By Samantha O’Conner
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Traveling to another country is a dream held by many. For students at EOU, it can become a reality. The Study Abroad and National Student Exchange programs have been available to students for years.
“This program has been offered forever,” said Janet Camp, advisor to the Study Abroad and NSE programs here at EOU. “I have been here six years and I know it was here ten years before me,” she added.
For students interested in studying abroad, the process begins with eligibility. “Typically students need to be of sophomore standing after 45 credits. Each program is different, so GPA requirements can vary from 2.5 and 3.0. As far as eligibility, that is the standard.” Camp said. “Students should just come to my office in Inlow 109 and we will just go from there, brainstorming and we will get started with the process. I wish all students would go. Every student who has gone in the six years I have been here has said it was the greatest experience.”
The Study Abroad program offers students the ability to travel around the world to countries such as Japan, China, Spain, Germany, England and many others.
“We work with five other organizations affiliated with EOU that offer study abroad programs to our students,” said Camp. “When I say affiliated with, it means that our faculty has approved the programs and the course offerings, so the courses will transfer to EOU credits, which is great for students. And within that, I have yet to find a student who has wanted to go to a country not represented by one of the five organizations.”
Among the many students taking advantage of the Study Abroad program, EOU senior Katja Marek traveled to Sheffield, England.
The first step for any student is to apply for the program. An initial essay explaining why the student wants to go is also required. “There is money you have to pay throughout the process.” Marek said. “I did two more essays and after that I was approved for the program.”
“I started my paperwork early for the Study Abroad,” Marek said, “because I knew I wanted to study abroad when I learned about Sheffield through a documentary. I didn’t want to learn a language and I thought, ‘England, hey, cool!’ I also learned that Sheffield was a sister school to EOU.”
Marek explained that, to get her student visa, she had to give a reason for her trip and the length of her stay. She also had to show that she had the money to live while in the United Kingdom.
“After that I had to purchase the plane ticket,” she continued. “The earlier you get them, the cheaper they are.”
Reflecting on the first moments leaving for her trip, Marek said, “It was terrifying, in one word. Literally, I spent a year preparing for all of the applications to go abroad and get my student visa, get my plane ticket and then I get on the plane going ‘What am I doing here?’ But once I was there, it was amazing. It was the best year of my life.”
Marek recalled, “I remember the bus trip from Manchester Airport to Sheffield where I studied and, literally, the grass was greener. It looked chemical. I was terrified! But the entire year was amazing.”
In Sheffield, Marek lived with five other young women; three from England, one from Maryland and one from Hong Kong. “I got to know my three English roommates the best and they were my support system,” she said.
“It’s an amazing learning experience,” Marek concluded. “It increases your confidence to be out on your own and it really tells you what kind of person you are just by living by those experiences, living on your own. I would definitely encourage people to study abroad and even if you’re just thinking about it go and talk to Janet. She will lay out programs and universities that are specifically for your major that have good programs.”
Eager to study abroad, just like Marek, Chris Leeman looks forward to studying in Ireland.
“I have always wanted to study abroad. I’m a communications major and I wanted to be able to see that outside of the classroom. I wanted to go to an English-speaking class and a lot of my family has been to Ireland,” Leeman said. ”They spoke really highly of it and I’ve always had the interest to go to Ireland. University College Cork is where I will be attending for five months.”
The process for Leeman was long as well. He mentioned that “a lot of little things” will come up during the process up and students will need to be ready for everything to keep moving forward.
“It’s overwhelming at times,” Leeman added, “but worth it. A lot of it is you have to figure out what your courses are equivalent to in the school and seeing if it will match with a course here. You have to see what is required of you for them and financial aid is a big one.”
Leeman said, “I’m really excited for this and exploring Ireland. The more I research places to go to, the longer the list gets. I look forward to seeing everything.”
In addition to the Study Abroad program, the NSE offers students the chance to travel close to home in the US, Canada and Guam. Through this, Janae Bunker eagerly looks forward to studying in Hawaii.
“I choose Hawaii for several reasons,” said Bunker. “First, I have always wanted to travel abroad, and when I went to Janet Camp last winter, I was dead set on studying in Italy. However, my parents were not thrilled with the idea of me leaving the country at 18 or 19 years old. Janet mentioned that another student had the same problem as I did. To get her fill of adventure and make her parents feel more at ease, she decided to apply for the NSE program.”
Bunker spoke with the other student about Hawaii and the two became excited about the opportunity to travel together. Bunker mentioned that during a family vacation to Oahu several years ago, she fell in love with the diversity and peacefulness and wanted to return someday.
“I am currently a junior majoring in Liberal Studies,” Bunker said, “in the hopes of applying for the MAT elementary teaching program in the summer of 2015.Mmy minors are Business, Writing and English for Speakers of Other Languages. In Hawaii, I will mostly be taking classes towards this goal. However, as an NSE student, I will be taking a few classes on the Hawaiian culture as well. University of Hawaii at Hilo’s NSE coordinator has assured me that we will also be taking several trips as a group to explore and learn the Hawaiian life style, which I am super excited about.”
The process, according to Bunker, was “a fairly simple one.” She applied in the early spring, with the help of Janet Camp, and waited for admission. The application was very similar to any college admittance application. Once admitted to the program, she had to obtain signatures from several people and fill out some basic paper work. The decision of when to go and how long to study there was also made. “Victoria and I both agreed that one semester in the spring would be perfect, especially seeing as I will be in 70 degree weather while La Grande is covered in snow,” Bunker added.
During the last few months before departure, Bunker will fill out more paperwork, obtain health records and look at course pre-requisites. “The last thing I have to do is register for classes and buy some sunscreen!”