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Students embrace summer study abroad programs

| Wednesday, August 30, 2017

This past summer, some students set their sights beyond the United States.

Some turned to China, Israel or the United Kingdom. Others looked to Russia, Ireland or South Africa. A handful focused on France, Brazil or Italy.

Despite the diverse range of locations, they all had something in common: all were part of Notre Dame International’s (NDI) summer study abroad programs.

NDI’s summer study abroad programs are short-term international excursions allowing students to learn abroad during the summer. According to NDI’s Director of International Programs Rosemary Max, the summer programs introduce students to the world.

The Italian town of Vernazza, located along the Cinque Terre hiking trail, is one of many places visited by Notre Dame students studying abroad.Chris Collins | The Observer

The Italian town of Vernazza, located along the Cinque Terre hiking trail, is one of many places visited by Notre Dame students studying abroad.

“These programs expose students to a broad range of destinations and they open their minds,” Max said. “They come back knowing that they can navigate these places and be successful in them. The world is a big and complex place. It is also an amazing place. We want our students to see this and begin to understand this.”

With 20 programs across 13 countries offered for the summer, Max said NDI opened multiple new programs over the past few years which allowed more students to study abroad in the summer. According to NDI’s website, last year 500 students participated in summer abroad programs as compared to only 313 in 2015.

“Some [students] have not had an international experience and this may be their first and only experience while at Notre Dame,” Max said. “They know that study abroad is a tradition here and they want to participate. These programs allow them to be part of that tradition.”

Summer programs range from one to eight weeks with differing costs per program. Only a select number of students are accepted to each location.

“Summer programs are condensed and intense and students tell us that strong bonds are formed among students in these programs and with Notre Dame faculty who lead these programs and share this experience with students,” Max said.

In addition to seeing the pope, junior Marisa Lenga spent five weeks visiting numerous museums and archaeological sites while studying migration and theology through NDI’s Summer Rome program.

“Being Italian, it was an incredible experience to go to ‘the homeland’ and visit the country of my ancestors,” Lenga said. “I was able to live a completely different culture than in America. Through my study abroad experience, I gained a deeper appreciation for my own heritage and culture.”

From climbing mountains, immersing himself in mud and jumping into freezing cold water to celebrate the Irish holiday of “Bloomsday,” junior Jordan Lazowski said he was fascinated by the way the non-tourist activities of the six-week Dublin program enabled him to see Irish culture in its “truest form.”

“Not only was it doing everything in a different country,” Lazowski said. “It was the experience of meeting new people and forming new friendships while also being able to learn in a very unique setting and unique way. I walked away feeling like there are parts of Irish history I know better than American history and I’ve been studying American history all my life.”

Although Lazowski said life in Ireland was very different from his experiences in the Midwest, he believes the program’s shortness taught him to appreciate every opportunity while also introducing him to different people.

“I’ve come back and I have a new mindset of maintaining these friendships, continue to push myself to try new things and expand outside of my comfort zones,” Lazowski said. “The biggest thing for me was just learning that unless you’re open to trying things, you have no idea what you’re going to accomplish or what you really enjoy in life.”

After studying abroad in Rome the summer before his freshman year and spending three weeks of this past summer in China through NDI’s China Business and Culture program, sophomore Brandon Hardy said he hopes to travel to a different continent every summer of his college career.

“I really want to take advantage and see how the world is because when I was growing up I didn’t travel at all,” Hardy said. “My family didn’t travel, they’ve never been outside of the country, they’ve never even been to most states so it was important for me when I got to college to take the time to go abroad in the summer and unpack different cultures on different continents and also get some credit while doing it.”

Hardy said he and 13 other students learned from various well-known companies in China, such as Goldman Sachs and Nielsen, and had free time to explore Hong Kong and Shanghai on their own while earning three credits through an “Intercultural Communication” course.

“Going abroad does something to you because you get to see something different and it makes you more well-rounded,” Hardy said. “When else would you have an opportunity to do something that short and sweet, get credits, meet people and be on a vacation because you get to see everything else? Opportunities like this are once in a lifetime.”

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About Kelli Smith

Kelli Smith is a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame. Originally from El Paso, Texas, she currently resides in Badin Hall and is pursuing a double major in Political Science and Film, Theater and Television with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy.

Contact Kelli