When most college students think about studying abroad, they might envision crepes in front of the Eiffel Tower, riding a double-decker bus or lying on a beach in Italy. European study abroad programs have dominated the market for college students searching for international opportunities, yet there is a slew of other countries with cheaper costs and greater benefits. If any student is thinking about studying abroad, they should start by looking outside of Europe.
University of Georgia students take advantage of the study abroad program in large numbers, and the school is ranked 13th in the nation for study abroad participation, with more than 2,600 participants in the 2017-2018 academic year. The university beat out all other institutions in the state of Georgia, and the UGA Office of Global Engagement is dedication to satisfy the growing demand of students looking to study internationally. The office places students all over the globe.
Sthefany Pedraza, a senior finance major, studied abroad in China this past summer on the Terry Business in China + Internship program.
“I chose to apply to China because it was offering an extra challenge,” Pedraza said. “I wanted to learn about their culture, and I really liked how challenging not knowing a language can be and learning to adapt.”
That being said, Europe and programs based in other Western countries tend to overshadow other international opportunities UGA has to offer. The top study abroad programs at UGA are UGA Oxford and UGA Cortona, based in England and Italy, respectively. UGA has established two residential campuses in both locations, making it highly appealing for students and the school, and it shows. Italy and the United Kingdom are the top destinations for UGA study abroad. Six out of the top 10 countries are European. Two of the others – Australia and New Zealand – are also Westernized countries.
UGA offers a plethora of non-European study abroad programs that often go unnoticed. Most people choose a Europe-based program because they’re familiar, but what’s the point of studying abroad if it doesn’t push you out of your comfort zone?
Although the coronavirus has forced UGA to cancel all trips to China temporarily, there are plenty of other non-European options. Not only will studying abroad in countries like South Africa or Peru expose students to a distinctive non-Western culture. UGA offers scholarships to study abroad in locations other than Europe. A U.S. dollar is typically worth more in countries outside of Europe, so saving money is easier. Most importantly, studying abroad outside of Europe will be more noticeable since it’s much more uncommon.
Marion Cassim, a senior marketing major, studied abroad in China with Pedraza. Cassim comes from an Asian background.
“I was surprised by my well-receptive American UGA group,” Cassim said. “I believe understanding people and where they come from is so important and leads to so much growth and maturity, so stay open-minded.”
Studying abroad offers benefits regardless of the location. Students get to experience a different culture, try different foods and adapt to a unique lifestyle. However, going from one western country to another limits the study abroad experience. For any student considering going abroad, don’t immediately click on a program where you can live your Parisian dreams. Instead, consider hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro or exploring temples in Bali, Indonesia. There is a whole world outside of our Western bubble.