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Weber: The five W's of studying abroad

September 26, 2018

On September 9, 10 University of Toledo students and I made our way to Detroit Metro Airport to begin the 12-hour journey to Manchester, England.

 

The 11 of us will be spending the 2018-19 academic year studying biochemistry there.

Studying in a foreign country allows us to get out of the classroom to engage in experiential learning of culture, language and traditions we might otherwise never learn about.

 

I am getting to take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by participating in UT’s Salford Exchange Program.

Every year, a group of UT students gets to go to the University of Salford, while a group of Salford students gets to study at UT.

 

This program was established over two decades ago; when it started, it was primarily chemistry students.

Although the program now focuses on biology pre-med students, I am the first biochemistry major in many years.

 

If you are wanting to study abroad here or anywhere else, here are some basics you need to know.

Although participating in both a studying abroad and an exchange program will result in the same experiences, there are some differences between the two.

 

The biggest difference is that if you are a current student at Toledo and participate in an exchange program, you remain enrolled at Toledo for the duration of the exchange and standard tuition fees apply.

Study abroad students are not enrolled at UT for the duration of their time overseas. Instead, students pay tuition and fees directly to the host institution as an international student.

 

Studying through an exchange program could be much more cost-effective for the student. Since the student is still enrolled at the home university, the credits they earn are those of that university, another benefit of studying abroad.

 

When trying to compare the two different styles of experiential learning, it is important to look at the five W’s: who, what, when, where and why.

 

WHO are studying abroad/exchange programs for?

 

Studying abroad is an experience for someone who wants to travel, step outside of his/her comfort zone, grow as a person and network.

 

Of course, you also want to look at your own goals, career ambitions and major to decide whether or not a specific program would be a good fit for you.

 

WHAT do you want to study?

 

Studying abroad subjects primarily depend on the home university of the student, but with early planning almost any major could participate in studying abroad.

 

Do you study art? Consider trying to study in Italy. Do you study technology? Maybe think about studying in Japan.

 

Here at UT,

 

you even have the option of spending time in Spain participating in a Spanish Immersion Program.

 

Both ways of experiential learning will allow you to earn credits while abroad with some even being major credit.

 

WHEN do you want to go abroad?

 

This will sometimes depend on the program of interest. The UT Salford Exchange Program exclusively takes place in the student’s third year after taking a list of prerequisites classes, although for special circumstances it can be changed.

 

I would advise that if you have a program that you want to participate in, meet the given adviser.

 

If you are just curious with what programs your school offers, set up a meeting with your study abroad office.

The University of Toledo’s Study Abroad Office is in Snyder Memorial, Room 1000.

 

WHERE do you want to study abroad?

 

This question also relates to the “what” question, but it’s important that you choose a place that you are excited about going to.

 

Each country has its own pros and cons, so choosing one that fits your personality and lifestyle will help your study abroad program be extremely successful for your personal growth.

 

WHY consider study abroad programs?

 

There are many personal and professional reasons that undergraduates’ study abroad. Besides learning about their given major, they are opening up new possibilities for personal growth and discovery.

 

Whatever you decide to do in life, the new skills studying abroad teaches, such as communication and navigation, are a huge asset.

 

If you have any questions or comments about studying abroad, feel free to reach out to me at skyler.weber@rockets.utoledo.edu.

 

Skyler Weber is a third-year student majoring in biochemistry with a minor in biology.

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