The choice to study abroad is a huge one...and one that requires boatloads of work and dedication to get through the process before you ever step foot on foreign soil.
People that choose to embark on this venture do so for many reasons, but there is one common thread...an edge. I knew that after graduation there would be many candidates in the job market that graduated with the same (or higher) honors as I did, that had just as many extra-curricular activities, etc...but I would have something they didn't. The fact that a student has studied abroad shows they are willing to take risks, willing to change, and able to persevere tedious work. An invaluable edge.
Now Congress wants to give that edge to everyone at no cost...and I'm pissed as hell about it. They want to spend $50 million dollars annually to send students abroad.
"Study abroad is not a frill," said Peter McPherson, chairman of the Lincoln Commission and former president of Michigan State University. "If you have a number of students go abroad and come back, it changes the way people can teach. It adds a global richness to a campus that just a few students abroad can't achieve." (source)
That's right, it's not a frill. And yes, it does add to society, which is why we went and PAID for it. It's a HUGE decision that SO many students back out of even when they aren't looking at a free ride. The huge process and financial consideration helps solidify your desire.
It was bad enough sitting in classes with the "Mommy & Daddy are paying my way" kids and the "the government is paying my way" kids. I was one of the "I’m cleaning other people's houses to be here" kids...
Yeah, maybe I'm just bitter, but I hate this free ride crap. Don’t we have soldiers in un-armored hummers in Iraq and we're going to pay for JYA?