By LaChonne Reese
The Study Abroad Program gives students educational opportunities to broaden their worldview by travelling across the globe to experience new cultures, traditions, and languages. Students at the college have the choice to travel to Peru, Italy, Spain, or St. Lucia for almost as long as a month! These opportunities are for any student interested in global learning and new discoveries.
Students who are at least 18 years old by commencement of travel with a G.P.A. of 2.5 or higher are eligible to participate in Study Abroad Programs. The Study Abroad Office is located on the Ammerman campus in the Riverhead Building, Room 318.
Katie Nowak of the Ammerman campus took the opportunity to travel to Santiago De Compostela, Spain last July and to her it was “inspiring”.
Nowak, 32, studied and received credits for Intermediate Spanish I and Special Topics in Modern Spain during her time studying abroad. “I learned to embrace life. Watching men and women, old and young, from all around the world come to travel the pilgrimage was inspiring. I walked down the same cobblestone streets that so many have walked before for hundreds of years. I was staring history in the face. This program makes me want to do more, to know more” said Nowak.
One thing Nowak enjoyed the most was the Festival of St James. An annual celebration of the life and deeds of James, son of Zebedee, on Saint James’ Day. “Every year on July 24th, in the Plaza del Obradoiro, there is a pyrotechnics display illuminating the story of Saint James, one of Jesus’ apostles. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced”.
Now imagine yourself traveling to a whole new world celebrating traditions and learning as you go. The Study Abroad Program does not just give students an educational gain but it opens your eyes and helps students learn about themselves, their home countries and culture through the lens of the global community.
“I have a greater respect for culture. This town holds onto their history and embraces it”.
Nowak was new to the Study Abroad Program and going in “was nervous because [she] was going alone”. “It seemed that most students went with a friend. Once we all met it was as if we became a family. There was no need to be nervous” said Nowak.
Nowak adds “I wish it was less expensive, but I believe it was worth every cent”.
Expenses for the trip range from $2,500-$4,500. Depending on where you want to go and for which class you choose to accept credits for, the airfare and tuition may or may not be included. Several $1000 scholarships will be awarded to support Study Abroad program students’ participation in the program. All students who have applied to participate in the Study Abroad program are eligible. A 3.5 GPA is required to apply for the scholarship.
“All of the places we experienced [was both educational and fun]. The Medieval Fair at La Coruña was extremely fun. Most of the people from the town were dressed up and a parade walked through the streets. We learned about the city and its celebrations, then we were able to explore the area and enjoy the festival”.
“When we went to visit the Cidade da Cultura de Galicia, our tour guide was informative and funny. We saw beautiful pieces of art and, by chance, met one of the architects that worked on the building. Afterwards, we climbed the outside wall”.
The program leaders for this specific trip were Professors Ana Menendez and Nieves Alonso Almagro. “There are few words to express. Brilliant women who have hearts of gold” said Nowak.
Overall Nowak seemed to have a successful experience in Spain. An experience completely “worth every cent”. From the people to the traditions practiced, Nowak would “absolutely” do it all again.
Gunsel Pehlivan, 22, is majoring in Media Management and Programming with a minor in Film Production student at SUNY New Paltz. Pehlivan participated in the study abroad program at her college. She traveled to Madrid, Spain during her fall semester of 2013.
“I took production and film studies courses such is script writing, history of film, video, media technology, and media law. I received credits for all of the classes” said Pehlivan.
The Study Abroad Program at SUNY New Paltz, like the program at SCCC, is beneficial as well. Pehlivan mentioned how “[she] met wonderful people from around the world and traveled different places in Spain and also around Europe. I also improved my Spanish”.
Something that was personally beneficial to Pehlivan was how she “saw things from the perspective of people from all over the world. I broadened my horizons”.
Like Nowak, Pehlivan was “nervous at first because [she] didn’t know exactly what [she] was going into”.
“It was my first time away from my family for that long but I got used to it. I am more confident about doing things independently now”.
The process of applying and get yourself situated for an international trip like this was “long”. “It was a long process due to the long application, getting recommendations, finding housing, getting my visa, booking my flight, etc. However, it was worth it!”
One of Pehlivan’s best experiences that was both fun and educational was when she took a cross country road trip. “We took a road trip cross country in Switzerland and saw a lot of cool cities. Crossing from the German side to the French side was interesting because you see the cultural difference within the same country”.
If given the opportunity then go. “There is a lot to gain and nothing to lose!”