IMMERSE YOURSELF CULTURALLY Mount Mary students find solace in studying abroad

By CARISSA IHM

Imagine what you can encounter if you choose to study abroad. A nursing student might experience a friendly hug or handshake from a poverty-stricken patient, whereas a student in international studies might learn, first-hand, the intricate details of another culture. Experiences like these can only be obtained when you study abroad.

Mount Mary College student Laura Hake and study abroad program director Nan Metzger visit with Hake's host family in Peru. Left to right are Helen Medina, Otto Medina, Laura Hake, Nan Metzger, Teresa Medina and a student from a different college. Photo courtesy of NAN METZGER.

There are multiple opportunities for students to get involved in study abroad.

There are long-term and short-term programs at Mount Mary College, such as trips to Peru, Paris and Rome. There are long-term programs, short-term programs, and if programs don’t fit a student’s needs, Nan Metzger, director of international studies, is willing to find a program that does. Some trips allow students to receive service learning hours and participate in various social justice issues.

“Study Abroad is an opportunity to expand learning, an opportunity to gain a broad understanding of global interactions as well as improve competencies, and gain unique learning experiences. It’s a neat way to expand the good foundation they’re [students are] getting in their regular program,” Metzger said.

Embrace the world

According to Metzger, the study abroad program “enriches what you see because you’re tying it directly to what you’re learning.”

Sarah Cull, a senior and Spanish major attending Mount Mary, is also enrolled in the nursing program at Columbia College of Nursing. Cull said the main reason for participating in a study abroad program to Peru was to pursue her degree. The trip also affected her views on the field of nursing.

“It showed the health care disparities that exist worldwide,” Cull said. “There is such a focus on the disparities in our own nation, but we have many services and funding that exist to make services available to all, there is nothing comparable in Peru.”

Krista Moore, sociology professor and current Caroline Scholars director, has been connected to several study abroad programs such as Ireland.

“Students gain a greater understanding of world issues and how they affect people in different societies,” Moore said. “Their perception of culture changes, as well as their perceptions of their place in the world. I wish all students could take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.”

Another student that has done just that is Laura Hake, a Spanish major and senior at Mount Mary. Hake participated in the six-week trip to Peru, studying at a university and touring places such as Machu Picchu.

“I think it’s important to be immersed in their culture and learn their culture and way of life,” Hake said.

Hake received valuable experiences by immersing in the culture. For instance, students like Hake get a chance to engage in conversation with people directly involved with global issues, as well as improve their own language speaking skills.

Pave the way

The cost to study abroad is expensive and not easily obtained by most students. So in times of economic disparity, where do students get financial help?

“There is funding out there. Don’t assume, ‘Oh, I can never do that! I don’t have the money!’ because we can procure funding to enable students to study where they want to go,” Metzger said.

One scholarship available to students is a donor-funded Study Abroad Scholarship based on need. About 80 percent of students who apply receive some award. Qualified students need to earn 24 credit hours at Mount Mary and be willing to be a study abroad ambassador, after their return. This means they would need to assist in the promotion of the Study Abroad program and try to get more people on board. However, the Study Abroad Scholarship doesn’t cover the full cost of the entire trip.

Cull was one of the students who qualified for the scholarship. “I applied for the Mount Mary Study Abroad scholarship and was awarded $700. Other than that, I had to save up and pay out of pocket.” Nevertheless, Cull viewed her trip as an irreplaceable experience, despite struggling to raise money for the program.

“The study abroad trip was a wonderful opportunity…it was an invaluable lesson in humanity and humbling to serve people in such great need,” Cull said. “The experience was a great opportunity to work with passionate professionals who wanted to serve the people of Peru. It was a Christian mission as well, so it was rewarding to serve the spiritual and health needs of the Peruvian people.”

For more information on studying abroad, contact Nan Metzger, director of international studies, at metzgern@mtmary.edu.

 

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