Maybe studying abroad isn’t so bad

A study abroad student explores Park Güell in Barcelona, Spain.

HSJI, the high school journalism institute at Indiana University held a press conference on July 11, 2017 at 7:00 pm, speaker Danielle Samek, senior study abroad advisor, told the students that studying abroad is safe. “The safety of our students while traveling abroad is of the utmost importance to the university.” If your number one priority is safety, then why are some people getting hurt? All I see on the news about students studying abroad is how they die and get injured. But then again, in a newsroom your worse day is their best day.

“With everything that is going on in the world, you can never ensure safety.” Samek walked around in her dark gray blazer.

IU has 2,800 students studying abroad, and there are over 380 study abroad programs throughout IU. Studies show that one out of four seniors at IU are or have been in the study abroad program. Safety is a huge concern for Indiana University, or IU. Many students at HSJI took photos of Samek as she pulled up her safety slides at the conference. Samek explained that IU has people that live in the countries students are traveling to all year round in case of an emergency. These people can be contacted by the students at all times, whether they’re lost or they are in big trouble. Samek even shared data showing that Western Europeans are more likely to die from suicide or a heat wave than actually dying from a terrorist attack. For every one terrorist attack, there are 433 suicides. Many people, including myself, are worried about terrorists attacks, but if IU has any reason to believe something may happen, they will move the students or pull them from that country. The people that live in these countries all year round actually report back to IU telling them whether they think country is safe or not and why. The proposal process is very thorough for your safety.

I never see people talking about how fun studying abroad is on the news. After listening to Samek and peer counselor Jaedon Wilson my thoughts have changed. Studying abroad might not be as bad as I thought. There are many benefits to studying abroad.

Wilson told the students that, for him, the best things about studying abroad were the following: the opportunities, making new friends and meeting new people, going to unique places and discovering the new cultures, and the independence. Wilson also added that he gained a lot of self reflection and perspective from his experience.

Studying abroad can be really pricey due to the costs of many different things, including food, travel, housing, and many other services. That is one of the bad things about studying abroad, but don’t worry for very much longer. The amount of financial aid for studying abroad has been getting larger and larger over the years. If you have a scholarship, you can also take that to your study abroad program. At IU about nine million dollars go to financial aid for studying abroad each year. Another bad thing about studying abroad is mental health. You might now think much of it, but mental health can be a problem for studying abroad. Even Samek talked about becoming depressed due to cultural shock. The people on site will also be able to help you if you’re having troubles with mental health. At IU you can actually go to counseling before studying abroad just in case something happens. For students with particular needs, it may be more of a challenge to do the study abroad program, but it is solely up to them.

Studying abroad can be a great experience for anyone. It can be life changing and may even change your perspective on the world. Studying abroad originally started at IU in the 19th century. Who would’ve known? IU is ranked fifth in semester study abroad and is also ranked highly in other study abroad categories. When studying abroad at IU, you can go to every some where in every continent but Antarctica. Thankfully, at IU you can still earn credits when you’re studying abroad as long as you’re in an academic study. For example, if you’re just going as an alternative for spring break or for volunteer work you can’t earn any credits. There are 19 different languages spoken throughout the programs, but for most of the programs at IU you can speak English. Some programs require you to speak another language, and some programs require different classes. Almost every major has a study abroad program available, but if you can’t find your program you can always minor in something else to do the study abroad program. Unlike some schools, graduation isn’t delayed due to travel.

Although studying abroad may seem unsafe, many colleges, including IU, are trying to keep students studying abroad comfortable and protected. Going into this I didn’t think the colleges were doing enough to keep their students studying abroad safe, at least that’s how it seemed. Now I recognize that these colleges are doing plenty. Personally, I always freak out when I go somewhere new. I always have a guard up and am afraid of something terrible happening, but after this conference, I feel so much better about studying abroad.

Where do you stand when it comes to the safety of studying abroad? Would you study abroad? After this press conference, I think it’s okay to study abroad. Why not? You may never get another chance to go abroad and have this amazing experience. Someone send me to Greece, I’m on board. When you get to college, try to study abroad. The best thing you can do is to start planning for studying abroad early, and you check out information on studying abroad at IU here.