Where did everybody go this summer?

Anju George

International Studies assistant director Hoda Baeshen talks to hundreds of students coming through her office every year looking for a change from their traditional studies in the American environment.

Whether it is simply for the exposure of a different culture, personal growth or to build up an impressive international resume, the study abroad program always sees a steep incline of participants.

Between the 2003-04 and 2004-05 school years, study abroad saw its student enrollment rise 16 percent from 600 to 700 students. The past school year set a record with 750 students participating in study abroad.

However, with students not wanting to leave campus for a semester, the summer abroad option has become more appealing. The University sponsors 18 faculty-led summer abroad programs for the summer, but there are unlimited programs students can get involved in with a University approval.

Statistics show that the majority of students head to England, Spain and Italy, but many non-traditional countries, such as India, Singapore and South Africa have seen rising enrollment.

When considering where to study abroad, Baeshan advises students not to pick a location because of its aesthetic appeal, but rather “on what you hope to gain,” said Baeshen. “We are not a travel agency.”

The International Studies office encourages students to live with a host so they can merge with the culture, but with residential halls hosting students from different colleges and countries, many students can gain valuable experiences from being around others.

Liberal arts sophomore Erika Esposito studied in Germany’s Academy of International Learning while living with her host family and had classes with students ranging from Texas A&M to Lehigh University.

A program is not offered through the University, Esposito had to obtain approval of the program through German professor Charles Helmetag. Esposito advised people to look at the weather of the country they are studying in.

“During the first two weeks, it was so cold I had to buy a winter jacket,” she said, “but during the last two weeks, it was so hot I had to wear shorts and a tank.”

Paul Parisi, a sophomore in the School of Business, was one of 41 students who enrolled in the summer abroad program in England, first interning at the English National Opera in London and then taking classes in the London School of Economics.

With one pound being equivalent to $1.90, the money aspect was just as hard to adjust to as the fish and chips.

“Basically, whatever we spent in England was doubled and London was a terribly expensive city,” said Parisi.

Amid the studying, biology major Christopher Lisi discovered there is always time for fun in Cadiz, Spain. In the friendlier, relaxed, and more personable community, he joined the locals as they left their homes around midnight to enjoy bars and plazas, and sometimes not returning until 6 or 7 a.m.

However, Lisi cautioned that this work and play combination may not be fitting for everyone, but rather for people with a “strong desire to experience culture and in an advanced enough level to appreciate it while being able to learn a lot.”Baeshen encourages students to study abroad to get out of their comfort zone and obtain a better understanding of the world.

While the idea may seem crippling in the financial sense, the University partners with other schools such as Boston University, Arcadia University, and Butler University to better assist students on their trips and for scholarship money.

There are many other opportunities, including the Ackerman Scholarship, providing money to those who study in non-traditional countries and the Connelly-Delouvrier Scholarship which looks at students who excel in their studies.

The Office of Financial Assistance also awards the student the same amount of money traveling abroad as it would if the student stayed on campus.