Hundreds of Mississippi students study abroad every year, a phenomenon that appears to be part of a global trend.
“I think it’s every university, every higher education, every higher institution, has the goal of globalization, or internationalization. So, I don’t think it’s Ole Miss doing more, I think it’s everybody,” said Professor Henrietta Yang, co-director of the Chinese Flagship Program at Ole Miss.
The globalization push is bringing diverse students to Ole Miss, too. The university’s Office of Global Engagement says that 974 international students from 98 different countries studied at Ole Miss during the fall 2014 semester. At the same time, just under 500 students from Ole Miss studied abroad during the 2014-2015 school year, according to the university’s Study Abroad Office.
Hattie Fisher is an Ole Miss senior in the Chinese Flagship Program. She has nothing but good things to say about her time studying in China.
“The gains are quite literally immeasurable,” said Fisher. “I finally got the experience of being completely on my own, and the cultural perspective one gains while abroad is becoming a vital asset in our rapidly globalizing world.”
Yang, who came to the United States as a student herself, said it is crucial for students to get out and see the world. “It’s not enough just knowing the States anymore, and students need to broaden their horizons and widen their worldview. Those students and faculty bring in diversity.”
Linda Ohairwe, an Ole Miss student from Uganda, says that studying in America is much different.
“The American system lets the student come in with a much more open mind about what he or she wants to study, and the ability to change majors is a big plus. The British system with schools in Uganda narrows this choice down starting in 11th grade, so you have to know what you want your career to look like early on.”
At the same time, Ohairwe says U.S. students could learn something from studying in Uganda.
“The most valuable skill that Americans would obtain would probably be discipline, since Ugandan schools are very keen on that.”
What Fisher says she’s keen on is what she learned about the similarity of people the world over.
“While each may approach a problem from a different perspective, their end goals are ultimately the same. In our world, this sort of cultural insight is desperately needed to bridge the gaps between cultures as they unite under an international system.”
Both Ohairwe and Fisher say they would consider working in a foreign country and say they love being out of their comfort zones.
“I definitely plan on continuing my studies in America. As for work, I hope to work around the world before I settle on a permanent place, but America is very much a viable option,” said Ohairwe.
“I would say I’ve never felt more alive than while in China,” said Fisher.
Studying abroad can come with difficulties, such as economic strain and a heavy workload, but according to Ohairwe, it’s all worth it.
“Different cultures, languages, and fascinating people exist all over the world. Experiencing that helps expand one’s horizons. That is why I study abroad, to experience all those things.”
This story was contributed by Ole Miss journalism student Shelby Nichols, email@example.com.