Opinion

Students not required to study abroad through UM

Studying abroad for a semester is a popular form of exploration and adventure for many fortunate college students; however, students might not be aware that they are not confined to only those programs and countries offered by their home university.

Interested in studying in Italy for a semester through the University of Miami? Be aware that students may attend an Italian university, and must first have at least three semesters of college Italian, or be fluent enough to comprehend the lessons, while still maintaining a minimum 2.5 GPA. Regardless of what students are “advised,” nobody has to settle for strictly the study abroad programs existing through their home university, and can, in fact, study a semester in the country of their choice.

Many universities throughout the country offer study abroad programs, often with their own lavish campus. For example, New York University offers an abroad program in Florence where it proudly educates its students at La Pietra grounds, a 57-acre estate of five villas. Reliving the elegance of the Renaissance for an entire semester offers the advantage of getting to know a particular area. In contrast, other programs such as Semester at Sea, (www.semesteratsea.com) offers school-credited curriculums on a 23,000-ton passenger vessel that cruises to over eleven different countries.

In order to take a semester abroad through any of the various programs outside of University of Miami, one must take a leave of absence. The process should be handled sufficiently in advance, and with the help from an advisor. Depending on current school-credit standing, students may have to appeal to The Academic Review Committee before being permitted to take a leave of absence. This is due to the fact that the university would like all students to complete the last 45 credits in residence. Prior pre-approval of classes that will be taken abroad is absolutely obligatory to obtain the credit transfer. After the signatures are received, make copies for personal records and give the originals to your advisor who will keep them in your academic file. Once the semester commences, and the leave of absence begins, the student becomes inactive throughout school records until readmission back into the university. Re-admission is simple and requires a straightforward form sent into the registrars office prior to the semester of return.

If one dreams of seeing the world, one must embrace the challenges involved. With advance planning these challenges can easily be conquered, resulting in a lifetime experience that is irreplaceable with that of time.

Alex Friedman can be contacted at alexandrafriedman@yahoo.com.

October 7, 2003

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