Gannon students travel abroad once again

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Grant Burnet outside of the Roman Colosseum during his semester in Rome.

Tyler Hufnagel, Staff Writer

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created many roadblocks that Gannon University adapted to amid changing restrictions and ongoing efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Studying abroad was postponed in 2020, and the programs came to a halt until the pandemic let up.

However, Gannon has sent the largest number (26) of study abroad students overseas this semester, and Meagan Gania, director of Learning Abroad and International Academic Programs, has been working hard “to make this dream a reality.”

Gannon offers a variety of study abroad programs starting with the semester and yearly exchange.

Students who wish to travel abroad through Gannon must be vaccinated, and Gannon relies on the Council on International Educational Exchange’s Health Risk Index and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to navigate the ongoing pandemic.

The semester and yearly exchange programs allow students to spend a year or semester in one of the following countries: Australia, Chile, England, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and Spain, and the tuition for these classes is similar to the cost of a class at Gannon.

Grant Burnet, a junior at Gannon, is studying in Rome, and so far, he is enjoying his experience.

“It has challenged me to rise to the occasion and shown me who I am,” Burnet said.

“I would say it is this newness and freedom to make friends with who I want, join the activities I want, and go where I want that I am benefiting from and like the most.

“It feels like a fresh start, and is a great way to shake off the dust that had accumulated on my academic motivation from online classes and education during these ‘unprecedented times.’”

Although language may seem like it could be a large barrier in some cases, Gania said that students do not need to speak another language to study at the majority of Gannon’s partner universities.

However, Gania also said that pursuing study of the appropriate language at those partner universities “is always encouraged.”

Gania said students learn much more than the material they cover in the classrooms.

“Students who study abroad develop a number of transferrable skills that will suit them in their professional endeavors, such as self-reliance, confidence, problem-solving, critical thinking, self-awareness, empathy and many other skill sets,” she said.

The G.I.F.T. (Gannon: Inspired Faculty-led Travel) Courses are travel experiences woven into courses offered at Gannon. The trips can be a one- to four-week trip over fall break, winter break, spring break or right after school lets out in May.

The course counts as a credit and can go toward a major or minor depending on which trip is taken.

Alternative Break Service Trips, or ABSTs, are led by trained student leaders and advised by faculty members.

These trips occur over spring break and after the spring semester and are a great opportunity for students to get a feel for studying abroad before committing to taking a full semester abroad.

The TRAVEL Program (Transforming Residents Abroad Via Engaged Learning) starts off as a classroom environment where students focus on different topics that they will explore when they take their trip.

The class then goes on a 10–14-day trip where students conduct experiments and study different natural phenomena.

Natalee Stinebiser, a junior in the software engineering double degree program, is studying in Esslingen am Neckar, Germany. Her program was established between the College of Engineering and Business at Gannon and Hochschule Esslingen.

Stinebiser said she decided to study abroad there because it was a part of the dual degree program available through Gannon’s business school and Hochschule Esslingen.

Stinebiser said she will be spending a year there, taking classes for a semester and then working for a global business for her second semester.

Stinebiser said her favorite aspects of her visit so far have been “the food, drinks and architecture that I’ve been surrounded by. Everything here is beautiful.”

Julia Koger, a junior in the physician assistant program who is on a semester-long trip to Rome, said she pursued the program because she had always been interested in studying abroad and getting to experience the everyday life of another culture.

“I think being abroad will help me widen my perspective on various topics and have a better understanding of other cultures and see what they do differently and why,” Koger said.

Koger said she’s enjoyed the experiences that come with day-to-day living in Italy.

“It’s been fun to go to cafes and restaurants and even just the grocery store and school to experience what everyday life in Italy looks like,” she said.

With the COVID-19 pandemic in effect things might seem like they are anything but normal, but that hasn’t been Koger’s experience.

”Things feel fairly normal over here,” she said. “Some places still have capacity [limits] and some make you show vaccination cards, but other than wearing a mask when you walk inside, it has been normal.”

TYLER HUFNAGEL

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