Study Abroad Program sees record highs

December 08, 2008

During his semester at the University of York in England, Max Robinson has learned a lot about modern English and Irish literature and British archaeology. But the junior English major also discovered quite a bit outside the classroom, such as how to fit in at the local pub and how to entertain 20-somethings on the other side of the Atlantic while performing with the university’s improv group.

Despite the lack of a language barrier, Robinson says acclimating to his host country was at times challenging, but he heartily recommends the experience. He has some advice for next semester’s bumper crop of students planning to study abroad: “I think the key is to expect to freak out somewhat when you first arrive at your school. It’s a lot to take in, but once you get into the swing of things, it’s fantastic.”

A record number of 55 McDaniel students will be going overseas to study during the spring 2009 semester. Of those, 42 will be at the McDaniel-Budapest campus and another two will participate in the College’s exchange program with Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis in the heart of Brussels, Belgium. The remaining 11 students will join McDaniel-affiliated programs at universities in China, France, South Africa, Australia, Ireland, Chile and Spain.

Rose Falkner, director of international and off-campus study, says she is gratified by the steady growth of the study abroad program. She has worked to educate students about available opportunities, while reassuring them that they can financially manage a semester abroad and accommodate their academic schedules.

“In my four-and-a-half years here, the number of students studying overseas has dramatically increased,” Falkner says. “And this past year students have really branched out and are choosing more exotic countries, including Nepal and Ecuador.”

McDaniel scholarships transfer to the McDaniel-Budapest and Brussels programs, while federal and state financial aid can be applied to all of the affiliated programs. Various external scholarships are also available. For the fall semester, Erika Clark ’10 received a $1,500 scholarship from the Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University to study in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Rachel Lopez ’10 received $1,000 from Academic Programs International to study in Grenada, Spain.

In a recent survey of students who have studied abroad during a previous semester, 94 percent of respondents said they would “definitely recommend” the experience to others. “Many said it’s the best thing they did in college,” reports Falkner.

At the University of York, Robinson says he’s enjoying the chance to experience life at a large university in a bustling, historic city where the centuries-old York Minster cathedral presides on a hill and the cobblestone thoroughfare, known as The Shambles, also dates to medieval times. He’s also taken the train to London a few times and, besides the local cafes and pubs, enjoys hanging out at his favorite comics shop, where he says he spends “too much of my disposable income.”

But auditioning for the campus improv group, which has borrowed “The Shambles” for its moniker, “is seriously one of the best decisions I’ve made here,” he says. “Being able to make people laugh is, for me, a big part of how I interact with people. So being able to do it here has really been great and it’s just a fantastic natural high.”