Do you want to travel and see the world? Do you want to explore new cultures and customs? Do you want to gain study experience at many great universities worldwide?
If you answered yes to any of these three questions, you should consider learning more about the many study abroad programs that Georgia Southern University has to offer.
What does studying abroad consist of?
Studying abroad consists of summer and break programs along with semester and year-long programs. These programs are designed to give students the opportunity to take courses in a number of different countries while being engaged in the surrounding cultures and customs.
However, studying abroad goes far beyond the classroom walls. Students are given the chance to visit many breathtaking sites that each country has to offer. Additionally, multiple activities are provided to students in order to experience cultural immersion.
Students are allowed to interact with locals to gain a better understanding of the local languages, traditions and social backgrounds. Doing so allows students the opportunity to meet other individuals from different backgrounds and create lifelong friendships and connections along the way.
GS study abroad programs
GS offers a variety of study abroad programs. Likewise, there are programs designed for students working toward any degree. From studying nursing in Costa Rica to studying mechanical engineering in Germany, every student is given opportunities to travel abroad.
Two GS staff members, Youssef Salhi, senior lecturer of Arabic and Zuotang Zhang Ph.D., lecturer of Chinese, were interviewed to further explain the benefits and details of studying abroad. They did so by discussing the language programs in which they oversee on GS Statesboro campus.
Study Abroad in Rabat, Morocco
“There are definitely many benefits for our students who are taking Arabic or GS students in general that are going to Morocco,” Salhi said.
The most important thing is the ability to practice the language with Moroccans and native speakers. The second benefit is definitely learning more about the culture of Morocco as an Arabic country, an African country and a Mediterranean country.
“It is a great opportunity for our students to experience that culture with its diversity,” Salhi said.
With a small Arab community in Statesboro, students can find it difficult to find people to practice speaking Arabic with. As a student pursuing one of my degrees in Arabic, this definitely has an impact on my Arabic studies at GS. I agree with Salhi that being surrounded by Arabic speakers would help to practice and advance in the language more than ever.
In addition, the diversity of Morocco gives students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience different cultural aspects such as language, religion, political and economic systems and material culture. Students can take advantage of this opportunity and learn about this beautiful country first-hand rather than in a textbook.
When asked if he could see improvements in students’ Arabic fluency after leaving Morocco, Salhi said, “Definitely.”
Emily Krout, a political science and Arabic major, participated in this program before and agreed by saying, “I believe my Arabic has never improved more since traveling to Morocco. It really helps you.”
In Rabat, Morocco, classes are from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every weekday. Afterward, students spend the afternoon and evening attending workshops and interacting with locals in order to practice the Arabic language every hour.
On the weekends, students have the opportunity to visit many different sites across the country.
“Generally, one of our students’ favorite excursions is going to the Sahara Desert. That is definitely one of the highlights of our study abroad program,” Salhi said.
Listening to Salhi speak about visiting the world’s largest desert was a highlight of our interview. He explained that students get the chance to ride camels to the destination, spend the night under the starry sky and watch the sun set and rise over the Sahara Desert sand dunes. Hearing this was more than enough to prepare me for participating in this program this upcoming summer.
China In Statesboro
China in Statesboro offers a unique twist to study abroad programs at GS. This program takes place in Statesboro but makes students believe they are studying Chinese in China.
Zhang explained that the classroom is decorated with all things that are Chinese. Furthermore, his graduate teaching assistant, volunteer exchange students, visiting teachers from China and visiting scholars all help in educating the students participating in the program.
During this program, the ones teaching try not to speak English in the classroom but will switch back and forth between languages according to the students’ levels.
“The primary purpose is that students learn the Chinese language in this program,” Zhang said.
Overall, Zhang seems to be very passionate about his profession and maintained a smile on his face throughout the entire interview. He even went into detail about a few of his former students who went on to pursue careers involving the Chinese language.
Are scholarships available?
”I know that I could not have went [to Rabat, Morocco] without scholarships. I always stress that there is a lot of different options, especially local scholarships that most people get if they apply and spend the time to work on the application,” Krout said.
When asked the same question, Salhi said, “Yes, definitely. There are a lot of scholarships that are available for our students. Scholarships from our department, scholarships from Georgia Southern and also national scholarships that students can apply for.”
Even though scholarships are available for GS study abroad programs, China in Statesboro does not offer any at the time being. However, Zhang said, “We are constantly receiving scholarship information and job information from China.”
Is studying abroad worth the cost and time?
After speaking with multiple people about studying abroad at GS, it seems that yes, it is worth the cost and time put into it. Both professors highly recommended participating in their programs and Krout said that she has seen major improvements in her Arabic fluency after traveling to Morocco to study Arabic.
Overall, interviewing these individuals has prepared me for studying abroad this summer. It made me realize that there are many scholarships available for students looking to study abroad. Conducting these interviews made me realize how beneficial studying abroad can truly be. I feel better prepared to travel to Rabat, Morocco when summer arrives.
Caygan Taylor, The George-Anne Opinion Writer