Traveling Abroad: Yes or No?
Life costs too much money in general.
Maymester and Summer courses offer cultural immersion, guidance, and education for a little over two weeks. Students don’t have to quit their jobs, and they don’t have to forfeit a semester of courses to attend a study abroad trip. The short time length allows students to get into the new environment, make unquantifiable memories, and take a thousand pictures.
For students at CU Denver who are often bombarded with messages from faculty to participate in CU Denver abroad, this learning experience shouldn’t be dismissed as a superfluous extra-curricular that’s too expensive for practicality. That characterization isn’t accurate in the context of education, and particularly education financed by student loans. Study abroad is an opportunity that if available to someone, that someone should take.
Of course it’s expensive to take this just over two-week trip—life costs too much money in general. But as the Maymester and Winterim courses amount to the same figure as a semester at Auraria, the value of the trip is indelible. Not only do students learn about China, Guatemala, Ireland, France, Morocco, India, Turkey, and others, but they learn how to travel internationally, and what it takes to get there so that students will feel more confident traveling to foreign places in the future.
While some people have family abroad, and others’ savings accounts from which to finance international escapades, for those people with limited resources here presents an opportunity that may not present itself again. Student loans add up and are crippling, but we know that already. Some good can come from copious debt— that’s the experience abroad.
Studying abroad isn’t a defining experience.
Full semester study abroad programs can cost upwards of $20,000; once plane tickets and spending cash are figured in, an international Maymester course alone boasts a price tag nearly equal to CU Denver’s annual tuition. Some students are already working full-time just to afford a semester in Denver, and they don’t deserve to feel like they’re missing out on something essential.
In addition to further stratifying students based on financial resources, the dialogue that necessitates transcontinental study might force people onto a path that isn’t right for them. Some students simply want to live out their wanderlust. Rather than dump a few thousand dollars on tuition just to get to France, the same amount of money can buy a self-guided tour across Europe with no homework or exams getting in the way.
The opportunity to travel does not begin and end within the academy. Whether restrained from attending an international program because of money, family obligations, or a demanding job, life after college is riddled with options: There are careers with offices across the globe, freelance positions not tethered to geography, and there’s always the choice to move to Spain instead of California post-graduation.
If the act of studying abroad is the goal, fight for it. Apply for scholarships, negotiate financial aid, and decide what’s worth sacrificing. But if it doesn’t work out, a hard-earned degree isn’t sullied by postponing adventuring away from home. The international awareness employers are looking for can be established within Colorado: Auraria is a diverse campus that offers courses in global perspectives and regularly invites multinational guest speakers to host lectures and workshops.
Studying abroad isn’t a defining experience—it’s just a special feature.