a very pretty city, is connected by train to Madrid and comes highly recommended by DePauw students who have studied there in the past. 

Everybody has their own reasons for their choice in study abroad location.  Anything from resume-building to family history to intense interest in a specific culture might affect the decision.

Regardless of each student's specific destination, everyone I've talked to agrees: study abroad is a rewarding experience. As we enter a new school year, I encourage you to see what study abroad opportunities are available.

You do not need to be fluent in a foreign language or have tons of money. There is something for everyone.

All you need is dedication and a sense of adventure. 

 

Uhlmann is a junior from Loveland, Co. majoring in Spanish and political science. opinion@thedepauw.com