OPINION | Study abroad experiences translate to campus life

Mimi Muir, Contributing Writer

(Hailie Goldthorpe)

As COVID-19 regulations are lifted in many places worldwide, students are able to study abroad for the first time in a while. Tulane University students can apply to a variety of abroad programs and take courses that contribute to their degree in countries around the world. 

Studying abroad not only allows students to fully emerge in a new culture and experience new places but also encourages them to foster relationships globally and gain new perspectives. Educational experiences may include research opportunities, working directly with professors and traveling to new cities. 

Greer Mackenzie, a junior at Tulane, spent her semester studying public health and anthropology in Copenhagen, Denmark. In Denmark, she went on a variety of field trips with her teachers to safe drug inset facilities, photography exhibits, multi-purpose community venues that support the Copenhagen community and consumers and yoga studios with alternative therapies. 

Her healthcare class traveled to Finland and Estonia to visit hospitals, cancer societies and rehabilitation centers to compare the American and Denmark health care systems. Mackenzie stated that she was shocked to learn that in Estonia, women are given three years of paid maternity leave, and in Copenhagen, every resident is guaranteed free and universal health care. 

Mackenzie, along with students studying abroad all over the globe, bring their experiences and knowledge back to their college campuses and hopefully into their future careers. Reflecting on her other public health courses such as epidemiology, environmental science and foundations of health care systems, she can compare different European health care systems to the United States. 

Students are gaining a wide variety of international experiences and opportunities. Business students in Copenhagen have learned to create an online application and work during the semester on publishing the application, as well as developing computer software and design skills.

Another business student, Michael Ott, shared that he has already received loans from his abroad program to jumpstart his own application, which connects alumni with graduating students in search of jobs and internships. He plans to continue developing the application when he returns to the U.S.

Tulane student Amelia Schelle studies business. Her business class traveled to London and met with representatives at Wimbledon to discuss marketing techniques and funding. She also attended high tea and visited Buckingham palace to watch the guard change. 

In Tromso, Norway, Tulane student Ethan Manin is studying polar biology. He visited salmon farms to learn about mass food production and the quality of seafood. Additionally, he enjoyed dog sledding and a fjord tour with his class. Students are getting unique, hands-on experiences that they can bring to their studies back in New Orleans. 

Weldon Chan, from Cornell University, shared that in his terrorism and counterterrorism class he met with political prisoners from both sides of the troubles — the Ulster Volunteer Force and Irish Republican Army — who shared their experiences from growing up in the conflict, partaking in the armed conflict as well as the modus operandi of their paramilitary faction. This student can use his interaction with the prisoners to engage in discussion when he returns to his policy classes back home.

Other Tulane students studying in art in Spain shared that they have attended a variety of museums in Madrid and appreciated learning more about the culture. Embracing different experiences, places and people are just some of the benefits of studying abroad. 

Living situations also dramatically differ from Tulane’s campus as students abroad have the option to live in a homestay with a local family with students from the home country or with students from other U.S. colleges. Growing one’s network and collaborating with local citizens allows students to improve intercultural communication and foreign language skills while developing new friendships. 

Having the opportunity to enrich one’s educational experience and spend a semester away from New Orleans promotes conversation, increases personal independence and helps one find their identity and confidence. Learning from professors with international backgrounds and hearing personal anecdotes contributes to students’ educational growth. When students return to Tulane, they will exchange their experiences, ask questions and apply cultural experiences to grow and spread advanced thinking. 

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