Before last summer, I knew next to nothing about the world. Sure, I had lived in the world – in the United States for all my 21 years. I had, of course, studied about other countries and visited a few as well. In fact, I thought I was doing just fine at UR, learning useful things about life and getting ready to graduate, get a job and start my “real” life. That was before I went to study abroad – where I believe I learned more in four weeks than I had in my previous three years at UR.

I’m going to tell you a little about my experience and studying abroad in hopes that you too will take a summer, semester or even a year overseas.

The program I took part in was Archeology in Italy, a summer program that brought me to Arezzo, a small city in Tuscany that is thankfully not on most tourists’ itineraries.

Mornings were spent at our dig-site, excavating ancient Roman ruins with a group of Italian archeology students under the direction of professors from the nearby University of Siena.

Taking part in such a project was exciting, to say the least – we exposed ancient structures and found tools and pottery that had been buried for over a 1,000 years. Classes were in the evening, focused on either learning the ancient history of the area, Italian archeology methods and ever so useful language lessons.

This academic curriculum was a unique and rewarding blend of learning new skills, then actually putting them to use.

What really made the experience so valuable, however, were the extracurricular aspects of living in a foreign country.

I realized soon after arriving that, for better or for worse, I was stuck in Italy for a month. Faced with a language I didn’t understand and a culture very different from what I was familiar with, I was forced to learn everything I could about this new world and through doing so, I learned a lot about myself.

Only by trying to become part of a place, where you begin as a complete outsider, can you really learn to think globally and actually know about the world. That is, after all, what studying abroad is really about – pushing yourself to your limits to learn, explore and adapt to new experiences. It’s an experience worthwhile for every UR student, and looking back, I wish I had discovered how easy it is earlier so that I could have gone for a whole semester, or even a year.

So you want to study abroad? Your first step is to visit the Study Abroad Office at 206 Lattimore Hall.

The staff there can help you find a program that suits your goals. No matter which one you pick, though, you’re bound to learn a lot.

“If you factor in summer programs, about 35 percent of UR students study abroad,” Assistant Dean and Director of Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs Jaqueline Levine said. “Most people feel that they have learned and grown socially and intellectually [from their program].”

This is why UR offers such a large amount of study abroad opportunities to choose from – you can study in over 100 countries.

The Sept. 16 deadline to apply for a spring program is fast approaching, so act soon to get your travel on for next semester.

To help you out, let’s take a look at some of the most popular and far out destinations.

London Internships – offered for fall, spring and summer terms

Through this program you can score a prestigious internship, experience living and working abroad, and get academic credit at the same time. Students have interned at the House of Commons and at other political organizations.

Business internships at financial institutions and advertising firms are also available as well as programs in art, theater, and health and research.

Bath, England – offered summer, fall, spring or full year

In the historic city of Bath students study the humanities – English literature, history and related courses in philosophy, women’s studies, music, and politics.

Dijon, France – offered fall, spring or full year

This program in the dynamic city of Dijon is focused on international economics and business at the Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Dijon and offers excellent opportunities for travel within France and all of Europe. To apply you need to have taken at least two semesters of French.

Adelaide, Australia – offered fall, spring or full year

Always wanted to go down under? UR will help you enroll at the University of Adelaide, where you can take classes that will satisfy any major, even for science and engineering majors.

“Adelaide is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. There’s a small town feel – you run into people you know all the time – and yet there is much to do because it is still a decent sized city,” alumnus Dave Haft said of his experience in spring 2002.

Kasugai, Nagoya and Meiji Gakuin, Japan

If you’re an engineering or science major, the program in Kasugai offers classes that will satisfy your degree requirements as well as explore Japan, learn its language and culture.

For those who want to study language and the humanities, or even Japanese studio arts, you can take classes as Nanzan University in Nagoya or Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo or Yokohama.

“I went on the program at Meiji Gakuin, which had excellent staff to help me with my struggles,” junior Justin Levinson said.

“It was a fantastic challenge – unlike a vacation you actually form relationships with people and really get a chance to live a totally different life for a while,” he said.

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