Even as she was applying for schools, Colorado native Crystal Murillo knew that she wanted study abroad to be a part of her college experience. This, in addition to its business programs, was one of the main reasons why she found herself at the University of Denver. “I learned about the various opportunities DU had for me to travel to other countries and I fell in love,” Murillo said while describing her college search.
However, as with many aspects of college life, the process of actually implementing a study abroad experience can be challenging. This is why it is important for a university to have tools in place to help guide students through the process. According to Murillo, that is exactly what she found at DU.
“DU had required sessions for me to attend before and after I knew where I was going which were quite informative. The application process was a little nerve-racking only because you had to pick your top three schools, but the questions they asked were quite illuminating.”
And the assistance didn’t stop there. In looking at Murillo’s story, one can see that DU’s partner programs also provided invaluable assistance:
“Through my program I also found a lot of support; they even offered a service where their organization would file for a student visa on my behalf without incurring the cost of going to the consulate in LA.”
Gaining this support opened up the world to Crystal. Over the course of her DU education she has been able to go further than she ever dreamed possible, traveling to Belize and Madrid through two separate trips. These journeys have also given her exposure to a level of diversity that can only be found through international travel:
“I lived in an international flat with girls from all over the world who had come to Spain to study. Getting to know them as well as other local students was very enriching.”
Of course, that is not to say that studying abroad does not present unique challenges in addition to its charms. With international programs sometimes lasting for several months it is always important for students to not only reach out to support systems back home, but to open themselves up to their new surroundings.
“Every once in a while I would have periods where I felt homesick. To overcome that temporary feeling I would talk it out with my family and friends and it always helped me. Just being surrounded by people who are different than you and have a different way of life can be overwhelming to try and adjust to, but in the end it helped me grow as a person.”
However, for students like Murillo, the benefits outweigh any hassles. Not only does participation in these programs help elevate one’s schoolwork and strengthen one’s resume, but it also helps one grow in more subtle and profound ways. As Murillo notes:
“Indirectly, study abroad has given me so much more. I have gained a better sense of the Spanish culture and a better appreciation for their way of life. I have come to compare my life in Spain and my life in Colorado and analyze their differences. They are unique in their own right but my perspective has changed to be more inclusive of people who are different than me. For anyone entering our increasingly global workforce, like myself, being inclusive of others is an essential skill to have learned.”
Finally, a study abroad experience seems to have one final effect: it gives people the travel bug, often times for life. When asked about where she would like to travel next, Murillo quickly zeroed in on a whole new country and a whole new adventure:
“For me that is Japan. I think the Japanese culture is so fascinating and I would love to be able to live there for an extended amount of time. I think it would challenge me personally to live in Japan because I believe their way of life is vastly different than mine.”
Adam Mohrbacher - Marketing Assistant