The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Students weigh study abroad options

Every year, many SMU students take the opportunity to study in a foreign country. What better way to learn a different language, culture, religion or even journey on a self-discovering path?

SMU offers students more than 20 year-, semester- and summer-long programs for study abroad in places around the globe. But, a myriad of problems can occur for those students who choose to go through study abroad programs not connected to the university.

“If a student chooses to study abroad through a program that is not affiliated with SMU, he will have to petition all of his classes for transfer credit, much like he would do when taking summer school at a college other than SMU. If it is a semester program, it can be particularly trying to get professors and deans to pre-approve 12 or 15 hours of credit,” said Eric Burns, a study abroad intern.

In addition to pre-approval of courses, students can only take a certain amount of courses for their degrees outside of SMU. This poses a problem for upperclassmen deep into coursework for their majors.

The worries and headaches from the process of getting class approvals steer most students toward SMU study abroad programs.

All courses taken through SMU abroad programs are pre-approved for class credit and there are SMU study abroad scholarships for qualified students. However, if students go through other programs it is highly recommended to begin the course-approval process several months in advance.

“It can take a long time to meet with your adviser and discuss what classes you will need to graduate on time, to get descriptions of the classes that you want to take at the foreign university, and to get the required signatures from advisers, professors, and deans,” Burns said.

Junior Spanish major McKenzie Osborne can attest to the hassles of getting credit transferred.

“I went through a summer program at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico during high school. For five weeks, I lived with a family who only spoke Spanish … we had tests and quizzes in my classes. When I wanted to get my three hours of college credit, SMU wouldn’t take them,” she said.

She will be studying in Spain through SMU this spring.

“When looking at programs I heavily weighted the SMU in Spain program simply because I didn’t want to hassle myself with talking to the dean and trying to convince him that classes at another school were worthy,” Osborne said.

Lindsay Hightower, a junior art history major, questions whether SMU is encouraging new experiences and opportunities or hindering them by making it such an ordeal to study abroad in programs outside of the university.

“Since I’m an art history major I was advised by the department to spend a semester abroad … what would be a better place to study art history than in Italy?” Hightower said. “SMU only has summer programs [in Italy], and I was looking for something more long-term,” she said. “As much as I think it is worth the effort, to be honest, I’m nervous about losing hours in the process.”

Despite the possible nuisance, most students have adventures they would redo in a second. From Copenhagen to Taipei to Russia, a doorway to a new life could be around the corner.

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