Opportunities to study abroad through UF
By Melissa Carrick
The 2015-2016 school year was one to beat with countless study abroad programs and fulfilling adventures, but looking ahead to this year, the opportunities for UF students will not disappoint. In the past, students have had travel opportunities that ranged from one week to a year in different places like Europe, Costa Rica, South America, Australia, and more. Each year more programs are added to give the students as many options as possible.
With growing interest in study abroad programs, more is being done to make these opportunities available to everyone. Some students do not consider traveling abroad because of the expenses, but the office of international education is working hard to make opportunities like these available to everyone.
Rachel Gerber, assistant director of the office of international education, explains what will be done this year to help with the costs.
“Our office is working to make study abroad programs less expensive through scholarship opportunities. This year we are hosting our first ever Run the World 5K to raise money for study abroad scholarships,” stated Gerber.
The cost of the race is $5 per person and they are hoping to add to the $10,000 already raised for these scholarships. There are also many other scholarships students can apply for that will help with the cost of studying abroad. Gerber encourages students to do their research before deciding studying abroad isn’t an option for them.
“We encourage all students to talk with us about opportunities before they decide they cannot afford to go abroad. In some cases, financial aid can even be used to support an academic program abroad,” said Gerber.
Lined up for this year, students have an array of programs to choose from to fit their individual needs. The most popular program, Oilers Serving Abroad, takes students to the Dominican Republic to serve. The Global Habitat for Humanity program serves abroad and there are Scholars Programs that serve in both London and Vietnam in May. Along with these opportunities there are also major-specific programs to study abroad for equestrians, pharmacy, and animal science majors.
Gerber said thanks to connections the University has made, programs are expanding and reoccurring.
“Other major specific programs are always developing, we have direct exchanges with universities in Austria, London, Japan and Sweden,” Gerber said.
Dallas Smith, senior in the pharmacy program, has had the opportunity to explore the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, India, Thailand, and United Arab Emirates through study abroad programs offered by UF. Smith has been a part of the Oilers Serving Abroad program, Hanoi Scholar’s, and an APPE Pharmacy Rotation.
A travel abroad program that students may be unaware of this year is the Kake Bridge Program that takes place over 3.5 weeks during the summer in Japan. Smith explains what makes this program unique,
“A really neat aspect of this program is that students only need to cover the costs of airfare and a few other miscellaneous costs while the hosts in Japan cover the rest of the expenses,” said Smith.
Smith plans on traveling independently this upcoming year to Belize to help combat the recent Zika Virus outbreak. Not only have these experiences helped Smith grow professionally, but he explains how they have helped him personally as well.
“Through travelling, I’ve become a much more effective and inclusive leader, expanded the venues in which learning can take place, and strived toward becoming a much better-rounded human being,” explained Smith. “I’ve gained perspectives on pharmacy that have and will change my practice, transformed the way I communicate with others, and developed relationships that I will cherish the remainder of my life.”
Jacob King, senior double major in Spanish and public relations, has traveled to Costa Rica, Panama and Argentina while at UF and shares some of the same insights as Dallas Smith. While traveling King has done things he never thought possible – feeding monkeys on the beach, drinking whiskey on a glacier, and petting penguins, but inside he had the biggest change of all.
“The biggest takeaway from my time abroad is a broader view of the world. The world is a big place with a lot of diversity and being away for so long has made me mature and genuinely changed me for the better,” King said.
King and Smith both understand the prominent fears of studying abroad, but by taking these opportunities the reward has been greater than the initial fear. Not only will studying abroad benefit a student’s professional life, but it will also change them personally.
“Research indicates that international experiences make students more creative, become better problem solvers, better able to communicate with other cultures, and better able to respond in diverse situations while in turn makes them better employees and citizens of the world,” explained Gerber.
Whether it be a week or a year, it is likely that UF has a program that will fit to your needs and enhance your college experience.
“I wish all students would know that anything you want to do and wherever you want to do it – you can,” stated King. “The Buford Intercultural Student Center is the place to go to figure out what the options are. If a student wants to spend a month in London, there’s a program. If a student wants to spend a year in Austria, there’s a program.”
The office for international education is located in the Buford Center at 1222 N. Cory St.