“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
Study abroad is very popular at USC. According to Peter Hilton, Director of USC’s Office of Overseas Studies, nearly 1,000 USC students pursue study abroad through the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences every year. A few weeks ago, the Office of Overseas Studies organized a study abroad fair on campus, featuring current USC students and representatives from dozens of universities around the world, including the University of Deusto in Spain and the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
A major takeaway from my day at the fair is that study abroad at USC truly expands students’ view on the world, often in a way that impacts their understanding of their primary academic focus. Megan Gross is senior at USC studying International Relations with an emphasis on Global Business. She’s also pursuing a minor in French. “I did the USC Paris program through Dornsife,” Megan explained, “I got to stay with a host family in Paris for a semester. It was such an eye-opening experience. I got to solo-travel around Europe and I improved my French exponentially. I also got to take a class at a French university (Institut Catholique) alongside French students, which gave me a completely new perspective and showed me a new way of learning. I learned about International Relations from a European perspective instead of the American perspective that I’m used to, and that totally changed how I view IR – I think that was important for me.”
Study abroad is also a great opportunity to meet people from around the world. Will Groff is a senior at USC studying Cinema & Media Studies along with English. He recently completed the Queen Mary program in East London. “It’s a really big program – I think there were 25 USC students the semester I went, which was great,” Will continued, “We honestly felt like a big family going through this experience together. There were students from all different majors and colleges across USC, and also from universities in other parts of the world. I met people I never would have otherwise!”
Conor Hayes, who is studying computer engineering at USC Viterbi, completed the University of Auckland program last fall. “One of the great things about the program is that USC sets you up so that the transition is easy, and then they leave you alone,” Conor said, “It challenged me to be self-sufficient and forced me to really embrace the opportunities I had to travel and have all these new experiences. And New Zealand is amazing. You can close your eyes and go anywhere, and when you open them up, you’re going to see something beautiful. I made friends with some exchange students from Europe and we’d rent a car on the weekends and go on road trips. It was amazing.”
Study abroad can also change one’s outlook on professional opportunities. Matt Solowan – a USC senior majoring in Economics and Italian – participated in a Milan program through the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES Abroad). “I loved living with a host family and feeling like I was really a part of Italian culture and society,” Matt described, “I spoke the language every day. It really did not feel anything like a vacation, instead I felt like I was actually a resident of the country… Also, after studying abroad, I feel like my professional opportunities have really opened up. I wasn’t considering working in Europe before, but now it feels like an option for me.”
Finally, USC’s study abroad programs feature some truly impactful and relevant hands-on courses. One example of such a course is Geology 499, Environmental Geoscience in the Field, a course taking place in Peru through Dornsife’s Problems without Passports program. Problems without Passports features courses that combine problem-based or inquiry learning research exercises with study in a foreign country. Emily Burt, a graduate student at USC, will be serving as a Teaching Assistant for Problems without Passports’ GEOL 499 this summer. “We’re going to focus on the environmental problems going on in the Amazon Rainforest and Tropical Andes,” Emily explained, “We’re also doing a survey of the research being done in the area to protect the rainforest.”
She concluded with some insight on the value of study abroad experiences. “I think it’s really important for all students to do a study abroad program if they can – to really see what life is like in another country.”
For more information on study abroad options at USC, check out the links below!