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Extra Credit: Margaret McDiarmid

Part of the Jesuit mission is giving students a worldly view. One of the ways the University achieves this is through its study abroad program, which places students all over the globe, from the Nether-lands to Australia. We cornered program director Margaret McDiarmid and quizzed her about how study abroad fits into the college experience.

What makes studying abroad so important? “If the liberal arts philosophy is to open your mind, to learn about the world, to come out of your little box, there’s no better way than studying abroad. You learn as much about yourself as you do about the culture you’re visiting. And it enhances any discipline: biology, accounting, it doesn’t matter.”

Isn’t sending a college student halfway around the world a bit much? “Hey, everybody should experience culture shock at sometime in their life. I’ve never had a student come back and say, ‘I regret doing that; it was the worst thing I’ve ever done.’ Every challenging moment that might seem like a catastrophe when they’re over there becomes an adventure and a great story by the time they come home. And everyone benefits by learning that the whole world does not live like I do.”

So why doesn’t everyone do it? “Money. The fundamental challenges is how to encourage study abroad and make it affordable for everyone and not just those who are financially able to take advantage of it. It’s a very difficult question. And some students just don’t want it. You still get the argument from some students: ‘I’m going to live my life perfectly fine living right here and speaking English.’ That’s decreasing, though. We’re actually receiving an increased number of students who come here expecting to study abroad.”

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