Getting the Most out of Your Education: Experiencing Study Abroad

A collection of photos from freshman Katherine Brady's study abroad trip to Switzerland over 2023 spring break.

When most people think of spring break, they probably think of spending time with family or going on a much-needed vacation. However, IUPUI offers study abroad opportunities for students who are looking to get more out of their spring break experience. 

According to freshman biology major Katherine Brady, she heard about studying abroad through her email. 

“I heard about my specific program through an email from the school [IUPUI School of Science] which got me interested since it was only over spring break and fit into my schedule,” Brady said.

Brady has always had an interest in her study abroad program’s topic “health systems around the world.”

“I have always been interested in how we can make things better in our system because it has a lot of major flaws,” Brady said “I think our system hinders the health of the people it claims to serve, and I think learning more about other countries can teach us a lot. Learning how other countries do things can help us edit our own programs and be better equipped to make a healthier future for everyone.”

This will be Brady’s first time outside of the U.S. and feels that the world experience will help her in her career pursuits.

“I want to gain some world experience. I am excited to go out of the country for the first time. I am already learning a lot about the health systems in other countries and in our own and since I want to become a physician, I think this is critical in becoming a well-rounded provider,” Brady said.

In regard to requirements for this experience, it required four pre-trip 4-hour long sessions as well as some other pre-travel requirements.

“We met on Fridays and got lectures from each of the professors on health systems around the world, and we also had pre-travel requirements in a site called iAbroad to complete before departure,” Brady said.

IAbroad is an app that can be found through the IUPUI website that allows students to view personal information, information about their program as well as costs/financial aid information. 

Brady suggests that if a student is able to, they should take the opportunity to do Study Abroad.

“I definitely think that if you’re considering a study abroad program that you start financing your trip now. Apply for scholarships. If you’re wanting to go somewhere, definitely do it,” Brady said. “Apply for a program even if you are unsure if you will get in or not because I think fewer people applied than I thought, and you have no chance of getting in if you don’t apply. Essentially, you probably have a better chance of getting in than you might think, so just go for it and make the deadlines. It is going to be so worth it.”

Director of Study Abroad Stephanie Leslie comments on the benefits of study abroad for students.

“There are many different kinds of opportunities that may be part of a study abroad program – connecting with the local community abroad; exploring the topic of study in a different cultural context; trying new foods and different ways of living; consider how you might incorporate some of these new ideas into your life back home,” Leslie said.

In regard to choosing to study abroad over spring break, Leslie believes spring break is a good time for students with busy schedules to experience study abroad as it aligns better with busy schedules and is, oftentimes, more affordable.

“Spring break is often easier to fit into a student's course, work, and overall life schedules,” Leslie said. “Since students can often add the course within IUPUI’s banded tuition there is usually not an additional tuition cost.” 

Leslie offers thoughts for students considering study abroad saying that, while it isn’t always easy to do something like study abroad, experiences like study abroad help students grow and learn.

 “Now more than ever, the world needs creative problem solving, critical thinking and understanding of the complexities of our world that study abroad fosters,” Leslie said. “We have much to learn from communities around the world who are faced with these same problems and have developed strategies to overcome them.”

Post Trip Q&A with Katherine Brady

Q: What was your biggest take away from the trip?

A: Learning in and about a new place feels amazing. It is very refreshing to hear other people’s takes on things, and to know about a system but then talk to the people the system effects is really intriguing. I think we, as U.S. citizens, tend to see Europe with rose colored lenses, but if we can understand both pros and cons of a different lifestyle, we can better integrate healthy habits into our own lifestyles.

Q: In what ways do you feel it has enriched your IUPUI experience?

A: I think this trip helped me meet people that I would have never met on such a big campus. I feel more connected to others now knowing I have friends across campus and even on other IU campuses.

Q: Did you feel like the trip was worth it? What was the best part of the trip for you?

A: I definitely feel like this trip was worth it; it was amazing to go to another country and experience multiple walks of life outside of the US. One of the best things was the history. I loved seeing all the old buildings, monuments and museums that held so much value.

Q: Would you consider doing it again? If so, would you do anything differently?

A: I would definitely consider doing a trip like this again. I want to travel as much as possible and see everything. One thing I would do differently though is seek out more study abroad scholarships to cover the cost earlier on in the process.

Abigail Godsen (she/her) is a freshman majoring in Applied Information Sciences. She is a reporter for The Campus Citizen. When she isn’t writing, Abby likes to cook, do crossword puzzles and drink a lot of tea. She can be summoned using tea, cardigans and books (according to her roommate Jackie).

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