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Study abroad provides lesson in world culture

Submitted by Tatsiana Karaliova on September 24, 2012 – 11:51 amOne Comment

During the summer, 70 UALR students studied abroad in Costa Rica, France, England, Germany, Spain, Mexico, and Istanbul. Exciting experiences and giving them opportunities to learn about different culture first-hand.
“The more globalized the world becomes the more important it is for the UALR students to keep up with the rest of the world and to gain other perspectives on the world,” said the Interim Programs Abroad Assistant Nanette Zobkov. Studying in a foreign country can provide UALR students with these experiences, she said.
UALR offers various programs for studying abroad from short, two to three weeks, faculty led trips, to living abroad for a semester or year.
The Programs Abroad Office holds study abroad information sessions where students are advised on where to start looking for a program, how course credit transfer works or how to fund your studies abroad. Students can apply for a scholarship or financial aid to suppliment expenses.
“I am a big believer in experiential learning,” Zobkov said. “You learn more when you have to learn how to adapt, how to be flexible, how to think on your feet in another environment.”

Spanish and international studies graduate student, Joshua Thomsen, went on a faculty lead trip to Yucatan Peninsula during the summer. He studied Mayan and Mexican colonial art and architecture.
He said that one of the most impressive things he saw there was the site of Uxmal – an ancient Mayan city with its huge pyramid – lit up at night.
“One of the biggest things about studying abroad is that you get outside of your comfort zone and you [because] are in this totally foreign place and it’s hard to get around, so you have to figure [out how to get] around and really learn to problem solve,” Thomsen said.
“I will definitely advise my classmates to go abroad because it’s [an] experience that you will carry for the rest of your life,” Adam Crane, junior biology major, said.
During his study abroad trip this summer Crane visited Rome, Berlin, Paris, Madrid and Salamanca in Spain. Though it was his first time out of the country, he said he didn’t experience any culture shock.

“I spent much more time in Spain, so I grew to like the country a lot,” he said. “But Berlin was a lot of fun, too.”
Crane said that learning about differences, it’s in the small things that make the largest impact. For example, during siesta in Spain when everything is closed, you just need to get used to it.
“I felt more like an adult there, responsible for myself and my actions,” Crane said.
Xeniya Rudolf, sophomore biology and German major, was among five students from the UALR who studied in Germany.
They had an extensive month-long course in German with daily classes and an exam at the end of the course.
Together with instructor and UALR students they went to Berlin and Köln.
“I really liked Berlin, it’s a beautiful city,” Rudolf said. “And it was interesting for me to learn about new ways of living; it’s very different from the United States.”
It was Rudolph’s first visit to Germany, but she plans to apply for an internship program there.
Another student, Blake Shahlaie, sophomore biology and French major, sent two semesters in The United Kingdom.
“It was an incredible experience for me,” he said.
Shahlaie said he was most impressed by the architecture, scenery and history of the country.
“You walk down the street and you see an 800-year-old cathedral and they think it’s no big deal,” Shahlaie said.
He travelled to France, Italy, Germany, Ireland, Greece and the Netherlands. Shahlaie said in Europe, he used public transportation for the first time in his life.
Some unexpected things students learned were that geographically, England is smaller than Arkansas and some words in The United Kingdom have different meanings than in the U.S., although it’s the same language in both countries.
The Office of International Services will hold a study abroad information session at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 25 in the Office of International Services located in the Education building room 101.
Topics will include researching study abroad programs, scholarships and financial aid, getting credit and more.
For more information and other events, visit

One Comment »

  • derek lind says:

    It’s a shame that the students involved in, or hope to be involved in the Germany portion of this article no longer have a German Studies Program at UALR. They are without a home now.