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US students don’t need passports for study abroad experience

Many at the university urge students to study abroad, and some consider it a near requirement to graduate and be globally competitive in the workforce.

However, not having a passport shouldn’t keep students from developing a well-rounded, diverse and cultured learning experience that would make a great resume.

One of the probable reasons why only one-third of the country’s citizens have passports is likely the large geographical area the U.S. spans. In this land of 3 million square miles, one could fit most of Europe.

This stretch from sea to shining sea is what gives the country its diversity of citizens.

If the goal is to develop a culturally diverse and well-traveled education, then many don’t have to look much further than Florida, a far more economically viable option. Anyone who has spent anytime in any two counties in Florida could tell you the state is flooded with diversity.

In this state alone, many can acknowledge the significant differences in culture and lifestyle between Tampa and Tallahassee, Ocala and Hialeah and Miami and Gainesville. Often times, it could seem as though Florida could be split into two separate states, with the huge culture gaps one would find in North Florida, which resembles Georgia and Alabama more than South Florida.

In these vastly different cities in one state alone, one can gain significant skills to better one’s education. For example, if one were to spend a single week in Miami, one could pick up a huge lesson in Caribbean culture as well as learn some essential phrases in languages such as Spanish and Creole.

While staying within American borders, one could leave the state and still find an exponential amount of diversity.

Besides the country’s reputation as a melting pot brought on by a growing number of cultures, proven by the absence of official language at the federal level, one can find vastly different subcultures in American culture. This ranges from liberal metropolitan cities to the conservative rural area of the Midwest, from the culture of states like Louisiana compared to states such as Massachusetts or Hawaii.

While it would be a dream for some to take an ancient civilization course in the heart of Rome or Athens, there are plenty of options to increase one’s skills domestically. Every year, multiple professional organizations host statewide and national conventions and seminars in colleges and cities nationwide. A student has to simply sign-up for one — professors and graduate students do it all the time.

In addition to those, one could always participate in internships or service projects around the country. The hardest part is just taking the leap and traveling to an untraveled part of the country.

It’s not a well-stamped passport that makes study abroad experiences good for career-building, it’s the experiences that do.

There is no reason taking a few business courses or seminars in New York City, studying exotic species in Hawaii or learning a new language in Miami should be less appealing to a local employer than international experiences.

Traveling abroad in other countries would be nice, but saving the money and staying inside the country could be just as nice.

Alex Rosenthal is a sophomore majoring in classics.