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Abroad Perspective

Morgan Fuller
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The Maricopa Community Colleges District (MCCD) offers a wide variety of study abroad programs that give students from all colleges the opportunity to study in different countries around the world. According to the Maricopa Community Colleges’ Study Abroad Program Catalog of 2015, one of the goals of the programs is to educate, “globally competent individuals who value and respect cultural differences.”

Reached via email, Kathryn Howard, the program manager for the international and intercultural education center, stated, “Students have a much greater connection to the larger world they live in once they have traveled away from their home country for a period of time.  They tend to emerge from the experience seeing themselves as not only a citizen of their home country, but a global citizen in the larger world they are a part of. Students gain a new level of self-confidence and independence for having taken the leap to sign up for a program, secure the funding, sacrifice to make it happen, and ultimately go abroad and learn to navigate in another culture.  This confidence extends to other areas of their life upon their return.  They often feel ready to conquer the world, after having achieved this milestone.  And they come back with a better understanding of their own culture in the process.”

Students can choose one of the many different destinations that MCCD offers, such as the Czech Republic, England, Ireland, Namibia, India, and different historical cities throughout Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.

While program fees range from approximately $1,000.00 to $4,000.00, the colleges offer many financial aid resources and opportunities to help pay for these programs such as scholarships and grants. One grant offered for students is the Gilman Scholarship. The Student Study Abroad Program Catalog discusses this scholarship as open to U.S. citizen undergraduate students who are receiving federal Pell grant funding at a two year or four year college or university. 
Howard explains students can “use any financial aid from the academic year that was not expended to help fund their summer program.  Also, most programs have scholarship funds available, which the student can inquire about to the program director. There are a number of government sponsored programs that provide scholarships. There are over 2,300 scholarships offering up to $5,000 that will be awarded this year for US citizen undergraduates to study abroad. Award amounts will vary depending on the length of study and student needs.

According to Sylvia Orr, a dean at Estrella Mountain Community College, students benefit from study abroad programs: “I think that students learn many skills from the study abroad programs, and these skills include exposure to foreign languages, and they have the opportunity to practice them. They see the world from a more global perspective. They enhance a person’s intercultural competencies, which will help them not only in their day-to-day activities, but also when they go out into the workforce. Their understanding of the economic, political, and cultural realities of other countries is strengthened. Not only that, but a students’ self confidence is increased when they go abroad as well.”

For many students, the opportunity to study abroad is one of the highlights of their college experience.  It often sparks an interest in students to go abroad again, to learn a foreign language or to work, volunteer or study for an extended length of time.

Howard states, “We live in a globalized world, and study abroad helps students develop global perspectives that can be an asset as they enter the global workplace.  Employers value a study abroad experience when they see it on an applicant’s resume; hence it can give a student an edge over another applicant for a job they want.  And in addition to all of that, it’s a lot of fun!”

For more information regarding these programs, visit the MCCD International & Intercultural Education Study Abroad webpage.