FAQs - Study Abroad
Faith Minnich is director of the Intercultural Office at Messiah College, which houses international student programs, multicultural programs and off-campus programs. She loves learning about and engaging other cultures and is passionate about helping students do the same! Some of her favorite experiences abroad include snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands, caving in Nicaragua, hiking the Swiss Alps, going on safari in Botswana, visiting the temples of Northern Thailand and roaming the streets of London, Paris and Rome. She believes deeply in the transformative learning possible while exploring the globe and works to provide diverse, meaningful opportunities for students to engage the world as reconcilers and servant leaders, both at home and abroad, through her work in the Intercultural Office at Messiah. Faith answers a few of the most commonly asked questions about study abroad.
What's so great about Messiah's study abroad programs?
Messiah deeply values our students' engagement with the world and believes it is essential for becoming a global citizen. Traditional study abroad (a course or semester taken in a different culture) offers you a rich and unique opportunity to engage in learning in a brand new context—whether it be the museums of Paris, the Australian Outback, the fjords of Norway or the African bush. Messiah has nearly 40 semester-long, off-campus program options, and more than 20 short-term courses (called "cross-cultural courses"), in more than 40 countries around the world! In fact, we have opportunities on every continent except Antarctica, and we're still looking for an opportunity there!
What if I don’t want to take a class abroad but still want to travel?
We realize that some students aren't interested or able to take an academic course abroad. Therefore, Messiah also offers a wide variety of service opportunities around the globe (both domestic and international) through the Agape Center for Service and Learning, AROMA Sports Ministry and theCollaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research. There are also a variety of individual student opportunities, such as international internships or international student teaching for education students. Every student—regardless of major—can easily find an opportunity to engage the world at Messiah!
But isn't study abroad for students who major in foreign languages or international business?
While language and international business students are required to study abroad as part of their major requirements, ALL students can study abroad if they want to! Planning ahead is essential to make sure you take advantage of as many of the opportunities available to you as possible.
Don't I need to speak another language to study abroad?
Absolutely not! Some of our programs do have a language requirement, but most of them either are taught in English or include language training as part of the coursework.
Choosing a program, registering for classes, getting a passport, making travel arrangements…it just sounds too confusing! How do I do all of this?
In the Intercultural Office (where study abroad is housed), we walk you through the entire process, from choosing a program, to the logistics of travel, to re-entry to the U.S. We have checklists for everything and try to provide as many resources as possible to make it as easy as possible for you to study abroad. We even have a special camera to take passport photos right here on campus. In fact, lots of students come back and say, “I didn’t realize it would be that easy!”
How can I hear about other students' experiences studying abroad?
Other students who have studied abroad are the best people to talk to because they’ve “been there and done that,” so to speak. Each semester, the Intercultural Office arranges student-led information sessions for each of our semester-long programs that bring together program alumni and interested students so you can hear about other students’ experiences, ask questions, view trip photos and get practical advice on traveling in other countries. You can also view photos submitted in our annual Intercultural Photo Contest by liking us on Facebook and checking out the albums with submissions in various categories.
I'm worried that I can't afford to study abroad. Isn't it expensive?
Messiah recognizes that it’s expensive to come to college. Traveling abroad oftentimes adds additional expense, so we're deeply committed to making our study abroad opportunities as affordable as possible. In fact, many of them are nearly the same cost as being on our main campus! We allow you to take your financial aid with you when you study abroad for a semester and do our best to make our short-term cross-cultural courses as affordable as possible. We also offer a variety of services through the Intercultural Office (passport photos, orientation programming, advising, etc.) that help you get the most out of your experience!
Will I be safe in another country?
We don’t just send our students off to other countries and let them fend for themselves. Each of our semester-long programs has an on-site director who keeps us updated on what's going on in-country and who is available to you 24 hours a day in case of an emergency. Our cross-cultural courses are all led by Messiah faculty who have extensive experience in country and are with students every step of the way. Before you travel, we also provide informational sessions and materials to help you stay as safe as possible. If for some reason Messiah cancels a program for safety reasons, we will work closely with you and our partner abroad to make the transition back to main campus as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
What is the most challenging part of studying abroad?
Studying abroad can be extremely challenging, causing you to step far outside your comfort zone and expand your horizons, both physically and mentally. But with the support of your fellow study abroad students, on-site staff and the Intercultural Office back home, you will not only survive your time abroad, you will thrive! In fact, we hear time and time again from Messiah alumni that their study abroad experience was both the most challenging and most rewarding experience of their college career! So, don't let the potential challenges or nerves stop you from stepping out into the world and experiencing it firsthand. We guarantee you won't regret it if you do (but you might regret it if you don't)!
How will study abroad influence me as a person?
Studying abroad can be a truly transformational experience, allowing you to grow and sharpen skills and competencies that not only make you a better student, but a better global citizen. Some of the skills you'll learn while studying abroad include: adapting to situations of change, becoming more resourceful and dependable, gaining new knowledge from new experiences, understanding cultural differences and learning to work and live with people very different from yourself. Studying abroad can also provide a unique opportunity for professional and career development, particularly if you participate in an internship, service or practicum experience while abroad.
What if I get there and just don't like it?
None of our students have ever returned to the United States because they just didn’t like studying abroad. Yes, you’ll most likely experience some degree of “culture shock,” but we help you prepare for this before you even get on the plane. On-site staff and faculty are also there to help you transition to life in another country. But—trust us—you’re going to love it!