Campus, International, News

Study Abroad encourages students to immerse themselves fully, officials say

College of Arts and Sciences junior Paulina Muratore said that her goal next summer is to study Arabic, just in time for her study abroad trip to Turkey next fall.

“The university in the [Turkey] program is one of the best in Istanbul and the classes are very good … It might be hard to transition, but I’ve been to the Middle East and I’ve always felt very at home there,” Muratore said.

College students have shown a reluctance to leave behind their American customs when studying abroad, according to a Sept. 25 Associated Press report. Especially in more exotic locales, students reportedly stick together when they encounter language and cultural barriers.

Last year, 2,352 Boston University students traveled to six different continents, according to Boston University’s Study Abroad 2010-11 report.

While each program provides new educational internship opportunities, it is important for students to immerse themselves in the culture of their new home, said Margaret Lucas, Study Abroad department’s marketing and communications coordinator, in an interview.

“Studying abroad is all about engagement. It’s about finding yourself and also taking advantage of distance – and of the unknown – in developing a clarity and understanding of where you’re from,” Lucas said.

One way for students to immerse themselves in their country’s culture is by taking on internships, said Tessa Hayward, a College of Fine Arts senior. Last Spring, Hayward said she interned in a theater company while studying in Australia.

“Having the opportunity to work and really blend in with the Aussies was another huge perk for me. I was the only American in my internship placement, which was a wonderful opportunity to really live, work and socialize with the Australians,” she said.

Associated Press reported that colleges have tried to facilitate students’ engagement in foreign cultures through internships, along with contracts forbidding students from speaking English, increased workloads and even “solo scavenger hunts.

BU offers more than 90 programs, ranging from engineering to liberal arts, Lucas said. The programs include internships, as well as pre-professional and cultural activities.

“Studying abroad is one of the most relevant and active ways for a student to find their passion,” she said.

“While the students will be experiencing such cultural differences such as a foreign language, customs, cultures, religions, etc., we hope that they would be able to appreciate the value of an alternative perspective, whether that be a changed worldview or a change from within themselves,” Lucas said.

After spending six months in Australia, Hayward said she didn’t want to go home. The experience, she said, enabled her to feel “completely comfortable” with Australian culture.

“The best part of my experience was traveling around Australia with some of the most incredible people I have ever met, and sharing our experiences together,” Hayward said.

“There will never be another time in most of our lives when we can afford to live away from home for so long, and prosper so much as people while we do it,” she said. “It is truly as life-changing experience that I would do again in a heartbeat.”

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  1. Shouldn’t she be studying Turkish?

  2. I think that was a slight mistake, she is probably studying Arabic unrelated to studying abroad in Turkey