Degrees Abroad: Why SU Students Should Consider a Semester Abroad

Coming to Syracuse University, I knew I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. My mother and sister both studied with SU at their Central London in 1978 and 2018, respectively, and I never stopped hearing their stories of their time abroad. The cliché phrase that studying abroad would “change my life” is now ingrained in me.

After studying at SU abroad Central Europe Program, I can guarantee that the sentence is true. The experiences and friends I made abroad will stay with me for the rest of my life. The experience I gained while studying abroad is highly recommended.

In early September 2021, I launched my Exploring Central Europe program in Wrocław, Poland. After a brief 10-day period designed for quarantine purposes, a brief history lesson and two two-hour Polish lessons, our group of six SU students and one Grinnell College student set off for an intensive seminar of two-week trip through Poland. The program in Poland was the first for LLB abroad. Where the Exploring Central Europe program has generally extended beyond Poland, we have instead traveled within Poland’s borders to mitigate the COVID-19 complications of cross-border travel.

I originally applied for the program with the draw for cross-border travel to cities such as Prague, Budapest, Berlin and Warsaw. However, the country-specific itinerary in the Polish cities of Wrocław, Gdànsk, Krakow, Warsaw, various other sites and a weekend in Berlin proved sufficient. In addition, the program allowed for a greater emphasis on the history and cultural influences of Poland.

Despite having family ties to Poland, I had no experience of the Polish language and culture apart from the traditional dishes of Pierogi and Gołabki. It was a particular point of attraction for me because I personally wanted to get out of my comfort zone in a country whose mother tongue I didn’t speak.

A few hours after arriving, I had my first real encounter with the Polish language when I was kicked out of the local Orthodox Church for taking pictures of the magnificent architecture. Prior to attending a two-week cross-country travel seminar, I had taken two one-hour Polish 101 classes. I knew just enough to order a black coffee (czarna kawę in Polish). We were enthusiastically immersed in a cultural immersion.

Being surrounded by culture is far more influential than learning subjects on campus and in a textbook, especially in language. Being in person and in conversation promotes language acquisition over learning the language alone. Language acquisition refers to the absorption of language through real-world use as opposed to learning it from a textbook through grammar. For me, that meant combining my Polish lessons with outings and trying to speak it, something that would have been hard to come by if I had only taken Polish lessons in the United States.

the hundreds programs offered by SU Abroad are designed for cultural immersion that matches a wide range of interests. Additionally, scholarships are often offered to help cover costs. Surprisingly, the cost of my semester abroad turned out to be less than choosing to stay on campus for the semester.

For my program in Central Europe, students confront the politics of memory of World War II and the Holocaust as well as histories ranging from the 12th century to contemporary civil society conflicts such as the Polish border conflict. -Belarusian. Other courses offered gave me the opportunity to integrate the objectives of my own major into my studies abroad. For example, I could publish three reports of my choice within the framework of contemporary or historical Poland. Other opportunities allowed me to meet experts in the fields I study. These experiences allowed me to tailor the program directly to my personal and academic interests while earning credit for my degrees.

Pursuing an education while exploring a foreign country is an opportunity that should not be turned down. Given the range of off-campus programs offered by SU, it should be easy for students to find one that matches their interests. Studying in Poland through SU gave me the experience of a lifetime and proved the expression “changes your life”.

Harrison Vogt is a double major in Environmental Sustainability Politics and Communication and Rhetorical Studies. His column appears every two weeks. He can be reached at [email protected]. He can be followed on Twitter at @VogtHarrison.

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