Have you ever wanted to travel to Spain? Have you dreamed about attending classes in France?
Jillian Marian Itza, a junior communication major, is one student who will be traveling abroad next semester.
“I’m Basque, so I’m going to the Basque country,” Itza said. “I’ll be going to Bilbao Spain. My (extended) family lives like 30 minutes from Bilbao.”
Itza is participating in the Study Abroad program, which is one of three different types of programs offered by the International Learning Opportunities office.
Sara Dart, Education Abroad/NSE advisor, said the study abroad program offers three different types of programs: direct exchange, study abroad and national student exchange.
The study abroad program involves students traveling abroad to a wide variety of countries. Dart explained it’s all about the experience.
“(It’s) taking classes, getting immersed in the culture and really getting a sense for what it’s like to live somewhere else and experience that,”
Direct exchange is where students go and enroll directly at a foreign university that Boise State has a reciprocal relationship with.
“They take classes with the native students, sometimes in English sometimes in the native language of the country,” Dart said.
National student exchange is a program within the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Guam, according to Dart.
“Students can go to any one of about 200 universities and take classes there,” Dart said.
Students that would like to learn abroad can start with the International Learning Opportunities information sessions.
“We offer info sessions in our office a couple times a week,” Dart said. “That’s a good first step. Once you have a sense for where you want to go, it’s good to meet with an academic advisor.”
According to Dart, there are many things to consider when choosing a location.
“Where you go can depend on a lot of things, Dart said. “Maybe you have always wanted to see Australia, so some of it is personal preference. But it also might be determined based on what classes are offered in places. For instance, international business majors often go to either Bilbao Spain, Lyon France or Turin Italy because those places offer a lot of international business classes.”
For some students traveling to these far away destinations could seem out of reach. Many students worry about paying for regular semesters. However, according to Dart, the costs vary depending on where you’re going and on what program you’re enrolled in. Dart said it ranges from paying Boise State’s tuition, to paying the foreign university’s tuition, and/or program fees.
“But you can use all of your financial aid and there are study abroad specific scholarships available, both through our office and through the government and other private foundations,” Dart said.
Itza added to this by saying the cost for her going to Bilbao is about what she is paying now.
There are also different lodging opportunities that go along with the cost according to Dart. The typical options for lodging are a home stay with a local family, living in an apartment off campus or a residence hall on campus.
Living conditions and cost are not the only things that vary. Dart explained sometimes the academic calendars do.
“Although there are some countries that have different academic schedules, for instance students that go to Japan, their fall semester is about October to February and their spring semester is April to July,” Dart said. “So it varies but it’s typically compatible with Boise State’s semester schedule.”
And although this might sound like a well-deserved vacation, study abroad students also have to take a full course load which is comprised of 12 credits to stay compliant with financial aid regulations. However, according to Dart, all credits earned while studying abroad transfer as Boise State credits.
Even though it’s a full course load, students are up for the challenge. Itza chose Spain, where she’ll be immersed in the language and culture while studying.
“I want to take away memories of my family and the fact that I can learn Spanish and can communicate with them,” Itza said. “My whole dream in life is to travel to Spanish-speaking countries and teach English, so knowing Spanish fluently is definitely going to help with that. And the
culture and the experience and everything that comes with it.”