Picture yourself zipping past the Coliseum on an old, beat-up Vespa, the sights and sounds of Rome passing you by on a sunny spring afternoon.
Or imagine yourself basking in the glow of thousands of flickering neon lights that turn night into day as hundreds of salarymen and women absorb you in the chaos of Shibuya, Tokyo.
Perhaps you craved the peace and serenity of a quiet stroll with some mates along the gardens of Kensington Palace before heading into Orangery for high tea.
Through the study aboard programs in Rome, Tokyo and London, these images can become a reality.
Junior communications major Kaitlyn Kurosky studied in London last semester, and came to Temple specifically for its study aboard opportunities.
“I have always wanted to study abroad,” Kurosky said. “I have cousins who had done it and had such favorable experiences. I knew that I was going to do it when I was a junior.”
Other study abroad veterans may not have had as much foresight as Kurosky, but their desire to go out and experience something new was just as strong.
“I had always wanted to see some part of Asia, but at the time I didn’t really know anything about Japan or China,” said senior communications major Ben Brandau. “It just kind of sparked my interest. I wanted to do something different.”
Brandau, who was only supposed to stay at Temple University Japan for the spring 2006 semester, ended up extending his visit there for an entire year.
“The extra time that I spent there really made a difference, because while one semester is a long time and gives you a good chance to feel things out, it takes longer than that,” he said. “I still think there are a lot more things to check out.”
Leanne Juzbasich, a senior visual studies and art history major, enjoyed studying abroad so much, she did it twice. She spent the fall 2006 semester at TUJ and last semester at Temple Rome.
“My family traveled a bunch before, and I really enjoyed it,” she said. “I think that traveling is very important, just to see the world and see different things, so that’s why I wanted to keep doing it.”
Her time overseas hasn’t been detrimental to her studies either – if anything it went hand in hand with her art history major.
“In Rome, everything I took counted for my art history major and they were the best classes I’ve had in university,” Juzbasich said. “They’re set up so one day you have lecture and the next day you have an excursion. So you talk about the work and the next day you see it all.”
Juzbasich said she saw more of Rome by taking classes than she would have seen on her own.
“It really helped me appreciate it so much more,” she said.
While studying may be important, these programs also give students the chance to check out other countries abroad.
During her fall break last semester, Kurosky and some friends backpacked from Barcelona to Malaga in Spain.
Some travel experiences are a bit more extreme.
“My best experience was when I went camping on an island [Hachijojima] for three weeks during ‘golden week,’ which is a big break week in Japan,” Brandau said. “I was on my own, camping and eating fish that were freshly caught every day. It was beautiful.”
Sometimes, it’s the simple things, like being immersed into a different culture, which are best remembered.
“Just experiencing the pub culture in London, to see really how much of that is really a part of English culture,” Kurosky said. “In the neighborhoods and on game days for football and rugby. It was intense.”
Although each study abroad program is as diverse as the countries where the campuses are located, there is a recurring sentiment that all the students shared from all campuses – personal growth.
“The experiences you have over there and how you handle them I think shape you as a person,” Juzbasich said. “I’m sure that when I’m older, I’ll have more perspective on everything. I know it’s affected me.”
“It allowed me to set things in perspective in my life,” he said. “I’m a little bit more critical of how I spend my time in school and how I act. It gave me a different outlook on my future and my goals. I totally recommend it.”
Matt Bell can be reached at email@example.com.