Studying abroad should be more accessible for American students

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

FLORENCE VAN DEN BERG, Channels Staff

Studying abroad can be one of the greatest experiences in the lives of young people.

Being able to see a different culture and become immersed in a whole new world can be scary, yet thrilling at the same time.

Young people study abroad to see the world, try new things, meet new people, fall in love, visit amazing places and learn about other cultures. The goodbyes are difficult but time flies by and soon enough we return back home where nothing has changed but ourselves. The journey is bumpy and leaves students missing the comfort of home. Yet in return, it is a life-changing experience.

Internationalization has become so significantly important in higher education worldwide that more and more students spend a part of their studies overseas to experience a whole new culture. In an article by the BCC, they reported on the statistics of studying abroad. The number of international students worldwide rose from 0.8 million in 1975 to 3.7 million in 2009 according to the International Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Many people, including myself, wonder why America doesn’t offer the same study abroad programs as many European countries.

They do provide students the opportunity to study an entire semester or year in another country that counts as credits towards schooling back home, yet the liberal arts and sciences programs at the Amsterdam University College send around 60 AUC yearly students to a wide variety of universities worldwide.

The government in America gives scholarships and financial aid to students at public universities but being eligible for one can be a difficult process. It takes quite a bit of work to get funding. Yes, there are agencies that offer great support in the hunt for study abroad. But, no surprise, they are completely beyond many students’ financial limits.

Still there are ways to study and live in other parts of the world. Starting with City College that hosts study abroad programs throughout the year allowing students to travel overseas while earning course credit in specific academic areas.

To be sure it is not just facing the challenge but also as an out of state student the cost of it is just beyond our budget. Many think about the pricey big name-universities at first but forget the other possibilities out there. With that said, City College is one of those other opportunities. When using College Board, the website geared to helping students decide their future, it shows the University of California Santa Barbara exceeds City College with nearly $30,000 in tuition.

Fashion, food and media trends stem from America and all travel worldwide. No wonder people have this ideal image in mind about chasing the American dream.

But is it really as we think it is? USA Today reported that America is the popular destination for international students.

Many of us don’t consider studying abroad because of the fearful idea leaving our warm and loving home. We fantasize seeing our life change soon as we pack our bags and enter a new country. So many worries go through our mind such as whether or not it is not the right decision. We should leave those fears behind and have the courage to step outside our comfort zones. Studying abroad creates a story that is far more valuable than money will ever be.

The American Field Service is dedicated to providing students with the appropriate information for studying abroad. Americans share stories about their experiences and connect together to make studying abroad happen.