When students go to college, they’re presented with a myriad of choices—everything from their majors and minors to their classes and their social groups.
One of the options they’re typically given is to travel and study in a foreign country. Seton Hill University (SHU) offers those same options to students when they enter in their freshman year.
“These are opportunities to enrich their lives. You learn about other cultures, but also about your own,” said Michele Chossat, professor and advisor of the study abroad program at SHU.
SHU provides many opportunities to study in a special project.
“SHU supported my experience by providing me with a scholarships to study abroad, and my pro- gram fees were cheaper than my tuition at SHU,” said Karl Jacobs, a 2012 SHU graduate. “The other advantage with SHU is that you aren’t limited to only a few universities. You can go anywhere. Madame Chossat and the Study Abroad Center can find you a program to go nearly any county and study anything you want.”
Jacobs became an advocate for studying abroad after visiting Germany and France in 2007. He’s since studied in Belgium and visited the Netherlands and foreign countries. Through the Seton Hill Study Away Program, students have the opportunity to take courses in other parts of the world or the United States with SHU faculty. They can also take courses at universities that partner with SHU.
Their most popular options are those during the January and May terms, also known as J- and M- Term. The most popular trips are to Italy, England, Ireland and Spain, among others and typically last two to three weeks. On average, 30 to 40 students pursue this option every year.
Another option for students is to study for an entire semester in another country. They can take a full course load that will count towards their major and still enjoy another culture. Each year, roughly six to eight students study away for an entire semester.
SHU currently part- ners with four inde- pendent companies to send interested students overseas along with a handful of other com- panies and agencies. They can help students prepare for their trips, seek financial aid and plan their courses. SHU will even pay for your passport if you complete
Slovakia. He also has plans to go to the United Kingdom for Christmas and to celebrate New Years in Sarajevo.
After obtaining his degree at SHU in international relations, focusing on French, Jacobs moved to Austria to further his education. “If you told my freshman self that I would be pursuing a Master’s degree in Austria, I probably wouldn’t believe you,” said Jacobs.
Several SHU professors often take special classes to study in foreign countries. One such instance was during the 2013 May term. Maureen Vissat, assistant professor of art, accompanied a group of 20 students to Italy.
“As an art historian, the allure of Italy never fades,” said Vissat. “Students are able to view for themselves the tradi- tional canon of art his- tory and to experience the part not as remote, but part of the living present. The power of art if life-changing.”
“When I walked into the Academica in Flor- ence, I was completely taken aback by the sheer size of the statue of David,” said senior Maria Lemmo. “I got to experience some fantastic art on my trip. I stood in rooms with The Birth of Venus and La Primavera by Botticelli, I was able ot take in the beauty of the Sistine Chapel, and I even got to examine the many layers of thick paint on Jackson Pollock paintings.”
Lemmo continued by reflecting on the current artists and their handiwork. “ I saw glassblowers at their craft on the Island of Murano, I witnessed Venetian mask makers creating handmade master- pieces, and I got to meet a lovely Florentine man named Abu who painted me a beautiful watercolor painting of orange poppies,” said Lemmo.
Another trip taken during the 2013 May term was Judith Garcia-Quismondo’s journey to Spain. The students who went intensively studied the Spanish language, history and culture while enjoying the many cities in their travels.
SHU also partners with the Semester at Sea program to provide students with a four month opportunity to sail across the world and visit 12 different countries along the way.
Sophomore Sarah Tady, art therapy major, is preparing to participate in the Semester at Sea program in the following year.
“It will give me a much better perspective on how people live in other countries by allowing me to experience so many different cultures and interacting with things I would never get to interact with otherwise,” said Tady
There are a number of ways that students can benefit from their study abroad experiences. They can create memories, gain insight to a new culture or make new friends. One of the benefits they might overlook is how it aids them professionally.