The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Take Your Studies to the Skies: The Benefits of Studying Abroad

St. John’s University students share their experiences studying abroad.
Shaughnessy and friends in London, England while studying abroad.
Photo Courtesy / Molly Shaughnessy

For years, studying abroad has been considered a staple “rite of passage” for travel-hungry college students. Studying abroad may in fact be the experience of a lifetime, and while the beautiful scenery and exciting social life is immensely appealing, there are many other benefits to studying abroad. From exposure to cultural diversities to taking courses in a foreign country, studying abroad can increase self-confidence, impact students’ worldviews and aid in personal maturity and independence. 

The process of applying for a studying abroad program can be intimidating, especially when aligning credits with requirements. However, this factor should not deter students. 

“Plan the process as soon as possible — make a spreadsheet or a to-do list to keep everything in order,” says senior Molly Shaughnessy. “It may be tedious at first, but it will help in the long run leading up to your travels.”

Shaughnessy traveled to Rome in Spring 2022, saying that one of her top priorities was “meeting with my advisor to ensure credits were in order and understanding where required courses are offered. This really helped me a lot when transitioning into studying abroad.”

Shaughnessy in Rome during the Spring 2022 semester.
Photo Courtesy / Molly Shaughnessy

With 42.3 percent of St. John’s University students studying abroad, the University’s program has a wide range of short-term and long-term options, offered in Costa Rica, Paris and Rome. While the Costa Rica study abroad provides students with the opportunity to live with a host family for either 12 or 16 weeks, the Paris and Rome opportunity is semester-long. The latter two, however, have some major-oriented limitations, so students must be sure to do significant research prior to applying. 

Freshman Quinn McNelis expresses what he is looking forward to as he plans to travel to Paris for a two-week duration in Summer 2023. 

“I’m excited to go because I have never experienced foreign culture before, and I would like to see how different it is from here,” said McNelis. Despite anxieties about being distracted with the fascinations of the “French world” around him, McNelis also stated that “going abroad will help me actually experience the French language in person other than my classroom; I think this will be a big help for me when continuing to learn the language.”

Taking a risk by stepping out of comfort zones and traveling to a foreign country has the potential to foster personal growth in students while being welcomed with open arms, as noted by junior Kristen Tague, who traveled to Paris, Rome and Limerick with the three-country program in Fall 2022.

“Studying abroad opened my eyes to how quickly places you’d never been could become home and bring you so many happy memories as well as lessons,” said Tague.

Senior Grace Coyne shared her experience while studying abroad twice — first during the Winter of 2019-2020 in Rome and second during the Summer of 2022 in Rome again. 

“While I had a great time in Rome twice, I really couldn’t ignore the downsides. I thought it was an SJU summer program, but somehow things got messed up, and it was a University of Florida program,” said Coyne. “I was forced to live with students from the other university, which wasn’t ideal, but my roommate turned out to be really nice, so it all worked out.”

“Despite the mix-ups, I still wouldn’t change either of my abroad experiences,” says Coyne.

Coyne and a friend making pasta in Rome, Italy.
Photo Courtesy / Grace Coyne

Studying abroad experiences like Coyne’s allows students to develop highly-valued skills including adaptability and multicultural communication. Interestingly enough, these outcomes of studying abroad can give students an upper hand when it comes to prospective employers. In fact, 41 percent of employers are more likely to offer a higher job or salary to students who studied abroad during college, according to CNBC

Whether you study abroad for one semester, two semesters or even for the two-week program, a travel experience during college years can be extremely beneficial, highly memorable and personally enriching.

 

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