Studying abroad continues to benefit students and community

Making a sundial, recreating the trial of Socrates in an ancient council chamber, working at local pottery shops and running a race in an ancient Olympic stadium are just a few of the hands-on activities students have participated in when studying abroad with SIU.

Thomas Saville, associate director of Study Abroad Programs, said what sets Ancient Legacies, the study abroad program, apart from other programs is how interactive the trips are.

Each professor who accompanies the trip leads a hands-on activity, said Robert Hahn, professor of philosophy and founder of the Ancient Legacies program.

Study abroad programs through SIU not only provide hands-on activities for students but can boost academic, professional and personal gains.

This year, the program celebrates 30 years since its first excursion and will hold an informational meeting Feb. 9.

Hands-on activities are part of a kinesthetic learning process, Hahn said, that benefit the students and members of the community who partake by helping those philosophical ideas become clearer.

Lindsay VanBrocklin, a senior from Bloomington studying political science, said understanding these ideas can be helpful when applied to a student’s field of study. VanBrocklin has spent time studying abroad in Austria and Kenya.

“Academically, I think it’s a great way to see what I’ve learned put it into an international perspective,” she said. “To experience first-hand the things you’ve been reading your whole life — different types of government and ways of life — and actually being able to apply it to the classroom and the real world is great.”

Studying abroad may also deliver professional benefits.

Even if experience overseas isn’t immediately relevant to an employer, studying abroad is very clearly a direct enhancement to a resume, Saville said.

The more experiences someone has, the more attractive they are as a candidate, VanBrocklin said. People who can translate real world experiences into the office and are able to cut across cultural and language barriers make a big difference, she said.

Many students rule out studying abroad because they think it won’t be time or cost effective, VanBrocklin said. But the truth is, it just takes planning, she said.

“Employers are definitely looking for things outside of the classroom,” she said. “Good grades and test scores just aren’t cutting it anymore.”

Outside the employment world, studying abroad can bring about personal gain as well.

Saville said the two biggest personal benefits are that participants learn about themselves and about the country they call home. Being abroad is a challenging experience and it’s out of most people’s comfort zone, but it’s important if they want to improve their life, he said.

“When we travel, we come home in some ways transformed,” Hahn said. “I hope that transformation leads to the appreciation of where we are now with an awareness of how it could be improved.”

VanBrocklin said the trip completely changed how she will live the rest of her life.

“It sounds cliché, but it was the best experience of my life,” she said.


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About Tiffany Blanchette

Senior at SIUC majoring in photojournalism and zoology. Can be easily reached at or 618-536-3311 ext. 254.

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