Guest Blogger: Sarah Durney “Why Study Abroad?”

Dublin at night
Dublin at night

From time to time, I like to bring a guest blogger on board to share a unique and interesting opportunity available here at Duquesne. With Family Weekend nearly upon us, one of our academic advisors pays us a visit to speak about study abroad. A big thank you to Sarah Durney for helping us out this week -Jason

durney-pictMy name is Sarah Durney and I’m one of five academic advisors in the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University.  I started my career in academic advising August of 2007.  My background in is liberal arts, so I’m a firm supporter of a broad, classical education.  As an alumna of Duquesne, I majored in World Literature in Psychology and minored in Latin and Biology.

Serving the college in the advising office, I work with about 300 students and help them during the four years of their undergraduate journey.  We meet not only about graduation requirements, but also how to fit in other pieces of a well-rounded classical education, such as internships and study abroad.  Studying abroad for two weeks as part of a spring breakaway, six weeks in the summer, or for an entire semester, is an invaluable experience for students.

In recent years, the Office of International Programs has collaborated with advisors across campus to go on linking missions to partner programs in Ireland, first at National University of Ireland-Galway and now at University College Dublin, to encourage our undergraduate students to study abroad.  One of the advisors from the School of Business, Patty Moore, and I had an opportunity to visit St. Michael’s House in Dublin and UCD’s campus this past September.

University College Dublin is a well-regarded international institution.  The International Programs Office has an academic advisor for visiting students in each school within UCD.  We met two advisors during our visit and they explained the registration process in Dublin.  With a supportive staff and community housing, it would be a wonderful experience for our students to study at UCD for a semester.  There are a numerous programs at UCD so sophomores, juniors and seniors could work with their academic advisor to explore the option of studying abroad while still fulfilling graduation requirements.

There are two important benefits to studying abroad:  one, students gain first-hand experience of a different culture and meet people they never would have under ordinary circumstances.  Secondly, students grow as individuals.  They realize that they are capable of navigating outside of their comfort zones and can succeed in a new environment.  Some of my students who have studied abroad end up looking at international graduate programs or interning at a foreign company after spending a semester in another country.

As Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

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