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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggies around the world

Texas A&M is the top public school in the country for study abroad programs and ranks number two for public and private universities. Abroad programs are offered all year,  and according to the Study Abroad Programs Office, a total of 5,330 Texas A&M students left the familiarity of College Station last year to travel to another country and study abroad.
Pascale Parker, an associate director of study abroad program office, has spent 10 years in the department and has witnessed its growth first hand.
“Texas A&M is not unique in the way that it is embracing the fashion of sending students abroad, but what it is unique is that it’s really making sure that it’s not just talk,” Parker said.
Parker said that because Texas is the top state for exports in the US students need to be prepared to compete in a global market through understanding other countries with hands on experiences by studying abroad.
“We need to have students who are graduating from a top university to have some kind of experience abroad, outside of their comfort zone, where they also get more credibility,” Parker said.
Associate director of the Study Abroad Programs Office Katy Lane said the possibilities for students are multi-faceted in which they can either study, volunteer, or intern abroad.
“It’s important because we live in a global society, we live in a global world, and it’s really important to step outside of College Station, to step outside of Texas, and really understand how things work in different parts of the world,” Lane said. “And also how the United States is viewed in different parts of the world.”
Ashley Justynski, international studies senior, will be studying abroad in Dakar, Senegal this summer for learning French language, immersing herself in the culture, and international development.
“We all just know one perspective and that’s our own, and that’s of our country and state and whatnot,” Justynski said. “When we leave we understand more about the world and more about how other people live their lives, their politics, and food and all that.”
Students can have their study abroad experience tailored to their needs through a variety of educational and scholarship opportunities. These programs are often thought of as traditional education, but can include volunteer work, internships and research.
“What Texas A&M has embraced is a lot of different models, because each student has a different experience, a different background,” Parker said. “In that respective, Texas A&M stands out because it is not just one model. They have encouraged the entire university to develop programs that would meet the various needs, the diverse needs, of our student population.”
Charlotte Hammer, agricultural economics senior, went on a five week study abroad in Angers, France last year to learn sustainable french agribusiness. She said she found being immersed in the culture to be beneficial to compare agriculture methods from those of the US, despite having already lived in France and Germany for six years.
“The topic is a little bit different from the things I learn in class, so I was able to see how other countries apply agriculture,” Hammer said. “Typically the United States has room to kind of grow and maneuver things around, but Europe doesn’t have that luxury … so seeing that aspect of it was really cool.”
Jane Flaherty, director of the Study Abroad Programs Office, said the most popular place for students to go is in the realms of Western Europe.
“Like U.S. trends, most A&M students go to Western Europe,” Flaherty said. “I think just Americans tend to have an interest in European history and culture. The demographics are shifting though, one of our most popular places outside of Western Europe now is Costa Rica, and a lot of that is because we have a wonderful research center there.”
Summer semesters can often be more popular than the fall and spring, Parker said. The difficulty of studying abroad during the school year is often the amount of time spent out of country and receiving credit for the courses on degree plans.
“It is difficult sometimes for students to see themselves being gone for a full semester. There is also a difference in participation in the fall and spring. In the fall, there are some students who don’t want to miss football.”
Miranda Lindsey, international studies senior, will participate in a French language study immersion CIEE abroad program in both Paris, France and Dakar, Senegal this summer. It will be her first study abroad program and her second time to travel outside of the US.
“I personally didn’t want to miss out on a lot of the things that happen in the fall semester, like the football games, and the tailgates, and just being able to go to midnight yell, being able to be in organizations, being able to hang out with my friends,” Lindsey said. “So summer was really the best time for me in terms of the classes that I wanted to take and the kind of time I wanted to be abroad.”

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