Study Abroad will expand your horizons

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    Paris, Prague, Munich, Rome, the Aeolian Islands in Italy. What do these have in common?I visited them all during my semester abroad in Paris.

    All students should have an experience like this.

    Study abroad allows students to expand their horizons, meet new people, travel, learn a new culture and perhaps even learn a new language.

    I studied abroad during the spring semester of my sophomore year (a year earlier than I would recommend). I was then in my fourth semester of French and have since become a French major.

    I learned a great deal about myself during this trip. I had been independent before – I am from Kansas City, Kan., and did not know anyone when I arrived at TCU – but I had never been on my own like this. I was in a foreign country without anyone I knew, and I didn’t have a complete or even advanced comprehension of the language spoken there. My nearest friend was in Barcelona, Spain, several hours away.

    In France I learned to survive. I learned to use public transportation. I learned to live with strangers. And of course, I greatly improved my French.

    In the meantime, I traveled. I visited new places and cultures. I listened to new opinions and ideas. I learned how ubiquitous the German language is in Europe – I am now studying German and hope to live in Germany some day.

    Everyone should take the opportunity to learn more about themselves and others through study abroad. And TCU makes it so easy. It has many programs – semesters, summers, internships, even spring breaks. Practically anyone can go abroad.

    And the experience isn’t limited to those who have money. Studying abroad isn’t necessarily more expensive than staying at TCU. My tuition in Paris was actually about $500 less than at TCU, and unlike tuition at TCU, it included room and board. My financial aid still applied, and I even had a small scholarship from CIEE that covered the cost of my plane ticket. Living in Paris was a little more expensive than living in Fort Worth, but my rent was covered, so I only paid for food, shopping and travel expenses.

    And there were many cheaper programs.

    Study abroad is an experience that can change your life.

    At the very least, you will come home with new memories and friends. This isn’t an opportunity you should miss.

    If you don’t have time to study abroad for a semester, go for a summer. TCU is accepting applications right now. The deadline is March 10, but today is the last day to apply for financial aid. Visit http://www.ied.tcu.edu for more information.

    Opinion editor Stephanie Weaver is a senior English, philosophy and French major from Westwood, Kan.