Study Abroad allows students to have life-changing experiences

Steven Lawrence, Staff Writer

Courtesy / GVSU

Grand Valley State University offers over 4,000 Study Abroad programs, allowing GVSU students to travel all over the world and complete classes in their majors.

Studying abroad allows students to learn more about the world around them and have experiences that they would not normally find in a typical classroom setting. Student Lillian Baker studied abroad in Rome from Jan. to Feb. 2020, but was sent home early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite her time abroad getting cut short, Baker said  she would not trade the experience for the world.

“’I’ve always loved to travel and knew I wanted to study abroad,” Baker said. “Although I was studying in Rome, I also visited Interlochen, Switzerland and Budapest; Hungary while I was in Europe; I made an effort to see as much as I could and experience as much as I could.”

Along with experiencing traveling and seeing new parts of the world, Baker said that studying abroad has helped her grow as a person both personally and professionally. 

“I think I developed a lot personally by being independent,” Baker said. “Up until that point in my life I’d always traveled with family so I just followed. Professionally, I think this also enhanced my ability to learn quickly and take initiative.”

When it comes to studying abroad, one thing that turns students away from going into the program is the perceived cost. Many study abroad programs have costs comparable to the cost of an average semester at GVSU, and the Padnos International Center offers many scholarships for students who qualify according to their website. Padnos works with students as much as they can to ensure they get to experience studying abroad.

Some students also worry that with all the independence afforded to them during study abroad trips, they are going to end up in a country where they don’t know the language. Padnos International Center has a solution for that problem as well; students can choose programs that are mostly taught in English or they can immerse themselves in programs taught in other languages.

“I think another barrier to studying abroad is the language barrier,” Baker said. “I was in Rome, but I was able to find a program in which the professors spoke English. It was John Cabot University, an American university in Rome.” 

Due to her time abroad getting cut short by COVID-19, Baker said she is hoping to be able to return to John Cabot over the summer.

Students interested in studying abroad can visit the Padnos International Center website at