According to the Institute of International Education, UT ranks second in the nation in number of students studying abroad. The University is also in the top 25 for international student enrollment, with more than 6,000 students enrolled.
“We realize the importance of international and hands-on experience in education,” said Fiona Mazurenko, a public affairs specialist at the International Office. “It turns students into global-citizens, and this is important in an increasingly global marketplace.”
UT sends more than 2,800 students to more than 80 countries each year. The destinations with the highest enrollment include Spain, France, China, Brazil, South Africa and Australia. Program lengths range from three weeks to an entire semester, and many programs offer internships or are linked to existing classes at the University.
According to Mazurenko, students who study abroad enhance their educational experience, cross-cultural communication skills and personal character.
“Living alone in a foreign country and studying among peers from different nationalities taught me to adapt, be independent and work with diverse groups of people,” said finance senior Yaffa Meeran, who studied in Paris in spring 2013.
Meeran now serves as a peer advisor for the International Office.
“It was cool because you won’t get this opportunity at any other time of your life,” Meeran said. “It was the best decision I made in college.”
Mazurenko said she advises students not to be apprehensive about studying abroad.
“Students have the most apprehension over the cost and being alone,” Mazurenko said. “It’s scary, but it’s so rewarding. You learn to trust yourself and be prepared for anything.”
According to Mazurenko, the International Office emphasizes proving flexible and accessible options so that the barriers financial need poses are collapsing. NAFSA: Association of International Educators recently recognized the International Office for its First Abroad Scholarship, which provides first-generation college students the opportunity to study abroad by reducing the overall financial cost. English senior Omar Gamboa received the Gilman Scholarship, which is awarded to undergraduates who otherwise would not be able to study abroad, in 2014 to pay for his summer researching literature in Argentina.
“The study abroad office was helpful in presenting students with the numerous financial aid options,” Gamboa said. “Though, besides merely presenting them to us, they really encouraged students to follow through with applying for them.”