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### Unveiling the Top Secret: Summer Study Abroad and 5 Compelling Reasons to Participate

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not represent the opinions of Her Campus.

The author of this piece is a student contributor affiliated with the Her Campus chapter at St. Andrews.

As the second semester approaches its midpoint, many university students are contemplating their summer arrangements. Numerous individuals are currently engaged in the application procedures for internships and post-graduate positions, pondering how best to utilize their summers productively. What if I were to propose an alternative to the conventional routes of summer internships or leisurely stays at home—a unique opportunity that enables you to venture abroad, immerse yourself in a different culture, enhance your CV, and potentially acquire or refine language skills? So, what is this intriguing prospect, you may wonder? It’s none other than the Summer Study Abroad program!

Administered by the Global Office (sometimes in conjunction with the School of Modern Languages), the Summer Study Abroad program offers eligible students the chance to study overseas for a duration ranging from three weeks to three months, depending on the specific program selected. Explore the various summer study abroad programs available at St Andrews this summer. It’s important to note that certain programs may have restrictions based on degree pathways or specific academic modules. Amidst the flurry of internship applications, the alternative avenues for a productive summer break are often overlooked. This program also provides a condensed study abroad experience without committing to an entire semester or academic year overseas.

For instance, last summer, I participated in the Chinese Language Division (CLD) Program at National Taiwan University in Taipei for a three-month period. I engaged in intensive Mandarin classes and immersed myself in an environment where Mandarin was the predominant language. The daily routine involved three hours of Mandarin classes from Monday to Friday, with a strict Mandarin-only communication policy. While this experience certainly pushed me beyond my comfort zone and presented significant challenges, I cherished the learning opportunities and the exploration of Taipei.

Here are five compelling reasons to contemplate studying abroad this summer:

Exploration Opportunities

Many individuals at St Andrews harbor a passion for travel and often embark on journeys during the semester. A summer study abroad program opens up avenues to visit places that may otherwise remain unexplored due to their distance from home or university. During my time in Taiwan, I encountered numerous American peers who took advantage of weekends to explore both local and international destinations, many of whom had never ventured outside the United States, let alone visited Asia. As a first-time visitor to Taiwan, I seized the opportunity to discover Taipei and its myriad attractions. I embarked on day trips to Jiufen and Shifen, with the former serving as the inspiration for the renowned animated film “Spirited Away,” and ventured to Kaohsiung on the final weekend of my stay. These excursions were truly exhilarating, offering a glimpse into places I might not have otherwise visited.

Culinary Delights and Cultural Immersion

Building on the previous point, a summer study abroad experience exposes you to diverse cultures and culinary traditions that might otherwise remain unexplored. I, being of Chinese descent and having resided in Asia prior to university, harbored a deep appreciation for food. One of my favorite restaurants back home is Din Tai Fung, a Taiwanese chain renowned for its delectable beef noodles. During my time in Taipei, I frequented this establishment to savor its culinary offerings. However, my culinary adventures did not end there. Throughout the summer, I frequented the vibrant Taiwanese night markets, which served as hubs for both shopping and gastronomic delights. These markets provided insights into Taiwanese life and culture, enabling me to forge connections with locals and expatriates, gaining valuable insights into their backgrounds and traditions. Interacting with individuals from diverse backgrounds was a highlight of my summer study abroad experience, offering me the opportunity to partake in Taiwanese cultural practices and festivities such as the Dragon Boat Festival.

Enhanced CV Appeal

In the competitive landscape of internships, job applications, and postgraduate pursuits, distinguishing oneself from a sea of applicants can be daunting. However, a summer study abroad program serves as a unique avenue to set yourself apart. It not only demonstrates a willingness to step out of your comfort zone but also showcases valuable competencies such as resilience, initiative, and cultural awareness—attributes highly sought after in various industries. These skills are not only transferable but also immensely valuable in today’s job market. Who wouldn’t appreciate such a competitive edge?

Language Skills Development

While this aspect primarily applies to those considering a summer study abroad in non-English-speaking countries, many programs incorporate language learning components or are entirely language-focused. In my case, the summer program in Taiwan was language-oriented, immersing me in a Mandarin-speaking environment. Despite possessing basic conversational skills in Mandarin, I lacked the confidence to engage with native speakers. The program propelled me to enhance my Mandarin proficiency and bolster my conversational abilities. Although I did not attain fluency in Mandarin during the summer, the experience instilled a newfound confidence in my language skills, motivating me to continue learning Mandarin independently to sustain the progress made.

Financial Advantages

While the benefits of studying abroad are undeniable, the financial implications can pose a significant hurdle, particularly for semester or year-long programs. However, a summer study abroad presents a cost-effective alternative to reap the rewards of an extended study abroad experience. Some programs may encompass accommodation and meals (typically on university premises), thereby offering potential cost savings. During my summer study abroad, I was fortunate to receive a scholarship from the Taiwanese Ministry of Education covering my living expenses. While tuition fees were not included, this scholarship proved invaluable during my time in Taiwan. It’s worth noting that not all summer study abroad programs may offer such financial assistance, so it’s advisable to thoroughly research the financial aspects of your preferred program(s).

In conclusion, these are five compelling reasons to consider studying abroad this summer! Despite the existence of these enriching summer study abroad programs, they are often underpublicized, resulting in missed opportunities for many students. While my summer study abroad experience presented its share of challenges, it was undeniably rewarding and transformative—a journey I wholeheartedly recommend to those contemplating a similar path. For individuals who have already applied for summer abroad opportunities, get ready for an exciting adventure! And for those who have yet to apply, seize the moment and submit that application form without delay!