Studying abroad can be a scary, overwhelming idea to students. To answer lingering questions and share their experiences abroad, three Indiana University of Pennsylvania alumni spoke at yesterday’s Six O’Clock series, “The Impact of Studying Abroad on Your Future.”
Nick Karas, Leah Marmo and Chad Buckwalter are all accomplished IUP graduates who share a love for travel and extremely rewarding experiences overseas.
Karas, a 2006 IUP graduate with a bachelor’s degree in geography, is now a chef at Nap’s Cucina Mia on Philadelphia Street after studying abroad at a culinary school in Florence, Italy.
Marmo, a 2010 graduate, is now a social worker in Pittsburgh.
She studied abroad in Poland to complete the research requirement for her bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Buckwalter, a 2009 graduate, studied abroad in China to fulfill his international business degree.
He also earned a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies during his time at IUP.
The speakers touched on many topics during the panel discussion.
Moderator Jessica Halchak, assistant director of education abroad in the Office of International Education, posed questions about the speakers’ times abroad and how they have affected their professional lives.
“Every day was a challenge, and every day was something new,” Marmo said about her experience in Poland.
“So, what I took from that was to always take every opportunity, and that really gives me an edge at my work.”
One strong message that all of the speakers agreed with was for students to take advantage of the opportunity they have now to study abroad.
They explained how fast life happens: Marriage, jobs and kids, while blessings, are huge limiting factors to travel.
Now, the college years, is the time to embrace freedom and explore.
“I made great steps while I was there [in Italy] as a person and as a thinker,” Karas said.
“Having the time without American culture and television to focus on completely changed my life. It was a chance to really realize how big the world is, as well as I became terrified with the thought of how little of it I’m going to get the chance to see.”
Buckwalter said that students should not be worried about money when considering studying abroad.
“I’ve learned not to worry about money,” he said.
“If I want to go somewere, I just pick up my backpack and go, as long as I have my plane ticket, I can survive.”
Many resources are available for students who want to study abroad but think they are limited by finances.
IUP has programs that allow students to pay in-state tuition and out-of-state fees while abroad, thus making it very affordable, according to Halchak
Students who are interested in studying abroad are encouraged to attend the Education Abroad Fair Wednesday, from noon-3 p.m. in the HUB atrium.
There are study abroad workshops every Wednesday in B-39 Delaney Hall at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.