Students share study abroad experiences
International and study abroad students shared their experiences Saturday and promoted international opportunities for Rutgers students.
The Rutgers Center for Global Education hosted a study abroad fair called “Around the World in 30 Minutes” in the Cove at Busch Campus Center.
Director of the Center for Global Education Giorgio DiMauro said returning and international exchange students presented their stories and experiences abroad at the fair.
“The idea is to get students and parents interested and aware of all of the international opportunities here at Rutgers,” he said.
Formerly a stand-alone called Rutgers Study Abroad, the program recently became a part of the Center for Global Education, DiMauro said. The bulk of their activities are involved with study abroad, but they are expanding to international internships and international research.
“At each of the regional tables, we [had] trivia based on each region. Every hour, a $50 Rutgers RU express card [was] raffled based on the tickets won at the tables,” DiMauro said.
The study abroad fair also featured culture-based games and activities, including an origami station, Chinese calligraphy and a Korean game involving paper boxes.
DiMauro said study abroad opens up the world in a valuable way and encourages personal and intellectual growth. Students learn to see things from a different perspective, one of the most fundamental aspects of college.
“[It] opens you up to different perspectives, different ways of interpreting the world, seeing the world,” he said.
From an economic standpoint, DiMauro said participation in a study abroad program creates tangible career benefits.
He said employers and graduate schools notice study abroad on a resume. Many Rutgers students talk about going to interviews and having study abroad as one of the main topics of conversation.
Regardless of the benefits, very few college students study abroad. DiMauro said the demographic is growing, but only about nine percent of the college population participates in a study abroad program.
DiMauro would tell any student considering the program to participate, even though it can be scary.
“It’s especially hard to uproot yourself from everything you know and all of your networks here, but it’s a very valuable thing to do, and it’s hard to do after your graduate,” he said. “Take that plunge because all the students who go come back enthusiastic and happy they did it.”
Alexa Marzocca, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said she had traveled to Australia.
“I think the biggest thing was getting a sense of independence,” she said. “Packing up and moving to the other side of the world was kind of scary, but now I feel like I can do anything.”
Marzocca said she developed a new perspective that greatly differentiated from growing up in the same environment all of her life.
Laura Muriel, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said studying abroad is something everyone should do.
“Not only do you get to know another country, but you get to learn so much about yourself. You change and evolve as a person and gain a sense of appreciation of where you are,” she said.
Neha Parikh, an Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy senior, attended the University College London in London for her study abroad experience. She said she learned how to be a lot more independent and self-sufficient.
“I also learned how to embrace new experiences and come out of my shell because going there was a lot like starting kindergarten again,” she said.
Parikh said becoming more open and culturally aware were just a few of her personal gains from the experience.
Study abroad helps students grow as a people, she said, but also allows them to immerse themselves in something completely different than Rutgers.
“If you are thinking about it, don’t think — just do it,” she said. “It’s one thing you will absolutely never regret.”