ABERDEEN, S.D. – Dominika Blum’s love for travel developed as a child growing up in Poland, when she traveled with her mom to a new place every summer.
“I just thought it was amazing seeing the beauty of each place and taking it all in,” said Blum.
That love for travel has taken Blum to more than 35 countries – and led her to a position at Northern State University, where she encourages students to explore the world.
As NSU Study Abroad and CEIB Advisor, Blum’s goal is to get more students to take advantage of the university’s more than 100 study abroad programs. Northern offers exchange programs; faculty-led programs; and programs through its two partners, International Studies Abroad and The Magellan Exchange. These academic experiences range in length from a few weeks to one or two semesters.
All a student has to do is decide where they want to go and for how long, and Blum’s office will help them figure out the rest.
“It changes your life,” Blum said of studying abroad. “The opportunities that can come from that, especially in such a small world today, are greater even than when I went.“
Studied in Aberdeen, Scotland
Blum studied abroad for a year during college – in another Aberdeen. Her year in Aberdeen, Scotland, got her even more hooked on travel, gave her an international standpoint and also improved her communication skills. Blum pointed out that when you hear people speak in other countries, it can be hard to understand them, so it greatly improves your listening skills and your patience.
Those abilities can be applied to all areas of your life.
“You grow that way. And you can use it anywhere,” she said. “They are skills you can bring back home to make your work, school and community better. We all have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Hearing is the physical ability while listening is a skill.”
Blum said studying abroad allows you to:
- Set yourself apart when applying for jobs or grad school.
- See the world.
- Experience a new culture.
- Learn and study differently.
- Gain independence and self-reliance.
- Discover new interests.
- Make lifelong friends and international connections.
- Get out of your comfort zone.
- Gain a global mindset.
Studying abroad makes the world smaller, Blum said, and the memories last a lifetime.
“Unless you go, you don’t know how it can change your life,” she said.
Scholarships Available for Travel
Some common deterrents to studying abroad include finances, academic credit, safety and fear of the unknown.
But Blum said credits can be transferred. Financial aid is available, including scholarships. Money is even available for flights, depending on the program’s length and type. Blum also assured that students won’t be sent anywhere unsafe.
“The best way to overcome the fear of anything in life is to do what we think we cannot do,” she said. “Looking fear straight in the face and going abroad to learn is the best way to overcome it. We can’t wait for you to come back home and tell us your life-changing stories.”
Some students might prefer traveling with a group on a faculty-led program, while others may prefer to go on their own.
Blum points out they are very different experiences. You are with other students from NSU and your professors are there with you.
“You grow more personally, develop more and learn more if you’re doing it on your own,” she said. “You have to figure things out for yourself. That was my personal experience for two semesters on a student exchange program, and it was unquestionably life changing.”
Blum’s mission is to inspire all students to study abroad.
“Every single program we offer will be advantageous to students. I tell students to have faith, believe it’s possible and you will succeed.”
She also urges them to remember the NSU Study Abroad slogan: “I can do this.”
Study Abroad Fair
Students wanting to learn more about study abroad opportunities are invited to the NSU Study Abroad Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, in the Student Center. This free event will include study abroad advisors, professors, previous study abroad students and NSU study abroad partners.
About Northern State University
Northern State University is a regional university that offers outstanding academics and exceptional extracurricular activities at an affordable price on a safe, welcoming campus. Northern State recently announced its Educational Impact Campaign, with a goal of raising $45 million for a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, new athletic and recreation fields, and an on-campus regional sports complex. Once the campaign is complete, NSU will be the recipient of more than $100 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.