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### Global Prospects at SIU

A vast expanse of towering skyscrapers. Bustling night markets teeming with vendors and patrons. The glow of neon signs adorned with traditional Mandarin Chinese characters brightening the bustling streets. This encapsulated the daily life of Taegan Carpenter, a student at SIU.

Taegan Carpenter, a junior at SIU, is pursuing a major in anthropology and language, cultures, and international studies with a specialization in East Asia. Her academic journey led her to spend close to a year in Taipei, Taiwan, from August 2022 to July 2023. This immersive experience was just one of the many enriching study abroad opportunities available at SIU.

During her time in Taipei, Carpenter delved into learning Mandarin Chinese, both spoken and written, and delved into the rich tapestry of Taiwanese culture. Despite a rigorous schedule of 20 hours of classes per week, she found the workload manageable.

Reflecting on her academic experience, Carpenter remarked, “Consider the hours you spend in undergraduate classes. It easily adds up to 18 hours per week, covering multiple subjects. Contrasting that with my time in Taipei, where I focused on a single course encompassing all these aspects, the workload felt more concentrated.”

The lighter academic burden also afforded Carpenter ample free time to explore the offerings of the country. She fondly recalled embarking on early morning train rides to the northeastern seaside for a surfing session before her afternoon classes—a unique and enriching aspect of her life abroad.

Apart from the academic variances, Carpenter encountered several lifestyle disparities during her time overseas. Her apartment lacked a kitchen sink, the absence of dining halls on campus posed a culinary challenge, and the vibrant diversity of people on the streets stood in stark contrast to the environment in Southern Illinois. Surprisingly, one of the notable distinctions for Carpenter was the functionality and offerings of the 711 stores in Taiwan.

“The 711 outlets there are exceptionally versatile compared to those back home. From purchasing freshly cooked meals to mailing packages, hailing taxis, collecting mail, and even settling bills—these stores offer a myriad of services,” Carpenter shared.

The culinary delights and picturesque landscapes etched unforgettable memories of her journey, yet Carpenter’s time abroad wasn’t devoid of challenges. The initial months in a foreign land, devoid of familiar faces, presented a formidable adjustment period.

“The first few months were undeniably uncomfortable. Homesickness, unfamiliar cuisine, sweltering heat upon arrival—it all compounded the sense of unease. The absence of English-speaking acquaintances made the transition even more daunting,” Carpenter recounted.

She emphasized that such initial struggles are commonplace among solo travelers. However, Carpenter underscored the transformative nature of such experiences and encouraged others not to be deterred by the initial hurdles of studying abroad.

“Upon navigating through those initial hurdles, you discover a reservoir of resilience and creativity within yourself. You adapt, forge new friendships, and explore innovative means of sustenance. My advice? Seize the opportunity wholeheartedly,” Carpenter urged.

The apprehension that often impedes individuals from embarking on such journeys, as Carpenter highlighted, can potentially hinder the myriad benefits awaiting them. Stephanie Mueller, the Director of SIU’s study abroad department, emphasized the enduring advantages of international education beyond the academic realm.

“Studying abroad serves as a significant professional asset for students, enhancing their resumes and endowing them with intercultural competencies, linguistic skills, and a broader worldview—all of which amplify their marketability in future career pursuits,” Mueller affirmed.

Mueller emphasized that there exists a study abroad program tailored to every student’s interests and academic focus. While certain programs necessitate alignment with specific majors, others extend the opportunity to all SIU students. Some of the diverse study abroad opportunities include experiences in Austria, Brazil, England, France, Ireland, Italy, and Spain, catering to a spectrum of interests.

Encouraging prospective participants to consider a global academic venture, Mueller advised preliminary research to familiarize oneself with the host country’s cost of living, visa requirements, and travel logistics. The study abroad department stands ready to assist students in this preparatory phase, including navigating financial aid options.

“Investigate your financial aid package—whether it comprises grants, scholarships, or loans. Understanding your financial resources enables us to provide tailored guidance on leveraging these funds for the study abroad program,” Mueller elaborated.

The application deadline for the summer and fall 2024 study abroad programs is March 1st. To explore further details and enroll in these transformative experiences, visit the SIU Study Abroad website.