Research by the Institute of International Education has shown that the number of US students studying abroad has more than tripled over the past two decades.
With 262,416 US students studying abroad in 2007-08, the number looks set to increase again in 2011-2012 as studying abroad becomes even more popular.
Matthew Cook, a senior classics major at the University of Mississippi, decided to study abroad last summer in Greece and Turkey for the summer intersession period. Originally from Texas, Cook said that the summer intersession was the ideal amount of time to study abroad because a year or a semester would have been far too long for him.
Cook spent seven weeks studying in southeastern Europe. He said that his time abroad had given him “a different perspective on things back home; a different way of looking at things.”
During his program, Cook took two three-week courses, with a week in between which he used to travel.
Cook was fortunate enough to travel to some of Europe’s most beautiful cities such as Berlin, Brussels and Amsterdam. He also explored many different parts of Greece and Turkey during his stay.
While studying in Greece, Cook lived in the capital city Athens. One of the world’s oldest cities.
In Turkey he resided in Kusadasi, a beautiful port town on the Aegean Turkish coast.
“Being immersed in a different culture makes you think things through more when you return home,” Cook said.
Cook was interested in studying abroad but credits his classics advisor, Aileen Ajootian, chair of the classics department, for pointing him in the right direction.
His advisor pointed him toward the Arcadia University, a private university based in Philadelphia, whose study abroad program was ranked No. 1 in the Open Doors 2009 Report.
The University is globally recognized for its study abroad programs and offers programs to students at more than 300 US colleges and universities.
Arcadia organized Cook’s program as well as his accommodation.
As it is an American university, Cook lived and studied with other American students. He made a number of close friends during the seven weeks, many of which he still keeps in contact with.
The Classics Department at UM also offered Cook a grant of $4,000 to help cover the costs of the program. While the trip overall was relatively expensive, the grant helped a lot toward tuition and flight fees.
Cook said that the application process was not diffi cult, but he did have to make certain requirements to be eligible for the program.
Cook’s program required a GPA of 3.0 or higher. He competed for one of 25 spaces.
Not all study abroad programs are as competitive as this, but it is normal to expect them to ask for minimum requirements such as a GPA of 2.5 or higher.
While Cook said that it was difficult to adjust to not speaking regularly to his friends and family, he had little time to miss home. Cook was constantly busy and making the most of his short time abroad.
“You have to do it,” Cook said.
“Do it for yourself. If you have the opportunity, don’t hesitate.”
For Cook, like many students who study abroad, it was definitely a life-changing and maturing experience.
Students thinking of studying abroad for 2011 summer intersession or perhaps 2011-2012 fall or spring semesters, Ole Miss has its own Study Abroad Office, located on the third floor of the Martindale Building. It is also advisable for students to contact their department to find out more major and program-specific details.