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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Help! My Friends are Studying Abroad

Junior engineering student Kersten Leahy is not only adjusting to new classes this semester, but also a new living situation. One of her roommates is studying abroad in London for the semester, which is causing some changes in Leahy’s life.  According to the National Survey of Student Engagement, 26 percent of Marquette students study abroad compared to 12 percent of students at peer institutions. What does this statistic mean? It means more Marquette students are left in Milwaukee when their friends venture across the Atlantic. This disruption in one’s social life can be unsettling for many students. Erin LeMoine, the International Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Office of International Education, weighs in on how to deal with this problem.

Keeping in Contact

Update your friends about everything and anything that is going on at Marquette or in Milwaukee. Text them the scores of all of the sports games. Send them a care package with Marquette memorabilia. Remind them of that they have something to come back to.

Leahy has taken the technological route of keeping in contact. She has found Skype, Facebook, and e-mail are the fastest and most efficient ways to talk daily. She also downloaded an app for her iPhone that allows communication that’s similar to a text message, but free when used in wifi hotspots.

When talking to your world-traveling friend, LeMoine suggests being supportive, especially in the beginning.

“Nearly every  student goes through some form of cultural adjustment while living abroad,” LeMoine said. “Your friends may feel a wide range of emotions throughout their experience: happy, sad, lonely, homesick, excited, independent. These emotions are normal and your friends may need you there to simply listen or to be patient if their communication is intermittent.”

Alone on Campus?

There is a slim chance that all of your friends are studying abroad. But having that one friend you are really close to leave is daunting. Leahy says her roommate’s absence has not affected her social life, but not having her around the apartment has been hard. LeMoine recommends taking the alone time as an opportunity to get involved on-campus. Try making new friends though intramural sports, joining a club or picking up a part-time job.

Another good way to think about your situation? While your friends are studying abroad in a foreign country, use your free time to study Milwaukee. Hit up a new restaraunt, catch a concert at the Rave, visit one of the many museums Milwaukee offers. Take advantage of living in a big city.

Friends Return to Campus

When your friends return to campus, it may take some time for them to re-adjust to life at Marquette. Be patient with them. Their cultural experiences may give them new perspectives on college life.
LeMoine advises you to encourage your friends to share their experiences with you through telling stories, sharing pictures and cooking their favorite foods from their host country. This will allow your friends to reflect on their experience, and provide an opportunity  for you to learn what their life was like abroad.

Studying abroad evokes images of adventure, excitement and beautiful places, but not everyone has the opportunity to “hop the pond.” By following the tips from Erin LeMoine, this semester should be culturally enriching for both you and your roommate.







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