By Alyson Schutte and Kayla Woods-Gray
Resident Assistants
University Housing

It’s the start of the spring semester! You know what that means… Spring break and summer are on the brain! It’s time to start thinking about the different things you can do during your breaks away from school.

Many students debate whether an internship or studying abroad is more important to their future. Our answer to that is, why not both? Why not study abroad for two to six weeks or even a semester and have an internship follow that?

Katie Terrell is a professor who co-leads the International Business Seminar in Dublin, Ireland with Professor Charles Leflar each summer. She offered us some insight on studying abroad and what to think about if you decide to give it a try.

“When you study abroad, you are representing the University of Arkansas, state of Arkansas, and your college, and all of that is a tremendous weight, but also a huge honor. Studying abroad is a stepping stone towards a professional life that might involve traveling abroad or at least working with people from other countries or places. Learning how to communicate with people from all over the world is so important in your professional life.

“The study abroad program I lead is in the business program, so we do think very specifically about professional lives, but even students who are not business students are going to be working in a professional setting as some point. Learning how to be flexible is one of the biggest skills you can have in life and I think is something learned best while traveling.”

Terrell’s thoughts provides a perfect transition into our top three tips for getting the most out of studying abroad.

1. Have an open mindset

There is no doubt that traveling to a new place can be scary, especially when staying there for a long period of time. It is important to soak up the culture and learn as much as you possibly can. Don’t be afraid to try new foods, dances or activities that are relevant to the culture. Instead, take it all in and see the world. Not only will it allow you to gain new experiences but will help you grow personally and professionally.

“Keep an open mind. Be flexible. When you travel there is no way to know what you’re going to experience, and that is very exciting,” Terrell said.

Allow yourself to branch out this summer, or next. Take a chance on a new opportunity that could change your life.

2. Plan, research the program and then plan some more

You may only be studying abroad in one city, but that doesn’t mean you are limited to adventuring in just one place! Often students spend their free time touring surrounding cities or even countries. Before leaving the U.S,, make sure you create a plan of what you want to see and do while abroad. Not only will it save you time, but it will give you an idea of how much money you should save.

Terrell explains it is important to “do your research on what is going on in the country. Know what is going on in the news. It’s good to know so you can talk to people, but pertinent for safety as well.”

Communicating with people isn’t always easy, especially if there is a language barrier. If you are a student who is going abroad to a country that speaks a language that is your native language, know at least some of their language. Know how to say ‘Hello, do you speak English?’ It will help you get around easily and it shows you took time to learn their culture,”  suggests Professor Terrell. 

3. Grow Your Piggy Bank with Scholarships

One of the biggest concerns with students choosing if they should study abroad or not is the cost. They start to see how much tuition, cost and fees are and think it is not something they can afford. Thankfully, the University of Arkansas Study Abroad Office offers lots of scholarships to cover the cost.

You could also save a little money each month for extra expenses. For example, instead of buying a cup of coffee on your way to class, save the money and think about how you could enjoy that cup of coffee in France or Spain. This will help you get to experience the new place you’ve always wanted to go.

So, what are you waiting for? Go to today and find your home for this summer!