Students embark on adventures abroad

From The Daily Iowan University Edition

Several opportunities are available to University of Iowa students to study abroad. In the 2011-12 school year, 1,351 University of Iowa students in 65 different majors studied abroad in 75 countries.

Twenty-five percent more students studied in another country that school year than in 2007-08 following a strong push by university officials for students to enroll in study-abroad programs.

“Being exposed to other beliefs and ways of living and working is an intense experience unlike most others that forces students to reflect, to adapt, and to learn new skill sets,” said Downing Thomas, the dean of International Programs. “Even a simple request in a foreign language can be tough, so consider the learning that occurs when students are challenged with expressing themselves, negotiating, or handling an abstract conversation.”

English-language programs are available in countries around the world alongside programs targeting learning languages. The five most popular destinations in 2011-12 were Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, India, and France.

The university sponsors programs in approximately 50 different nations from China to Costa Rica.

Thomas noted that employers are attracted to students who have studied abroad and that programs do not need to delay graduation. The Study Abroad Office is located in 1111 University Capitol Centre and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays to help guide students.

UI student Nicole Mooc studied in China

Mooc took part in Tianjin, a two-month summer program in which students receive intensive Chinese language and cultural instruction. Students also travel to famous locations such as the Forbidden City and the Shaolin Temple.

“Previously, my major was international business, and it’s still Chinese and international studies, so I figured studying abroad would be a good route to gain experience overseas,” she said.

“With the international-studies major, I have an emphasis in East Asian studies, so a lot the cultural aspects of China, especially with the language, I got a of the background on that and the history, and I learned a lot.

“I’m Chinese, and I’ve always grown up with it, and my parents like to celebrate the culture. They felt it was important to be diverse. Studying abroad is fun, and everyone should do it for the experience.”

UI student Patrick Taffe studied in Russia

Taffe received a State Department Critical Language Scholarship, which allows him to travel to Ufa, Russia, to take language courses for two months this summer, all expenses paid.

“Last year, I became fluent in German through immersion, so I hope to achieve that to some degree in Russia, despite the time constraints,” he said. “I also hope make a good impression and get along with the Russians, despite all that’s been going on in Ukraine lately. I try to be very neutral and hands-off when it comes to talking about politics with foreigners, so hopefully, I’ll be able to connect with my host family and make a few friends.

“I’ll also use this opportunity to learn more about Soviet history, and I’ll try to make trips to Moscow and Volgograd to go to museums and historical buildings involved with the Second World War and the Soviet Union.

“Scholarships aren’t as hard to get as people think. Just applying for one gives you a chance. It’s always worth the shot … Life is too short not to travel and see the world.”

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