I have brought up in my other Civic Issues blogs how diversity is important to have on a college campus and backed up my claim with statistics and examples. With this, I think that an important step a college student should take is to look into study abroad programs. To experience more diversity than what is provided on a college campus, it is good for a student to broaden their horizons and try to travel to a country where they are interested in learning about that culture. Students have many different options when it comes to their living situations and learning environments when studying abroad.
There are some programs that allow a student to live with a family that speak the native language of that country. These families host students all the time. I feel that this is the best way for a student to live abroad because it gives them the opportunity to only speak that language and adjust to their culture. For example, if a student were to study abroad in Spain, they would be living with a family who would only speak Spanish to them and try to avoid speaking English back to them. This would help the student become fluent in the language and help them adjust to the family’s Spanish lifestyle. I have been told by students who have done these this type of program that it allows you to either take several classes or find a job.
A girl in my French class did this similar type of program. She lived in France for several months with a French family who hosted her and three other students. She only spoke French with the family but she did occasionally get asked by the kids to help them with their English. That might be annoying if the student is there to only speak French but connecting to the family you are living with is important in order to have a more comfortable living situation. She got a job as an Au Pair, which is a babysitting company where she, as an American citizen, can work as a babysitter for a French family. Not only did she get to speak French a lot of the time, but was able to see how the kids were raised in France because she took care of them. Living with that family and working as a babysitter was her way of connecting to the French culture.
Other types of programs include studying on another school campus abroad, staying with families with other students in the same program as you, or just traveling the country while living in places like youth hostels. Penn State offers many different types of study abroad programs. Some of these programs include spending a summer in Egypt and tour around the country, partake as an exchange student in Beijing at Peking University, or study abroad in a program provided by the college you are in (i.e. College of Liberal Arts).
For the 2008-2009 school year, Penn State had a total of 1620 students do an education abroad program. About 77% of these students studied in Europe, 7.1% studied in Latin America, and 6.3% studied in Asia. The University Office of Global Programs website provides any information needed for a student who is interested in studying abroad through Penn State. I feel that every student should give studying abroad a chance because it is a great way to open up to new cultures besides the diversity already shown on a college campus. Many Universities all over the world have study abroad programs which comes to show the interest students today have in the education abroad programs.