By Rachel Klein
Have you ever sat in class and thought, “Wow, I wish I was in Italy,” as you look out the window at dreary old Illinois?
Tia Van, Illinois Central College’s International Education Coordinator, can help you with just that. Van has lived abroad for three years in 13 different countries, and she’s visited over 30 countries in all of her travels. She speaks Chinese and has worked in China for two years.
ICC offers it’s students a chance to explore other countries, examine other cultures, and experience a chance of a lifetime through their study abroad programs. The International Education Program supplies trips to countries like Italy, China, England, Ireland, France, India and more!
Beyond that, what are the other advantages? Van says studying abroad is great for employment to corporations or international companies. When employers see that you have experience living in another country they’re more likely to hire you over someone who doesn’t if the job involves traveling.
Van also encourages students to travel now through a school program than on your own, it’s much cheaper going through the school. Studying Abroad also looks great when applying for things like scholarships or grad school acceptance.
So this all sounds so great, but what are the cons? Van says the biggest disadvantage is the cost. Which is easily fixed with help from scholarships, saving money from a part or full time job, a GoFundMe page, a classic bake sale, or babysitting. You just have to be creative about it.
As you can see, there are many more advantages than disadvantages, so how do you apply? The requirements include having at least a 2.75 GPA, collecting two faculty recommendations, submitting a personal statement, and attending an interview with a study abroad coordinator. That’s not too hard, right?
ICC offers two summer programs, one to Rome, Italy and one to Xiamen, China. For more information on these two trips you can visit the ICC International Education website or stop in to talk to Van, who accompanies students on these two trips and has tons of travel experience and information about them.
The Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs (ICISP) hosts the other trips that the ICC International Education Program offers. ICISP offers trips that are semesters long instead of just a month out of the summer. However, they include students from Community Colleges all over Illinois, so you won’t just be with ICC students. ICISP offers trips in countries including England, Ireland, France, Spain, China, India, Costa Rica, and Austria.
Donna Lucas, an ICC student, took advantage of an ICISP trip to England this semester. She’s attending college classes at Canterbury Christ Church University in Canterbury, England which is located about an hour away from London.
When asking Lucas about her first experiences in England, she was quite excited.
“I had been wanting to do something like this for so long that I started to believe it was never going to happen,” she said.
Lucas arrived in England three days before she started classes and she was able to admit that she was quite intimidated with it all at first.
“The way this class worked was that it was a full year class so I was coming in halfway through. That probably has to be the biggest con for me. There has been very little I haven’t liked about being here,” Lucas said.
Moving to another country to go to school has to be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time, but if you work so hard to get there then you’re most likely ready to experience it.
“I will say that it didn’t hit me until today when we had a tour of Canterbury Cathedral that I am doing this. That I’m finally experiencing studying overseas,” Lucas said.
If you’re inspired to apply, doing it sooner than later is advised. You must apply by March 15 for ICC’s Summer Programs. For a Summer Program that ICISP offers you must apply before Feb. 10, and for a Fall Semester trip you must apply before May 15.