Do you love to travel? Are you interested in other cultures? Does the opportunity to brush up on some high school language skills appeal to you?
If so, the study abroad program is for you.
Cedarville’s Study Abroad Program
One of the many things I love about Cedarville is its study abroad program. Cedarville makes it possible for students in a variety of majors to study abroad. Study abroad semesters are required for some majors. As an international studies major, I was required to study abroad, and it was BY FAR one of the highlights of my Cedarville experience.
Initially, it was difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea of studying abroad. I had plenty of questions about the cost, logistics, and even where I would go. Cedarville’s staff in the study abroad department helped me so much in figuring all of this out.
How Will I Afford It?
One of my top fears when going abroad was definitely the financial aspect. However, I was immediately comforted when I found out that it would cost me the same as a semester here on campus, or in some cases even less.
That being said, the staff, advisers, and students both in the study abroad department and overseas warned me that once you get to your destination, the temptation to spend money on everything, from clothes to weekend trips to cappuccinos, is overwhelming. Depending on where you are going, this may not be as much of a challenge. However, it was for me, and I learned ways to plan ahead.
I suggest planning out a budget to follow when you are abroad. For example, try to estimate how many cups of coffee you will buy, know your travel destinations, be familiar with the exchange rate, etc. You will be advised through all these things as you decide where you want to study.
Where Can I Ask My Questions?
Look out for study abroad information sessions throughout the beginning of the fall/spring semesters. These events normally feature discussion panels where you can ask more questions. The Study Abroad office, located on the top floor of Founders Hall, is also a welcome resource. The staff there helped me a lot in planning out my experience and what that would look like. Anna Porter, who does a lot of the coordinating for prospective study abroad students, is very helpful. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want further information about study abroad logistics, and she is more than ready to answer any questions you may have!
Don’t hesitate to ask questions. I promise you will be glad that you asked about what may seem like even the smallest thing.
Since I had a Spanish minor along with my major, I decided to study abroad in Valencia, Spain, during the spring semester of my sophomore year. My experience looked very different from most study abroad programs, mainly because during the time I was studying abroad, COVID-19 began to spread, causing my group of study abroad students to be sent home early. However, the amazing cross-cultural experience was still unbelievable and life changing for me.
This immersive experience opened up many opportunities to learn about Spanish culture and what daily life in Spain looks like. My friend and I were assigned to live with a Spanish woman who had very little English-speaking experience, which frequently forced us to get out of our comfort zones, especially when sitting at the dinner table, and practice our Spanish. We did use google translate and the Spanish dictionary quite a bit to help us in the beginning.
I experienced a great deal of culture shock when I first got to Spain. I had to adjust to attending classes mostly taught in Spanish, taking the bus every day to school, and also living with a host mom who had very different expectations than when I lived in the states.
Be very aware of cultural differences and be sure to respect them. For example, if you know you are going to be out late, make sure you communicate this with your host family at all times. You are basically their child for a few months, so they want to know that you are safe and okay!
While I was abroad, I was able to travel quite frequently. This may not be the case for your study abroad experience, but if you have the opportunity, take advantage of it! Travel across Europe is pretty affordable, but the little things can add up.
If you want to explore more of Spain, I recommend either renting a car or taking a bus, which are normally very inexpensive transportation. I was able to rent a car while travelling in Mallorca, Spain and it was incredibly fun and very safe (they still drive on the right hand side of the road). When I visited Barcelona, which was about four hours north of Valencia, I took a bus, which was a beautiful way to see the Mediterranean Coast. I flew to London and Paris for some short weekend adventures which were incredible.
Even on these weekend trips, make sure you plan and research where you want to stay, roughly estimate how many meals you will be eating, and plan what you’ll do, because it can add up very quickly. Spain uses euros, but when I traveled to London, the currency once again changed to the pound. Make sure you are aware of currency changes between countries.
There were some apps I used regularly while studying abroad in Europe:
- Hostelworld: I used this app the most when it came to finding somewhere to stay when traveling, especially when I wanted to travel cheap and out of my backpack. They have many great options, but make sure you check the ratings and reviews before booking. It is not worth risking your safety for a really cheap place to stay!
- Moovit: This app gives you updated travel information and times for all kinds of transit. This was my lifeline when navigating new cities and using the metro. There are some cities you do not want to get lost in, especially late at night!
- Omio: This app came in handy when trying to find the best and cheapest forms of travel across Europe. I bought most of my train tickets through Italy on this app. It also monitors plane, train, and bus routes, and gives you estimated costs. Most of the time, my friend and I flew by RyanAir, which is a very inexpensive airline that gets you through most of Europe.
- Cabify: If you want a break from walking, the buses, and the metro, there is always the option to get a cab. However, I do not recommend this on a daily basis as it does get very expensive, and most everything you need is normally either one bus stop away or at least a 15-minute walk from where you will live. However, if you are running short on time and need to, say, get to the airport quickly, this is definitely a good option.
If you are thinking of studying abroad, I highly recommend bringing along a close friend. I convinced one of my best friends from Cedarville to join me on my study abroad adventure in Spain. It made the experience 10 times more exciting. We met up in Chicago and set off for Spain together. We decided to spend a few days on the island of Mallorca off the coast of Spain before classes started. If you do have the desire to travel while you study abroad, it is incredibly helpful and safer to have a travel buddy, believe me.
Some other things that I learned while in Spain, as well as in the journey there and back, were to read up about where you will be going and, most importantly, to pray about it. God uses every experience for good, but I wish I had prepared for and studied more before I went to live in Valencia. This will help you transition into a new lifestyle that you may not be accustomed to.
No matter how much you prepare beforehand, there will be lots of surprises to learn from. Read up on important things before you go, but try to have an open mind and step into your adventure with no expectations, so you can be open to the experiences ahead of you.
I hope that this blog post has either sparked your interest in or encouraged your desires to study abroad!
A few final tips: Take so many pictures when you go, soak up every moment, and just go for it. It will expand your mind and your heart toward the many amazing cultures and places God has created. I cannot encourage you enough to take advantage of the study abroad program and make memories of your own; you will certainly not regret it!
Below are a few additional pictures from my trip!
Majoring in International Studies, class of 2022
Where I’m From: Easton, Maryland
Favorite Class: Cross Cultural Ministry/World Religions
Go-To Rinnova Order: Iced Boston with a shot of vanilla