Student panel encourages students to study abroad


Student panelists share student abroad experiences (Sara Honda/Staff Writer)

By Sara Honda , Staff writer

A group of students who participated in study abroad post-pandemic restrictions have a message for their peers: leave the campus bubble.

Students spoke on the benefits of study abroad during a panel discussion earlier this month hosted by the modern languages department.

“It is an experience that nobody can understand unless they’ve done it, and you come out of it feeling like a new and changed person in the best way,” said Isabelle Shaver during the panel discussion.

The senior strategic communication major and Italian and political science double minor added that she “really got to discover” who she was.

The Semester TCU-In program offers study abroad opportunities in eight locations where students enroll in a local university and attend courses taught by local professors. Faculty-led summer abroad programs have locations available based on the department who puts on the program. Students can be considered for scholarships and financial aid by completing the FAFSA.

Isabella Shaver during her study abroad Italy. (Courtesy of Isabella Shaver)

Shaver studied abroad in Rome. The panelist, along with others, said their experience was a time of self-discovery that expanded their world view.

Robert Benafield, a junior English and biology double major and Italian minor who also studied in Rome, said that immersing himself in a foreign lifestyle confirmed his passion for his studies.

Benafield took cooking classes, visited museums and studied courses about Italian culture.

“I feel like when you’re studying something you need to know why you’re studying it,” Benafield said. “It helped me get that ‘why.’”

Dr. Nicholas Albanese, an Italian language professor and chair of modern language studies department who led the conversation, said the study abroad program is beneficial to all students in any area of study.

“It is a great way for self-reflection and to challenge our own values, our own ideas and our own perspectives,” Albanese said. “I think that’s immensely valuable.”

Albanese said students should take advantage of the study abroad program to expose themselves to a unique experience.

“Study abroad is the biggest gift that you can give yourself,” Albanese said. “There’s probably never going to be another time in your life when you’re going to be able to do that.”

Information on study abroad programs for 2022 and 2023 are available on the TCU Center for International Studies page.