Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience, as students are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in other cultures while taking courses in a variety of countries.
Before beginning the application process, students must attend a Study Abroad 101 information session, where they can hear from the director of Academic Engagement about study abroad options and ask questions about the process.
Garrett English, director of Academic Engagement, said many students who study abroad grow from their experience and return more confident and independent.
“You’re going to learn about new cultures, perspective and see new places. On a personal level, you’re going to gain a lot of lifelong friendships. You’re with students who are studying abroad for the first time as well. Just being in that close proximity — being able to travel together and study together really builds some strong friendships,” English said.
English said when it comes to California Baptist University students, the most popular locations to travel to include Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom. However, there is a huge variety of countries from which students can choose.
“I would encourage more students to go to Latin America and Asia because there are a lot of opportunities there, as well,” English said.
In order to qualify for study abroad, first-time freshmen must complete at least a year at CBU and transfer students must complete at least a semester. CBU works with third-party organizations that have relationships with universities in other countries. Most of these companies require at least a 2.5 GPA for students to study with them. They provide academic advising and onsite assistance.
“There’s an adviser that gets assigned to you and they guide you through the study abroad process. They also have residential staff on the ground that are checking in with you to make sure you’re safe,” English said.
English said he believes students should consider many factors when deciding where to study abroad. This includes preferred climate, desired travel, amount of elective or general education requirements needed and whether they can speak the language of the host country.
“If you’re looking to travel to a lot of countries, Australia is probably not a good option, for instance, because that would be a lot harder and more expensive. Europe could be a good option,” English said.
Students can use federal aid such as California Grants or Pell Grants to cover study abroad expenses. However, institutional aid such as CBU scholarships or grants cannot be applied.
Stephanee Fontanilla, junior communication sciences and disorders major, studied abroad at the American University of Rome in Italy for one month during the summer of 2018.
“It took some getting used to the living areas, the lifestyle and learning the language, even for basic things like ordering food and gelato,” Fontanilla said. “It was interesting to apply what I learned in my classes to the places we visited, as well as interacting with the Italian people. I also met a lot of new friends from other schools who I still keep in touch with occasionally.”
Fontanilla said she learned a lot about the Catholic Church and the need for the gospel in Italy during her time abroad.
“In my program, I signed up to do a mission aspect while studying abroad where I was paired with a mission mentor. My mission mentor has lived in Italy for about two to four years now and she taught me the history of the Catholic Church and how hard it is to spread the gospel in a place where Catholicism was born,” Fontanilla said.
Fontanilla said she highly encourages students to study abroad because it provides ways to grow in every aspect of life.
“You get the chance to learn first-hand about the history and culture of a country, step out of your comfort zone, meet new people and it is honestly the opportunity of a lifetime. If anyone is offered the chance to study abroad, go for it,” Fontanilla said.
Amy Duncan, junior nutrition major, studied abroad at the University Las Veritas in San Jose, Costa Rica, during the spring of 2019.
Duncan said studying abroad gave her a new perspective on life by giving her an opportunity to learn about a different culture and way of life.
“The first month was an adjustment that involved several huge travel trips, confusion, stress and a lot of social life as I was trying to make new friends for my term abroad,” Duncan said. “The second month involved a lot of determination to get myself adjusted, comfortable and learn to be respectful by fitting into their society.”
Study Abroad 101 information sessions are usually held three times a month in the Business Building, Room 212. Students interested in study abroad can contact English, check out the study abroad page on InsideCBU, or follow @cbu_goes_abroad on Instagram to stay up-to-date on upcoming session dates.