Students studying abroad at all-time high

This winter break is ending a little differently than it has in years past for University junior Anya McCall.@@*[email protected]@ Instead of returning to Eugene, she is packing up her possessions and flying nearly 6,000 miles to the Netherlands.

McCall, a sociology major, will be studying for the next four months at the University of Amsterdam through a University study abroad program.

“I kind of clicked around the European map and landed on the Netherlands and from there decided on Amsterdam,” McCall said.@@[email protected]@

McCall has spent the last few weeks of break setting up all the necessities for life abroad. She has had to open up a bank account, get a cell phone and figure out the public transportation system to get from the airport to the hostel where she will spend her first few days before class begins.

The University had 1,081 students study abroad in 2011 — the highest number the Office of International Affairs has seen in the school’s history. Students studied in dozens of countries, with Spain, Italy and Mexico as the top three destinations.

Director of Study Abroad Programs Cari Moore@@*[email protected]@ said, “I think what makes studying abroad accessible for students here is that we really work hard to find programs that are good fits for students. We also really try to promote scholarships because we don’t want funding to be a barrier.”

As McCall prepares to depart for Europe, she is filled with a mixture of emotions.

“I’m excited and I’m nervous. I just want to get there and get established. It’s kind of how I felt before freshman year,” McCall said.

She will be taking an array of classes relating to social science, including social politics of the Netherlands, the structure and work of nonprofit organizations and a weekly program discussing the culture of soccer in Europe.

“I think that in the beginning, there will be a bit of a culture shock,” she said. “Getting used to everything will take a while; the language, getting used to classes and just the city as a whole.”

John Goodwin,@@[email protected]@ another University junior, just returned from Russia after studying a semester at St. Petersburg State University.@@ He had nothing but praise for the study abroad experience.

“Absolutely do it. It was really fun and a great change of pace from the typical 10-week quarter in Eugene,” Goodwin said.

According to him, studying abroad allows students to work toward credits for graduation while gaining a global perspective that pays dividends even years after college.

“We have it really well in America,” Goodwin said. “I feel like people here take a lot for granted. Living in Russia for four months showed me that.”

For McCall and other students about to study abroad — many of whom leave throughout this week — the hope is that the upcoming months will be filled with new experiences and a new global outlook.

“Everyone should be out of their comfort zone at least once,” she said. “It’s a good way to grow.”

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