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National Study Abroad Day Brings Students Together to Share Experiences

Gannon's Office of Learning Abroad hosted an open house for students interested in pursuing studies overseas.

Gannon's Office of Learning Abroad hosted an open house for students interested in pursuing studies overseas.

Gannon University’s Office of Learning Abroad celebrated National Study Abroad Day on Feb. 24 by bringing students together to learn about the unique possibilities Gannon offers to study overseas.

Through casual one-on-one and group conversations, former study abroad students enlightened the room by discussing with interested students their experiences studying in countries such as Australia, Italy, France and Thailand, among others.

Students spoke with Emma Oas, a junior public health major who participated in a summer abroad trip to Lille, France. Oas earned credits toward her degree while taking classes at the Catholic University of Lille, a multicultural university situated in the heart of a vibrant European city. The immersive educational experience combined with opportunities to explore the city’s culture clarified for Oas her decision to pursue public health.  

“Before I went to France, I wasn’t sure about my major and didn’t know if it was the right path. I went to France and was immersed in the culture and learned the global aspect of health. The experience solidified that I liked my major while also combining my interest in travel,” Oas said.

Oas said she would encourage students who are considering taking their studies abroad not to hesitate. “Just do it. No questions asked. It’s such a great experience that you won’t get anywhere else,” Oas said.

Sydney Fountain, a junior physician assistant major, also shared with interested students about her study abroad trips to Thailand and Australia. Fountain said the programs were impactful in her pursuit of a career as a physician assistant. She referenced her experience teaching English as part of a leadership course.

“I met a lot of people from a different culture. In the physician assistant realm, patients of all cultures will walk through the door, and you will need to communicate with them. I learned how you can find commonalities with others even if you don’t speak the same language,” she said.

Fountain had a similar message to students who are considering learning abroad: “Definitely look into it and do it. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” she said.

Oas and Fountain are two of approximately 180 students who earned academic credit by participating in international and domestic short- and long-term programs during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Meagan McHugh, director of Learning Abroad and International Academic Programs, said she finds reward in seeing students return home transformed through their study abroad experiences.  

“Not only do students exhibit substantial personal growth such as greater independence, problem-solving, flexibility, leadership, and cultural adaptivity, but I also see tremendous growth in how these students interact with others and in their relationship building,” McHugh said.

She said studying abroad is an opportunity for growth that requires pushing some boundaries.

“In addition to real-world application of concepts learned in the classroom, study abroad exposes students to different ways of thinking and problem solving and facilitates the development of intercultural competencies,” McHugh said. “Through exposure to different cultures, students are able to understand their own cultural values and biases and examine them in a way they are not able to without being taken out of their own cultural bubble. Many students… have bolstered their self-confidence in terms of being able to listen to and learn from people whose experiences and value systems differ from their own.”

McHugh said seeking opportunities for personal and academic growth, career preparedness, and diversification are all great reasons to study abroad.

The Office of Learning Abroad offers international, credit-bearing experiences for students of every major with scholarships available. Students can choose from one of Gannon’s study abroad programs including Gannon: Inspired Faculty-Led Travel, and the semester abroad and summer abroad programs.

Discover your possibilities by learning more about Gannon’s study abroad programs here.

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