The Daily Gamecock

Column: All students should study abroad, a Maymester is the perfect place to start

A Maymester is the opportunity of a lifetime, and students should take advantage of it. The benefits of taking a Maymester range from travel exposure, an opportunity to build professional connections internationally and a chance to improve personally. 

Students have the option at USC to take a Maymester, which is a study abroad program in the month of May. Students complete a credited course in another country where they are able to delve into their field of study from an international perspective. In addition to academics, students will be able to interact with locals, try new foods, see new places and step outside of their comfort zone, all of which will round them out more as an individual. 

There are various Maymester programs that differ in location and are offered to all majors. They also differ in length with some courses being three weeks long and others only 10 days. Some of the different programs include a Greece Maymester through the Capstone Scholars program, a sustainability targeted Maymester in Germany under the department of languages, literatures and cultures and a service learning and literacy Maymester in Malawi, Africa led by the College of Information and Communications.These are just a few of the programs open to USC students. 

And if students are not satisfied with their college's Maymester options, they can look to the Darla Moore School of Business which offers a multitude of study abroad courses in various countries. A couple of the programs offered through the business school include studying the business and culture of Morocco and Thailand. While many are offered through Darla Moore, students do not need to be part of the business school to enroll, they must simply have taken any required prerequisites.

“We are open to everyone at USC, so as long as you have a 3.0 GPA and 30 credit hours, really anyone can take any of our classes,” said Amanda Birkenhauer, the director of study abroad in Darla Moore's office of international services.

Within the business school's Maymester courses specifically, students can expect to participate in two to three visits to businesses per day along with the appropriate course content.  Those students will be visiting top industries of the country they are studying in, with the goal to gain insight into that country's business culture. These allow students to directly see how businesses operate internationally and give them an edge when competing for future jobs.

Those who travel appear more ambitious. Planning, budgeting and executing an international trip is no small feat. They also have more knowledge on the world from seeing firsthand how different countries operate, both culturally and politically. 

While the Darla Moore Maymesters are business-focused programs, students also have opportunities to immerse themselves in the culture of the country that they are visiting. In the past, students have gone zorbing in New Zealand, attended sumo wrestling matches in Japan and participated in pasta making classes in Italy. Having this opportunity in a foreign country is a great way to develop travel skills and gain experience with other cultures.

This shorter period of studying abroad is the perfect way to ease into the traveling experience. Maymesters conveniently take place before many students are set to start any internships for the summer, leaving ample time for professional endeavors as well as relaxation, family and friends. For students who are hesitant to commit to programs that last a semester or longer, Maymesters are the perfect chance to get a feel for what studying abroad looks like. 

However, a common hinderance to students thinking about studying abroad is the language barrier, but this should be of no real concern, as students are not expected to have mastered the language of the country they wish to travel to.

“Usually, our faculty, or our staff or a course guide that is with us, they speak the language, so they can help navigate through some of those more difficult situations, like transportation or meals,” Birkenhauer said.


But the biggest worry for students tends to be cost, as traveling nearly anywhere, let alone internationally, can be a great financial burden. That’s why there are scholarship opportunities available for certain Maymester programs such as the Mary Caldwell Study Abroad scholarship for the Multimedia Maymester in Munich and Berlin with the CIC.

The Darla Moore School also offers a Maymester Moore School Global Classroom Scholarship that closes on Feb. 11, 2024. It is important to note, however, that while the Darla Moore Maymesters are open to all majors, the scholarship is only available to business students. 

Ultimately, when considering studying abroad, students should not immediately shy away at the cost. If they are able to afford one of the programs, the places they will see and the memories they will make will be worth it. 

Aside from the educational benefits of studying abroad, the mere act of traveling has shown to carry many of its own benefits. In an article by the Harvard Business Review, psychologist Todd B. Kashdan said the result of travel is “personal growth – greater emotional agility, empathy, and creativity.” These are all useful qualities that will aid students in not only their career but also in their personal lives. 

A Maymester is a great introduction into the study abroad experience. The career skills they will gain and the lessons they will learn will serve them well throughout their lives. The chance to take a Maymester is one students should not pass up, as they will come out of the experience with a new perspective on life.