2011 Study Abroad Tour: Entry #1

January 26, 2011 at 4:17 PM | Posted in (All Posts) | Leave a comment

In less than a month now, I’ll be sitting on an airplane, traveling all the way to South Korea to participate in a “study abroad” program through ETSU. I’ve been a student here at ETSU for over three semesters now, and if you have told me over a year ago that I would be this far along in the process, ready to buy my plane ticket and “finalize” all this, I would be stunned.

For those who don’t know, a “study abroad” program is basically a student exchange program. In my case, I will be studying at Keimyung University in South Korea. Just like I’ve done at my time at ETSU, I will live on campus there, have a mealplan, take a full 12-credit class schedule and have my schooling experience for one semester there in South Korea. The best part is that the program is through ETSU, so the classes I take there will transfer back towards my degree here.

The reason I explain this is to use my situation as an example. I won’t be sitting on that airplane until sometime in late February, because the semester at Keimyung University starts on March 2, but the bulk of my preparation for the trip is done. For now, I can at least tell you how I’ve gotten this far and help you get started should you have an interest in studying abroad like I did.

Sometime in April of 2010, I found myself sitting in my dorm, hands hovered over the keys of my laptop. I was supposed to be working on a paper for an English class, but my mind was wandering. Studying abroad and traveling anywhere was something I had been thinking about during that entire semester. I had spoken to one of my teacher’s after class that day, and she had given me the email address of someone in the International Programs and Services at ETSU. I went to Goldmail and began typing out an email to this person, basically saying that I was interested in the possibility of studying abroad, but I didn’t know where to start.

I got a reply within the next day, and I was given a name of someone to talk to — Kelly Hill, the ETSU Study Abroad Adviser. I made an appointment to meet with her in her office in Yoakley Hall, and she was (and still is) the most helpful person on the planet. I didn’t even know where to start. I had a few countries in mind, but I felt so lost in this process, yet it was so comforting to know that ETSU has an entire office dedicated to helping students study abroad.

THIS should be your first step if you want to study abroad. Contact Kelly Hill, or just stop by by Yoakley Hall and ask to get some information. No one’s going to make you sign in blood or scare you away, and everyone there is really nice. In all honesty, I was probably only 30% sure I wanted to study abroad at that time, but after my first meeting with Kelly, I felt like my interest was peaking. I saw how simple and laid out my options were. I had to do some research on my own and consider a lot of things, but it was the start I was looking for.

I walked out of the office that day with a stack full of pamphlets and a list of websites. I spent the next few weeks of school flipping through papers and after a lot of consideration, I decided it was something I wanted to do. I can still clearly remember the look on my parents’ faces when I told them what I was thinking, but the good news is that they had a lot of time to let it soak in.

Applying to study abroad is a lengthy process. Not because of how much paperwork you do, but sitting and waiting takes up a lot of time. I applied to Keimyung in the summer of 2010, but even if I would have been accepted right away, the earliest I could participate in the program is the spring of 2011 — which is where we are now.

More than anything, I want to stress how harmless it is to just look into. Not everyone has a desire to travel, and I didn’t either necessarily, but when I informed myself a bit more, I realized I could make this work for me.

I’ll be on my way in just a few short weeks. I plan on doing these “entries” in hopes that I can help students who were like me. Granted, I’m not there yet, but here’s hoping it all goes to plan. I may not know what I’m getting into, but I at least think it’s going to be a good story.

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