Staff reporter discusses Study Abroad

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Editor’s Note: The following is a first person account of one reporter’s Study Abroad experience during the winter break. Writing from the Czech Republic, he gives insight into the advantages and costs of Study Abroad programs offered through the International Initiatives Office.


Hello, and let me be the first person to welcome you to Southeastern Louisiana University from another country. You might be asking yourself “What is he doing in another country?” Well, right now I’m currently on a winter Study Abroad trip to Germany, Czech Republic and Austria.

I bet the next question is “Why do you want to Study Abroad when you can study in Louisiana for much less?” Well, aside from your normal college curriculum that adds knowledge to your life, Southeastern offers a Study Abroad trip that adds cultural experience and gives you a chance to see the world from beyond the United States’ borders and your textbook’s pages.

For example, while reading about World War II, some history books will talk about the firebombing of Dresden that took place in 1945, which killed thousands of civilians. It may turn a head or two in class back in the United States, but when you walk the streets that were reduce to charred rubble, it changes your perspective of the event entirely.

Another thing we visited was a former “Stasi” secret police headquarters in former Eastern Germany that gave me a unique perspective of how Communist East Germany kept its population under surveillance and its party safe.

Now you’re probably wondering if this is worth the cost. My honest answer would be yes. The trip I’m currently on has cost me $2150 and so far it has been worth every penny. We have seen every important landmark in every city we have been in and I have learned so much about the history of the countries I’ve traveled through so far.

If you’re wondering how to apply, it’s fairly simple. According to the International Initiatives graduate assistant Wes Pfeiffer, applying for Study Abroad requires you to first stop by their offices in McGehee Hall Room 122 where you will fill out an application form and then they can help you figure out what Study Abroad trip is right for you. After that, you will be required to get two letters of recommendation from current or former instructors, mentors or employers

The International Initiatives Office will request that you put down a non-refundable $100 deposit, which will be deducted from the trip cost later. After that, the office will run a student conduct and GPA check to ensure that you are in good standing, which requires you to have no conduct violations at this university and a 2.0 GPA.

After you have been accepted into the program there will be a deadline to drop the program without paying. After the deadline has passed, you are liable to pay for the trip whether you go or not.

“One major benefit for going on the trip is that it is a rare instance where students can put into play what they have spent several years learning” said Pfeiffer. “For foreign language trips, students can be immersed into the culture of which they have studied. From experience with German, speaking with classmates on campus is far from trying to get around Munich and Nuremberg. Students can also take courses that are not offered on campus, such as the Geo-biology of the Galapagos course.”

In addition to helping students’ book flights, the International Initiatives office can also help with getting passports and anything else to help students deal with the flights.

I hope that helps you out and, again, welcome to Southeastern!