Studying abroad at the ESC from a parent's perspective
Laura Orcutt - mother and summer I student from Utah Valley State UniversityI have just returned from an incredible experience in a study abroad program at the European Study Center in Heidelberg, Germany. I experienced so much in just a little over 4 weeks that I know it changed my life forever.
My experience has a different twist as I am an older student, returning to college for another degree, and I have a son who is a high school student, but is attending the local university, as well. We both desired to know German better and we wanted to do some cultural exploring.
How did we choose the ESC? ESC was gracious enough to work with us, understanding our situation that I would accompany my son on the study abroad and attend classes, as well. They made academic learning a family experience. They made it possible. They were able to think out of the box and embrace a new paradigm in the study abroad experience. I applaud them. We each had our own dorm rooms and were treated like college students. In his German class, my son had a student who was also 16 years old from another country. My son was amazed that it was no big deal for the student to travel from his country to another country alone.
Our lives are changed as a result of this study abroad program. My son has far more confidence in himself now. He knows if he pushes his limits, he is able to achieve. It is so important at a young age. He also loved the independence of his own dorm room with a great view (and far away from me). Coming from Utah where we did not travel much, he is now comfortable traveling on different systems and being around others who may not speak his language.
As a much older student, I was very impressed with how well the students accepted me. They made me feel young and I had so much fun. It also allowed me to think (and do homework) on those long train trips to faraway cities. I loved seeing areas I had seen long ago when I was in Europe and exploring new ones.
I think one of the things that parents worry about is will their child be safe. Their child may be an adult, but most have never traveled overseas. The staff at the ESC is wonderful in making sure the students are safely guided from the personal shuttle pick up at the airport to assisting with making travel plans and giving recommendations. The students are quickly set on their feet to begin exploring the area on their own. The experiences are incredible. One group of students flew every weekend to a big city such as London or Rome. Air travel was as cheap as about $45-60 round trip to these places. Another group did an overnight bus trip to Paris. Another planned a Munich - Prague bus excursion. Another planned a Brussels - Amsterdam train trip. Yet another group joined in on a student-organized tour from another university and went to 4 cities in Italy.
Europe seems very safe for traveling around, especially when compared to the US. One has to be a little savvy and aware, especially in the big cities, but overall, it is safe. The traveling experience is a must. It is so convenient with air, bus or train and so affordable from the school's location.
I was also incredibly impressed how hard and quickly the staff took care of our needs. They were outstanding! From setting up travel and appointments for the excursions offered by the ESC to issues with housing and getting around the local area, they deserve a huge round of applause. Thank you for making our dream comes true!