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Students can follow their dreams around world
Jessica Huebert
Antelope Staff
Photo courtesy of Ben Cooney
Ben Cooney, a senior broadcasting major from Clay Center, stands overlooking the city of Rome. Cooney studied abroad during the Spring of 2009 in the Czech Republic and had the opportunity to travel all over Europe.

It’s a dream for most college students to one day travel and see the world. But when you’re 20 years old with empty pockets, it’s pretty tough to envision yourself as a world traveler.

You don’t have to be a millionaire to experience new countries, though—the answer is as simple as looking into UNK’s study abroad program.                                                                                                                                            

“During my time studying abroad, I visited so many places that I never thought I’d have the chance to go: Italy, Hungary, Germany, Poland and Austria just to name a few,” said Ben Cooney, a senior broadcasting major from Clay Center who attended Palacky University in the Czech Republic during the spring of 2009.

“The great thing about studying in Europe is that your experience is not just limited to one place. All of the countries over there are so close together that it’s easy to travel all over the continent,” he said. “It didn’t matter that we didn’t speak the languages. Most of the young people over there know a fair amount of English, and even if someone didn’t, it wasn’t too hard to communicate and somehow get your point across.”

The UNK study abroad program offers international exchange programs to dozens of different countries that range in length from several weeks to a full year. Credits are easily transferred to the UNK curriculum if planned carefully, and programs are available in almost any chosen field.

“Students often think ‘Oh there’s no way I could study abroad. It’s too complicated to figure out,’ or ‘It’s probably expensive and I just want to get done with school,’” said Anne Marie Park, UNK’s study abroad coordinator.

“In reality, studying abroad is fairly simple to set up and very affordable as well. Students don’t realize how free they are right now,” she said. “Once you graduate, an opportunity like this may not come along again.  Not to mention the fact that studying abroad looks very impressive on a resume. It really sets you apart and shows your willingness to jump right into any situation and just go for it.”  

Brie Maaske, a junior mass media major from Kearney, recently studied abroad during the fall of 2008 at Southern Cross University in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. “My study abroad experience was fantastic,” she said. “It showed me that I was able to get out of my comfort zone, away from everyone I know, and still be successful and have fun. I got to experience things that most people will never get to, like going snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, traveling up and down the coast of Australia and, of course, living in a different country.”         

 Studying abroad is quickly becoming more and more popular. Instead of being just another tourist, exchange students experience things from the other side and see beyond what the tourists see.

“When you study abroad, your mind just explodes,” Park said. “You learn so much without even trying. All the sights, the surroundings, the different viewpoints and cultures—your mind absorbs it all in a way that reading a textbook could never compare to.”

Both Cooney and Maaske agree studying abroad has countless benefits.

“Anytime you are able to experience a new culture, it’s priceless,” Cooney said. “I learned a lot in the classes, and outside of class I saw a whole different view of the world. Plus the opportunities to try new things were never ending. I ended up going skydiving twice, tried tons of new foods and even mastered the art of taking public transportation everywhere. What I’ve taken away from this experience will stay with me forever.”

“I would definitely recommend studying abroad to other UNK students.” Maaske said. “I think it’s really important to get out there and see the world, and really, when else in your life are you going to be able to just up and move across the world for five months while continuing to further your education? It’s the experience of a lifetime.”

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