Editorial, Opinion

STAFF EDIT: Experience abroad

BU has long been known for its many international programs. The popularity of international internship programs, particularly, has spiked in recent years. As more and more students look overseas for resume-boosting job experience, the real value of study abroad programs is becoming lost in translation.
Since Boston University’s first study abroad programs started in the early 20th century, the idea of experiencing another culture while furthering one’s academic goals has prompted thousands of students to ship out of New England for a semester or two. The worldly perspective students gain from BU programs, which now number more than 75, contributes to the university’s international reputation.
The life experience picked up by spending a semester or a year in a foreign country or faraway city is almost invaluable in today’s globalized world. Unfortunately, many more students’ are determining the value the study abroad experiences in terms of internships and references, rather than personal growth. These assets, though important and necessary for a proper international program to thrive, should not be the sole motivating factor in the decision to study abroad.
Internships can be found in just about every study abroad program BU offers. But the point of leaving Boston is to gain experience and perspective in a different culture. If a comparable internship is available to a student in Boston, then going all the way to Prague would be a waste if the student spends most of his time in an office. Study abroad is not supposed to be an extended vacation with books, but it is not supposed to serve as an entry-level job with books either.
When deposited in a new country, it only makes sense to explore and see as much of the new place and people as possible ‘-‘- to experience as much as possible. It’s about making international connections and gaining perspective on your own culture through the lens of another. And while students should not make the decision to go abroad based solely on location, it’s even more important to not make the decision based on a future career. There’s a lot more out there to gain than just job experience.

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