Study abroad offers life-changing experiences

Kristen Schaibly went to Costa Rica in fall 2008 as part of her Spanish minor.

She was able to do things such as bungee jumping and white-water rafting during her trip.

Her trip was the same cost as if she would have stayed at Eastern for the semester.

Schaibly, a junior English and foreign language major, said seeing the vast scenery of rain forests and mountains was a really great experience.

Schaibly also said the people in Costa Rica changed her views on things because they do not focus as much as the U.S. on money, but more on spending time with people they love.

Betsy Pardo, a senior special education major, went to the University of Winchester in England the summer of 2007 and became more confident with herself through the experience.

“I really changed who I am,” Pardo said. “Before I left, I was really shy and timid.”

Students at Eastern have the chance to go to every single continent, with the exception of Antarctica, through either Eastern’s study abroad programs or a third-party provider.

The study abroad program at Eastern will have a fair today discussing the different study abroad options.

Lisa Brown, the coordinator of study abroad, said studying abroad is beneficial because it teaches people to become more open-minded and independent.

She also mentioned that it helps employers look favorably upon someone who has studied abroad.

Brown said some things students usually ask at the fair are about health, financial aid and continuing education.

Other questions include what kind of programs are offered, what credits the program offer, how much the program costs and if the person applying needs to speak the language of the country.

Brown said the fair is beneficial because students can have all their questions answered by representatives in one place.

Students at the fair will learn about how they need to get a travel consultation in the health department telling the student about possible immunizations along with a packet on the country.

They will also learn about the process of turning in an application to the continuing education department and what financial aid is offered through study abroad, said Brown.

Brown said Eastern gives out $100,000 in study abroad scholarships each year, which is vastly more than any other public master’s institution in Illinois.

The study abroad program usually offers up to $5,000 to any one person who applies.

“One of the key questions is can I afford study abroad and how it applies to a person specific situation,” Brown said.

When applying, students need a 2.0 GPA and they should be in good academic standing.

The programs usually range in price from $3,000 to $7,000, depending on the program and some programs are even cheaper than staying at Eastern.

“I think it is a good opportunity for students to have different experiences and a great resume builder,” said Farhan Aziz, another coordinator for study abroad.

Prizes, such as gift cards and free T-shirts, will also be handed out at the event.

The event will take place in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Ballroom from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Heather Holm can be reached at 581-7942 or [email protected].