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Miami boasts high study abroad numbers

Jessica Sink

Across the nation, college study abroad programs are gaining recognition due to an increase in student participation, and Miami University is no exception.

According to an Open Doors 2009 report by the Institute of International Education, released Nov. 16, Miami University ranks 23rd in the nation among secondary institutions in the percentage of its students participating in study abroad.

This rating is based on records accumulated in the 2007-08 school year, which state 40 percent or 1,439 undergraduate students at Miami studied abroad at some point during their school career. The rating places Miami as the only doctoral institution in Ohio rated in the top 40 for undergraduate participation in study abroad.

Miami University's Office of International Education is home to study abroad programs that offer travel to virtually every continent, with many of them allowing for transfer of scholarships and financial aid. According to Sarah McNitt, study abroad adviser, the most popular destinations are Miami's Luxembourg campus, followed by England, Italy, China and Costa Rica, with approximately 1,152 students studying during the summer, 457 during the semester, and 7 for an academic year.

"When students enter our office, we encourage them to consider their goals and how study abroad will help accomplish them," McNitt said. "We are excited about the fact that our study abroad numbers continue to grow and hope to continue the trend.

The most popular destination, Miami's Luxembourg campus, offers an academically intensive experience along with an immersion in foreign culture. The program sends 40 students to the summer program and 135 students each semester, according to Alyssa Klein, director of the Luxembourg program.

"The Luxembourg program is attractive to many students because of its practicality. It offers Miami Plan courses to keep students on track with their major," Klein said. "Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we try to get students to see the big picture of how it can enhance not only their college experience, but their resume and career options."

Grace Lerner is a returning study abroad participant who spent a semester at Miami's Luxembourg campus. Although she had traveled abroad previously, this was a new experience that allowed her to completely immerse herself in a new culture.

"It was an eye-opening and awesome experience," Lerner said. "I met many new friends, felt very safe and was surprised by the

family-type environment. The professors really care about students, and because it was Miami, the credits transferred easily. I would recommend it to anyone."

There are many study abroad programs offered at Miami and students like Lerner are taking advantage of the opportunity.

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"Even in this economic downturn, our numbers are increasing because students are getting smarter about their f inancial decisions and applying for scholarships," McNitt said.

Miami reflects the national increase in study abroad participation and looks to continue the trend, according to McNitt.

"Colleges throughout the country are focusing on increasing internationalization," McNitt said. "At Miami, we are proud to help contribute to this effort."