By: Kaylee Wheat
Last year, 162 University of Findlay Oilers stepped off U.S. soil and into a new learning experience. International Study and Service programs have been around for years.
UF Director of International Education, Eileen Rucki, claims that the study abroad programs are growing in popularity.
“Just in the months of May and June, which is when majority of our students go abroad for short term experiences,” said Rucki, “That number doubled from the year before.”
Junior Animal Science, Pre-Vet major, Lauren Omerzo, has spent time in Japan, South Africa, Thailand, and Australia through the study abroad program. It does not stop there with Omerzo, as she plans to study abroad for a fifth time.
“I want to spend more time in South Africa than I did, and I wish I could,” said Omerzo. “I have this weird desire to go to Kenya. I want to go to Kenya so bad.”
Studying abroad teaches students many lessons, whether that be in their field of study, or just about life. Lydia Sparks, junior intervention specialist major, studied abroad and while she was overseas, she conducted a research project based on children’s literature. While abroad, Sparks was using children’s books in the classroom to develop cultural awareness. While she says she learned a lot from her time away from the United States, Sparks says the biggest thing she took from studying aboard was she wanted to change the way she travelled when she got home.
“My biggest takeaway was that public transportation is the way to go,” said Sparks “I never wanted to drive again.”
One advantage of the study abroad program, aside from the convenient transit, is the ability to immerse in the culture, which allows students to learn more about foreign ideals and about themselves.
“You’re experiencing new cultures, new perspectives, new world views,” said Rucki. “There is so much to be gained by seeing the diversity of thought, values and systems. I think it really helps [students] in some ways to learn more about themselves and their own culture, maybe where they fit into the larger scheme of the world.”
Rucki says the memories and experiences are priceless. She encourages students to come to her office to discuss the advantages of this journey, and what is holding them back.
“I would just encourage people to study abroad,” says Omerzo. “It’s an amazing experience, and experience that you won’t get anywhere else.”