Communication students share abroad experiences

Photo courtesy of Mehnaz Ladha

Studying abroad is an enriching and valuable experience that Ramapo students have the privilege of taking part in if they so choose. From Japan to London to India, there are over a hundred programs to fit the needs and desires of each student.

Ramapo’s communication honor society, Lambda Pi Eta, hosted “Study Abroad 101,” in which global roadrunners, those who have been abroad before, shared information and past experiences with their peers. The event was in partnership with the Roukema Center for International Education and specifically tailored to students with communication arts majors.

Seniors Mehnaz Ladha, president of Lambda Pi Eta, and Jenny Wankmuller were in charge of delivering the presentation. Ladha, a communication arts major with a concentration in journalism and a minor in international studies, studied abroad in Athens, Greece, and Wankmuller, a communication arts major with a concentration in writing and a minor in Spanish, studied abroad in Santiago, Chile.

Ladha and Wankmuller began by speaking about what is required of students for them to be eligible to study abroad. They told students that they must have 32 or more undergraduate credits, a 2.5 GPA and good judicial standing to meet Ramapo’s study abroad criteria. Some individual programs, however, have their own requirements.

The next aspect of studying abroad Ladha and Wankmuller spoke on was the housing options available. These options include staying in a dormitory, homestay, hotel, residencia or shared apartment. Some students can even make private accommodations, meaning if they have a family member that lives in the location of the study abroad program a student is interested in, the student can arrange to stay with that family member.

“Where you live can kind of shape your experience,” said Ladha.

Ladha and Wankmuller then spoke to the benefits of studying abroad, which ranged from personal benefits to academic. One of the biggest benefits that they emphasized was the amount of personal exploration and development that studying abroad allowed them to have.

“You’re not just learning about the country, you’re learning about yourself,” said Ladha.

They also went over resources, honing in on scholarship opportunities. They pointed out that there is an abundance of scholarships out there, with over 300 available through Ramapo alone. They also let students know the deadlines for applying to study abroad, which are Oct. 2 for winter session, spring break and spring semester, Feb. 23 for National Student Exchange and March 1 for summer and fall semester.

Wankmuller then spoke in detail about her time in Chile, which was actually her second time studying abroad at that point. She partook in an eight week internship for a tour booking website called Keteka. While at the internship, she wrote and translated for the site, as well as helped with search engine optimization.

This internship awarded Wankmuller both connections and experience that have already proven to be valuable to her. She has since applied and was accepted for an internship at SunCity Paradise, a travel-based website here in Mahwah.

“I came into the internship practically knowing how to do everything,” said Wankmuller.

Ladha then spoke to her experience studying abroad in Athens. Ladha studied abroad through a petition program, meaning she found an internship outside of Ramapo’s pre-approved programs. While in Athens, Ladha conducted research that centered on the Greek bailout crisis and how it affected small businesses in the neighborhood of Pangrati. She was also able to apply this research to her honors senior project. Outside of the work she had done in Athens, Ladha emphasized the new friendships she made, the experiences she had and the wonderful food she ate.

“Going on when I’m applying to grad school, this is going to be something I’ll definitely talk about,” said Ladha.

The presentation ended by answering students’ questions about studying abroad. Most of these questions pertained to the communication arts major and the programs best suited for it. Ladha and Wankmuller specifically mentioned the faculty-led India study abroad program, which is offered in the spring and summer as an excellent opportunity for communication majors.

“This presentation was really informative,” said junior Olivia Vallen, communication arts major with a concentration in global communication and media. “There are more opportunities in communications study abroad than I realized before.”