How Studying Abroad Helps Students Learn and Foster Relationships

by Anna Harman

Cedarville University encourages students to do a semester abroad, immersing themselves in another country while they learn. As the university puts it, “Open to students in any major, study abroad programs strengthen your language and cross-cultural skills, broaden your thinking, and deepen your commitment to Christian service.” There are opportunities to spend a semester in Spain, Ireland and France, along with many others. 

Anna Porter is the staff assistant director for CU Study Abroad. Anna explains that students find fellowship and build relationships while studying abroad by going through the same adjustments, culture shock and academic re-orientation together as a group. Your peers are walking the same road as you and can share those experiences with you, unlike your friends and family back home who don’t experience it first-hand. You are able to cross paths and grow relationships with those you might not have otherwise. 

“While the international and travel aspect of studying abroad is definitely an attractive component, it is not the sole component,” Porter said. “The first and foremost purpose of studying abroad is to continue, complement, and enrich the academic experience you’re getting here at Cedarville.”  

Porter shares directorship with Dr. Andrew Wiseman, the faculty assistant director for CU Study Abroad, He is a professor of Spanish in the English, Literature, and Modern Languages Department. He is passionate about how the study abroad program is just as impactful for faculty as it is for students. He truly believes that the experience of studying abroad for faculty is a refreshing opportunity and an amazing opportunity for real-world teaching.

 “Many of life’s greatest adventures begin with a sense of trepidation, and faculty-led study abroad is no different; once faculty push past that hesitancy, there are numerous benefits from a Cedarville study abroad opportunity,” Wiseman said. “CU faculty play an important role in facilitating an impactful student experience, at times with life-changing results. Many of our faculty that participated in study abroad programming have commented that their time off-campus has professionally improved their teaching and research not only by enriching their global competence, but also adding experiential learning objectives to their teaching.” 

Halle Johnson, a junior at Cedarville, studied in Dublin, Ireland, through CEA’s International Business School during this past spring semester. She took two marketing courses from local, Irish professors and had a part-time internship at Jigsaw –The National Centre for Youth Mental Health, a nonprofit that provides counseling and other resources to teens. 

Despite going into it anxious about the responsibility of being completely alone in a foreign country, it became one of the things she enjoyed the most. Her flexible schedule also gave her the chance to travel on the weekends. She went to Athens, Barcelona and London, as well as many locations around Ireland during her time there. 

“I absolutely loved the independence of it,” Johnson said. “I had a pretty consistent routine: walking to my favorite coffee shop (Clement & Pekoe) before class or work, taking a walk through center city and through the Temple Bar district over lunch breaks, and grocery shopping for dinner on the way home.”

She joined a church, where she met one of her close friends, and they joined a young adult group that met weekly. She got the chance to meet with students who were also believers, as well as young believers from Pakistan and Uganda and Mexico. She built relationships with locals from her church and also with the people she lived with. She lived in an apartment and had the opportunity to meet a lot of international students through the school. She was able to interact with German, Italian, Indian and French students. 

Caroline Stanton is a sophomore at Cedarville who also studied in Ireland this past spring. She chose to study abroad because she wanted “to be stretched as a student and as a person, and going abroad allowed me to grow in ways that I didn’t even know possible. It was truly worth the time and monetary sacrifice, and I would go again in a heartbeat.” 

She went to Dublin but spent time in Galway, Limerick, and Northern Ireland. They would meet for class for about an hour every other day and would go on group excursions almost every day. Day-to-day was a new experience and she was consistently busy. She spent time seeing landmarks and experiencing all the country had to offer. 

“I loved almost every aspect of studying abroad, but I think my favorite thing was being able to feel truly immersed into another culture while also learning really interesting material,” Stanton said. 

She shared that getting to read and study materials in the same place they were written in her Irish Writers class was a memorable part of her experience. Many of the people she studied with are some of her closest friends now. Traveling, learning and living with people brought them closer together. 

“I would not be the person I am today without them and my experience studying abroad with Cedarville University,” Stanton said. “I will forever cherish them and all of our memories.”  

Studying abroad is a unique and life-changing experience that students have the opportunity to participate in during their time at Cedarville University. Students create lasting memories and relationships during their time abroad and they get the chance to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for another culture. 

The study abroad fair will be held in the Dixon Ministry Center Alumni Hall on October 18 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be representatives from various organizations that provide study-abroad opportunities in numerous locations around the world. 

Anna Harman is a junior Biblical Studies major and also a reporter for Cedars. She appreciates writing, peppermint tea, flowers, and going to concerts.

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