Senior Cassandra Bosma got to climb the towers in Rothenburg, Germany, and joined the fall festivities at Kramermarkt in Bremen, Germany, two unique experiences marking when she studied abroad in Germany for a year.
The University of South Dakota encourages students to go through with this program because it gives most students a better understanding of the world and the opportunities they have as a young adult, said Annika Turner, adviser of Global Learning.
Turner is in charge of recruitment and said now is the time for students to look into studying abroad, if considering it at all.
Global Learning 101 meetings are held throughout the semester each Wednesday at 5 p.m. and Thursday at noon in room 205 of I.D. Weeks Library for anyone who is interested in going abroad.
“I have never had a student who has regretted going abroad,” Turner said.
Student Global Learning ambassadors Bosma and Taylor Hamblin can attest to this.
Graduate student Hamblin studied abroad through the University Studies Abroad Consortium program. He spent a summer in Greece in 2011 and in the spring of 2013 went to Spain.
Students are offered the choice of enrolling in mostly English-speaking classes or enrolling in native-speaking classes. Hamblin took the latter route while studying in Spain.
As an undergraduate, he was a history education major and a Spanish minor. He had taken three years of Spanish to prepare, but he said it was still a challenge.
“Daily conversation escaped me for the first part of it, so it took a while to warm up and get used to it,” Hamblin said. “Even now, I can talk to people, but I’m still definitely a foreigner.”
He said when students go abroad, they typically do not get cars, so they either get a bus pass or, in his case, ride a bike. He said one of the best experiences he had was when he simply traveled around Spain on his bike.
“I took trains; I took buses. One week, I rode my bike down the coast 150 miles and just biked every day and then stopped at a hostel and explored the city,” Hamblin said.
Before his excursion in Spain, Hamblin had travelled to Mexico and Central America. He said in all instances abroad, he needed to immerse himself in the culture around him to take away anything from the experience.
One of the ways he did this was living in a flat with five Europeans instead of rooming with other Americans. The flat was in the city of Alicante, Spain, with campus about three miles away.
Hamblin said the best part about it was meeting new people he is still in contact with today. There was a group of about 50 Americans, but he wanted to meet different people with different perspectives.
“You’ve got your entire life to meet people from your culture,” Hamblin said. “Might as well spend the five months to actually branch out a little bit.”
Both Hamblin and Bosma have a similar outlook on why to study abroad. Both said simply, “Why not?”
Bosma, a senior majoring in political science and international studies, went to Oldenburg, Germany, in October 2012 and returned August.
She went for two semesters, and said Assistant Director of Global Learning Eric Leise convinced her to do so as a spur-of-the-moment decision, after telling her the number of people who wish they could have stayed longer.
Bosma had taken two years of college-level German. To get accustomed with the transition, she started her studies by taking a couple of classes in English the first semester, then took them all in German her second semester.
“It was a headache, but it was good headache,” Bosma said. “I definitely learned a lot more the second semester as far as language goes, and I got more comfortable speaking in German than I was before.”
Bosma said she learned to value her relationships when she was away for a long period of time. She said even though a voice cannot be heard over an email, Skype was a great tool when communicating with the Global Learning office or friends and family.
She said she also learned to be more independent and strong-willed in her values and beliefs, and if something unexpected happened, there was no need to freak out. Bosma said she has learned to simply take a breath and move on from it.
“One really good experience that I had was that, at the end of the first semester there — it was a long first semester, a lot of work — me and my friend planned like a two-month backpack trip throughout Europe, and that was something that we looked forward to, so that was really nice,” Bosma said. “It was easy to do since everything was so close.”
Bosma said she met people from all over the world, not just Europe.
Her roommates were from Poland and the Netherlands. She said they, along with many others she met, will be friends for a lifetime because they were all in the same situation together, and no one can recreate that.
USD Global Learning offers three different types of global programs — sponsored and affiliate programs in which a student goes overseas for an extended period of time; faculty-led programs in which students are exposed to a different culture for a couple weeks; and national student exchange in which students are exchanged between certain universities.
Once Turner has received information from a student about which program they would like to pursue, like Hamblin or Bosma, she makes sure the academic courses available fit them. She also makes sure the students are emotionally mature enough to handle the change, and they are financially stable.
“Getting a degree is no longer enough,” Turner said.
She said the Global Learning program would give students an edge when applying for graduate school or when interviewing for a job.