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study_abroad_imagesThe number of U.S. students studying abroad has more than doubled in the last 15 years, according to Forbes magazine. But the overall numbers are still relatively small, with fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students studying abroad during their undergraduate years.

Students who choose to spend part of their college career studying in another country gain a global perspective in our increasingly global world, according to Steven Seaworth, vice president for external affairs at the Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University.

“Studying abroad has its benefits. You can gain the international experience preferred by some employers by including an internship in your study abroad semester,” Seaworth says. “You’ll also gain an understanding of another culture, and you can hone your foreign language skills.”

His advice:

  • The cost of study abroad depends on the type of   program and length of study. Students need to consider not only tuition costs but also travel, housing and personal expenses. Make sure the program you’re considering clearly outlines all fees and doesn’t have hidden charges. Financial aid is often available for undergraduates studying abroad for a full year or single semester. Study abroad programs vary by university. Check with your university’s study abroad office to learn what programs are available to you.
  • Some of the most popular study abroad destinations are the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain, but less popular destinations can offer advantages. In countries
    with fewer study abroad students, it’s sometimes easier to integrate into the local culture and academic system.
  • Study abroad programs can be competitive to get into, but don’t let that discourage you. Just look for the program that has the location, academic offerings, duration, housing options, excursions and student support services that are right for you.
  • Study abroad doesn’t mean delaying graduation. By searching for programs early, working closely with your study abroad office (and faculty) and choosing your program wisely, you should be
    able to get a full semester’s worth of credit and graduate on schedule.

Brooke Kovanda

brooke_kovandaBrooke Kovanda had never really considered studying abroad. Then she saw friends who were upper classmen leaving on their trips and got curious. “Everyone said ‘this is the time to do it…when you’re young.'”

She was so worried about whether she could afford it that she almost didn’t turn in her application. But with encouragement from her friends (Kovanda admits they took her application and turned it in for her), she took the leap. She planned ahead to make it work financially. “I worked like a mad woman,” she says. “I worked two jobs and turned down dinner invitations.”

Then came the trip—five months in Freemantle in Western Australia—and the payoff. “I had never left the country before. It changed how I see the world.

“Aside from adventures like holding a koala, jumping off a cliff into shark-infested waters, exploring Singapore, scuba-diving in Bali, etc., the experience SOLIDIFIED why I chose the major I did.”

Kovanda says travel helped bring out her creative side and made her more confident she could work in advertising. She not only took classes toward her degree while studying abroad, she walked into a small local newspaper and got an internship that was required for her journalism minor.

As for cost, tuition and housing was the same as if she had stayed on campus at Notre Dame, something she was already paying for on her own. The extra work she took on in advance of the trip became her disposable income when in Australia. Notre Dame paid for her flights to and from Australia.

Age: 22
Hometown: Rockport, Ill.
School: University of Notre Dame
Degree: Marketing
Graduation Date: May 2015
Employer: PERQ, a marketing technology and advertising
firm in Indianapolis