For some Georgia State students, spring break is the perfect time to study abroad.
When Max Kantor visited Morocco during a study abroad trip focused on globalization, the speech communication major and aspiring comedian discovered career paths he hadn’t previously considered.
“For me, and what I want to do with comedy, communication is so important,” Kantor said. “The whole world wants to laugh and this trip really introduced me to the possibilities I can have in my career.”
Kantor’s experience came during spring break, allowing him to get a valuable global experience during a time when many other college students are taking time off.
Alex Fontaine, an English and composition major, traveled to Paris to study French literature during his study abroad trip. The one-week experience inspired him to move to France after graduation.
For Fontaine, spring break turned out to be the perfect time to broaden his horizons.
“There are a lot of benefits to a traditional study abroad program, but I have a job and money is a factor,” Fontaine said. “The spring break study abroad program was a perfect fit for me. When you study abroad, you’re able to learn more because you’re exposed to more.”
The College of Arts & Sciences has developed a growing number of study abroad opportunities
for students during spring break. Students can earn three course credit hours during a one-week experience, and the shorter programs are more affordable than traditional study abroad programs that can last several weeks or months and pose scheduling challenges.
Eric Friginal, the international programs director for Arts & Sciences, said he wants more students to take advantage of global opportunities.
“We want to encourage students to grow through travel, but some of our students can’t commit to a full semester studying abroad because of family or work,” he said. “That’s why the spring break study abroad program is so important. It gives everyone the opportunity to travel.”
The spring break offerings have helped the college boost the number of students participating in study abroad and international exchange programs by 38 percent in the past year. Students can choose from a range of topics that include studying Victorian literature in London, positive psychology in Scandinavia, tropical island ecology in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and history and visual culture in Cuba.
“When students come back, they say what a transformative experience it is,” Friginal said. “You get to know cultures, not just by reading about them, but by actually going there. You can learn Spanish in the United States, but it’s so different when you can actually go to Spain or Mexico and listen to the language, or use it while communicating with locals.”
Melissa McLeod, principal senior instructor in English, tries to help her students acclimate to new countries by creating websites for them with travel tips, including advice on what to bring and what to wear.
“I go to great pains to help my students,” McLeod said. “Many of our students haven’t traveled overseas before. In fact, many of our students may have not traveled out of Georgia. Their outlook and perceptions are affected by this program. Experiencing a different culture is transformative.”
Andrea G. Weyermann, a senior lecturer in psychology, has taught students overseas for about five years, traveling with groups to destinations including Tanzania, Dubai and Morocco.
Weyermann said the week-long program is valuable for her students.
“I tell my students all the time, ‘Don’t let finances stop you from seeing the world,'” she said.