It may sound crazy, but you can study abroad as a freshman in certain college programs. Various universities around the United States are beginning to create and promote freshman study abroad programs. Here, at the College of Charleston, there are currently two programs offered to incoming freshmen with five destinations and more in the works!
The ICharleston program is currently offered to students who were not accepted into the College of Charleston fall semester for whatever reason and are offered a chance to study at one of the College’s partner universities in either England, Ireland, Italy, or Canada. They study abroad for their first fall semester and then begin at CofC in the spring. The program allows students to get acquainted with university life while learning responsibility and management skills that will set them up for success for their futures in Charleston. The added bonus is that you get to live in a beautiful city and explore another country while getting college credit at the same time!
The other program currently offered at the College of Charleston is the Humanities and Social Science Fellows program which allows freshmen to study on Charleston’s campus in the fall and then spend their spring semester in the beautiful city of Lugano in southern Switzerland. The program is brand new, with the first cohort of fellows (including me!) studying abroad in the spring of 2019 at Franklin University Switzerland. Franklin University Switzerland is unique for its academic travel courses that take students on trips around the world to study the topics they are learning in a hands-on approach.
I, myself, studied abroad in Switzerland during my freshman spring semester with the HSS Fellows program, and can absolutely recommend studying abroad as a freshman or whenever you get the chance! The great part about studying abroad as a freshman is that it allows you so many more opportunities for traveling abroad for the rest of your time as a college student. You learn how best to balance your school life and personal life in a new and exciting place so early on that you are basically a pro if you ever decide to go again. This means that opportunities such as break programs, Maymesters, summer abroad, regular semesters abroad, and even full year abroad programs are available to you in the coming semesters as a student.
The Gate of Lugano photographed by Corey Chamberlain
Studying abroad as a freshman allows you to get a lot of your general education requirements out of the way while discovering more about yourself and the world around you. Studying abroad helped me improve my time management, money management, social skills, communication, and MUCH more. I was able to see the most incredible places and meet amazing people from all around the globe. Gaining a global perspective enhances the way we think from what we are taught and can learn in an American classroom. I can guarantee that studying abroad will help you improve all aspects of life and help you in future careers and relationships.
If you are currently in high school, study abroad programs are an important aspect to look for in prospective colleges and universities. Financial aid and scholarships may also be granted towards students interested in studying abroad. If you are already in college, no matter what age you are, see what programs are available for your interests and degree programs. You may find yourself in a different country a year from now!