Olivia Edelman was certain that she wanted to study abroad. Her older sister had studied in Barcelona, Spain during her college career, and she was in love with the idea of going to school in the very same city.
Edelman visited Bloomsburg University’s Office of Global Education as the first step to make her dream happen. What she learned from director Luke Springman was that a semester in Barcelona was not compatible with the course requirements for her major in English secondary education. Instead, Springman suggested that she do her semester abroad in Denmark, a country that BU had not yet sent any of its students.
At first she was not sure. She knew nothing about Denmark and had never even considered it as an option. However, after a bit of research about Aarhus, the city she would be living in, she had made up her mind to become the first Bloomsburg University student to ever study abroad at Aarhus University.
“I was inspired to go to a country that, along with many other people, I do not know much about,” said Edelman. “It was the best experience of my lifetime.”
There are countless benefits of a study abroad experience in college. Students have the opportunity not just to learn about the culture and the people of the countries they visit, but also the cultures of other exchange students. During her semester in Denmark the spring of her junior year, Edelman studied alongside new friends from Australia, Canada and the many other nations that her classmates represented. She also took the opportunity to travel to other countries near Denmark during her free time, including her dream destination of Spain.
As an education major, gaining firsthand experience of how foreign classrooms operate was invaluable. After graduating from BU, Edelman is even contemplating returning to Denmark to teach.
“It was really nice, especially studying to be a teacher, to see how other classroom setups are,” said Edelman. She recalls how Danish classes are much more informal than those that she has taken in the United States. Students call teachers by their first names, and schedules are more relaxed, with classes not always meeting multiple times a week. Some courses even had a different instructor for each unit. “It was really interesting for me to observe.”
Above all, the life lessons that Edelman learned are unique to her study abroad experience. “I went by myself, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I really had to be independent.”
She offers encouragement to any BU student thinking about studying abroad. “Many people think they can’t do it or they can’t afford it… But it’s manageable and really just the best experience ever. Definitely go to another country, because you learn so much about yourself.”
BU has partnerships with over 17 universities around the world, and the Office of Global Education on campus can help students take advantage of these opportunities and more. Study abroad programs exist for full or multiple semesters or for short-term experiences of just a few weeks.
You can read about Edelman’s experiences at Aarhus University in Denmark in her travel blog!
- Nick Cellucci, junior mass communications major