Last week marked an important milestone in my life. I got new shoes. Now while this may not sound like a big deal, I grew quite an attachment to my old pair. I have had those grey and black shoes for over a year now. They even went with me on my semester abroad to Florence, Italy. We traveled around Europe together, walking throughout cities such as Paris, Berlin, and Barcelona. I had to rush to take them off in order to get through airport security. I soaked them in water and while trudging through the rain in Rome, and then proceeded to dry them using a hotel hairdryer. And so, although these shoes have acquired several holes and the soles are warn away, it’s quite sad that I have to stop wearing them. However, I fortunately do not have to hang up the memories with them.
Now that I have new shoes, I figure it is as good a time as any to pass on some information about study abroad so that you too can wear out your own pair. The first thing I suggest is to just think. Do you want to practice speaking another language? Would you like to return to another country for an extended period? Where does your family tree trace go back to? What places have you always wanted to explore? Brainstorming answers for these questions will help you come up will a variety of potential locations to study abroad.
The next step to take is to schedule an appointment with Peggy Imai. Peggy is the director of the Study Abroad program at St. Mike’s and she can help you find programs that match your interests. Having a list of potential countries you’d like to study in, or courses you’d like to take, will help Peggy narrow down the programs she gives you information on. However, even if you have no idea where you want to travel, she has a number or resources that will help you start deciding.
After meeting with Peggy it is time to start researching study abroad programs. There are so many different types of programs you can participate in abroad. Whether you prefer to take traditional college classes, live with a host family, study in multiple cities, and/or have a more experiential learning experience, there is a program out there for you.
In summary, finding the right study abroad program requires a mixture of research and following your dreams. I know that sounds cornier than a maze in the fall, but it’s true. For as long as I can remember I wanted to go to Italy. Since I was about 12 I put a little money aside each year to save up for the day I could travel abroad. When I made it to St. Mike’s, Peggy gave me information on a number of programs in Italy and after looking them over, I found that API was the program for me. I lived in an apartment in the middle of Florence and was able to take classes a few days a week while traveling on the weekends. It was just the experience I wanted.
Good luck with your search for the right study abroad program. I hope you wear out your own pair of shoes on whatever continent you chose to explore.