Jessica Small
Contributing Writer

Watch the sunset from the Champ de Mars with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Travel through Mexico and visit with local community centers, families, and im- migrants to learn their stories along the way. Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef and explore the world’s larg- est coral reef ecosystem.

Every year, hundreds of students from USF get the chance to have these experiences as they embark on adventures through study abroad programs and the Arrupe Justice Immersion Program.

Amy Depree, the Program Assistant for the Center for Global Education at USF, noticed that there has been an increase in interest from students in studying abroad over the years, especially as the world has be- come more globalized and connected.

USF students who choose to study abroad are able to fulfill graduation requirements and utilize financial aid toward their time abroad. Students can participate in programs throughout the world for a semester or an entire academic year, in addition to short term pro- grams. “Many students choose short-term programs,” Depree said, “It offers them more flexibility and im- mersion opportunities.”

For students that prefer a short term opportunity, the Arrupe Justice Immersion Program through USF includes options to visit places such as Peru, China, and India, in addition to others for anywhere from a week to three weeks. During these Immersion trips, students are able to live and work in an economically-margin- alized community—domestically or internationally— during summer, intersession, and spring break, accord- ing to the University Ministry (UM)’s website.

“Immersions are a great way to get more of a global perspective while staying rooted at USF,” said Andrea Powell, Resident Minister from UM. Powell is currently a trip leader for the Arrupe Justice Immersion Program. For some students, study abroad and immersion programs provide a unique opportunity to be fully engaged in another culture. Haley Heramb, a senior international business major, found that her time abroad allowed her to come into contact with a new culture first hand. Heramb, who studied abroad in Paris, France during Spring ’14, said, “I realized that no matter how much you research, hear stories, learn in classes, or see via photos, you don’t truly experience a place without actually being there.”

Junior Chris Lamelas plays with children during his semester abroad at Casa Bayanihan during fall 2013. PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY MINISTRY
Junior Chris Lamelas plays with children during his semester abroad at Casa Bayanihan during fall 2013. PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY MINISTRY

Senior kinesiology major, Kylie Sullivan, decided to study abroad during Spring ’14 in Madrid, Spain. “I wanted to do it to travel, that was the number one thing. And through traveling, to gain new experiences and to experience a new culture,” said Sullivan, “I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone with a new language.”

On a local level, USF students are introduced to new and different cultures every day as a result of the diverse campus and city. Depree explained that going abroad teaches lessons that differ from those that are learned through daily encounters on campus.

There is something special about a study abroad pro- gram because you are attending school, taking classes like you would at your home university, but also fully immersing yourself in a different culture,” said Heramb.

However, for those students who cannot travel abroad or unable to, Heramb stated that it is possible to learn similar lessons to those learned while studying abroad without leaving USF, if one seeks our new cul- tural experiences.

In addition to a greater understanding of a new culture, going to a new country also allows some students to better understand themselves. Reflecting on her Immersion trip to Colombia as a student, Powell said, “[The immersion trip] humbled me in a new way and focused my attention on what it was that I really wanted to care about.”

Senior communications major Bernadette De Mesa, who studied in Sydney, Australia during Spring ’14, said, “Oftentimes when we are in school, we’re in this bubble within USF.” De Mesa added, “But going abroad makes you realize that there is so much more out there in the world–so much to see, so much to do. You realize that your once narrow-minded outlook on life has many more options and opportunities.”

* Photo courtesy of University Ministry

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