Brooke Lanogen, a senior and member of the study abroad office, considers herself extremely privileged to have studied abroad last year in Florence, Italy. The opportunity to experience a different culture, see the world, grow into independent adults and to get away from the monotony shouldn’t be missed, she said.

However a majority of students at Fairfield and throughout the U.S. can only imagine what a semester in Florence, Galloway, Rouen or Brisbane would be like. Only 30 percent of Fairfield students choose to study abroad at Fairfield; yet nationally this number is one of the highest.

‘We’re very proud of that (percentage),’ said Susan Fitzgerald, assistant dean and director of international programs at Fairfield University.

According to a recent article in The Daily Campus, at the University of Connecticut only 18 percent of students study abroad. Their goal, the article said, is to reach 30 percent.
However this goal seems unreachable this year as UConn reported a five percent drop in students studying abroad. Although some percentages are declining, according to the Open Doors 2008 report on international educational exchange, the number of students studying abroad has increased by eight percent in recent years.

Out of 20 Fairfield students interviewed at random all would definitely choose to study abroad in ideal circumstances. However of the 20 interviewed only eight are actually going abroad.

The Financial Breakdown

The most common reason among students who choose not to go abroad is cost. Ten of the 20 students interviewed said they simply couldn’t afford it. Other reasons included athletic and academic reasons.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

‘It’s never less expensive (to study abroad),’ said Fitzgerald. If you consider the expenses of living in the city compared to living in a dorm, the city will be much more expensive, said Fitzgerald. She says she doesn’t know a student who has been abroad who would tell you it is less expensive.

Costs of food, airfare, transportation, shopping: the cash is continually flowing. According to Fitzgerald it is predicted that students spend between $5,000 and $8,000 in just personal expenses while abroad.

‘It’s too expensive. I know they say it’s the same as tuition here but the expensive of living there is more,’ said Philip Toran ’10. He chose not to study abroad this year because he said that between paying rent for a beach house and living abroad, it’s just too much money.

Another student Taylor Rooke ’09 agreed, ‘It’s too expensive and my grades weren’t good enough anyways.’

However Fitzgerald said students can go abroad and maintain a tight budget. Resist the temptation to splurge on the Italian leather shoes and stay within the city and studying abroad should be a reasonable price.

Being a student-athlete presents a whole different set of reasons to say no to the opportunity to study abroad. Although athletes are technically allowed to study abroad, they said commitment to their respective teams sways their decisions heavily. There is also a lingering fear that their coaches will look down upon their decision.

Nicole Cavallaro ’11, member of the women’s soccer team, said, ‘I believe we are technically allowed to study abroad but my coach would probably penalize me if I did.’

Matthew Ernst ’11, a member of the men’s soccer team said, ‘I decided not to study abroad because I have an obligation to my team and I don’t want hurt my standing within the team.’

Academic challenges to Study Abroad

Students are also hesitant to go abroad because of their academic worries. Many students must take summer courses in order to graduate on time.

For example, nursing majors are warned ahead of time that in order to study abroad they must complete a summer course. According to Fitzgerald however, it is commendable that Fairfield even has a study abroad program for nursing majors, as many schools do not.

‘It’s actually not good (studying abroad) for nursing majors because it causes us to fall behind,’ said Alyssa Ryley ’11, nursing major.

However she has made the decision to study abroad. She said, ‘I would think that experiencing a different country would be a good thing just for life in general.’

Many students share this view. Fairfield University is actually a very supportive school in terms of study abroad. It is one of the few schools that allow financial aid to transfer overseas.

‘I am going to Italy so (Fairfield) is adjusting my scholarship accordingly,’ said Loral DeSalvio ’11.

Studying abroad, Fairfield’s Website states, will widen personal horizons, acquaint you with different academic styles, confront you with new challenges, equip you with a new set of skills that will help you succeeded in working life and give you a deeper understanding of your role as a citizen of the world.

So whether you decided to study abroad for a semester, a year, a month or just ten days Lanogen said, ‘Believe me, Fairfield will still be here when you get back.’

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