New Zealand and Austrailia become popular destinations for students
National Geographic conducted a survey finding that 87 percent of college-age students in the United States could not locate Iraq on a map, 83 percent can’t find Afghanistan, 58 percent couldn’t pinpoint Japan and an alarming 11 percent couldn’t find the US.
So, what did government decide would be the most appropriate course of action against international ignorance?
The United States Senate created a resolution that designated 2006 the Year of Study Abroad.
“For us it actually means very little in terms of special laws,” said CU Study Abroad Advisor Cindy Bosley. “It’s something we already believe in, but it’s nice to have that backing, to know that the Senate thinks it’s important enough to declare it the Year of Study Abroad.”
CU’s Study Abroad Office offers 185 overseas programs through 65 countries all over the world.
“I’ve never been to Japan,” junior Alex Otis said. “But I’m excited to be going to Africa and China too.”
She’s embarking on Semester at Sea next year and it’s one of the most popular programs.
Ten years ago, the majority of popular destinations were in Europe and Mexico. Today, the shift has moved toward Semester at Sea, Australia and New Zealand.
“English speakers are definitely a plus,” Bosley said on why destinations Down Under are becoming popular. “But one reason students could be going there could be because of Hollywood.”
New Zealand and Australia have been featured as backdrops in recent movies such as “Star Wars,” “Lord of the Rings” and “King Kong.” The countries are also different enough to allow for different cultural experiences.
“I really like learning about different cultures,” Otis said. “I think that it’d be a good opportunity to get a taste of different people and places.”
The Senate hopes its resolution will encourage students to visit these places. It recognizes the growing need for students to become more active in a globally competitive market. CU sent 458 students abroad between 1995 and 1996. Last year 1,114 studied abroad.
“Study abroad numbers have continued to increase despite the tragic events of September 11,” Bosley said. “This is likely due to an increased awareness in world affairs and a need for global understanding.”
Nationally, almost a 20 percent increase in students studying abroad between the 2002 and 2003. The programs allow students to delve into cultures, languages and societies to an extent that can’t be offered in a textbook.
“I’m really scared about the food,” Otis said. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that.”
Regardless of their dietary encounters, the vast majority of students return home with more than souvenirs.
“I think the biggest thing that students bring back to campus is just a new perspective,” Bosley said. “They’ve kind of widened their view on things, they have new knowledge about different things, they have just . expanded their minds.”