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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - Study abroad veterans unite, offer fresh advice with SAVA
By Eric Reikowski, media relations assistant


Culture shock. Re-entry. Transition. These are familiar terms to study abroad students, both those preparing to leave or returning to the United States. They are also the focus of Oakland University’s new student organization, Study Abroad Volunteer Alumni (SAVA). 

“We wanted a place where not only study abroad alumni come together as a support group, but where we could educate others about studying abroad and the process of getting ready to study abroad,” said Matthew Lenda, OU senior and president of SAVA. “I attended a re-entry workshop when I returned from my study abroad in Macerata, Italy, but realized that one meeting for re-entry was not enough.” 

Now, Lenda and others are reaching out to those who could benefit from a social group composed of study abroad veterans. The group will provide a space where individuals can share experiences, build relationships and learn more about study abroad opportunities. 


“People who have studied abroad have an instant bond with one another based on this common experience,” said Dr. Brian Connery, OU’s director of International Education. “I’m really happy to see this group of students creating a more visible and formal network for students who’ve been abroad and those who plan to go.”

As the popularity of study abroad continues to grow, Lenda expects membership in the organization to increase. The personal and professional benefits of studying abroad can last a lifetime, he said. 

“Completing a study abroad shows that you were able to deal with your culture and foreign cultures and that sets you apart from others when looking for a job,” Lenda explained. “You have a better understanding of the rest of the world and employers respect that. More students are realizing the many values of the study abroad.” 

SAVA will meet twice a month, on Sundays, from 5-6 p.m. in the Oakland Center Lake St. Clair Room. Free snacks and refreshments are served. For meeting dates and times, contact Lenda at mglenda@oakland.edu.

To learn more about study abroad programs and opportunities, visit oakland.edu/ie or the International Education Facebook page. To schedule an advising appointment, contact Shirley Campbell at ie@oakland.edu or (248) 370-2889.

Oakland University is a vibrant academic community with nearly 20,000 students and more than 265 academic programs. To learn more about programs, events, and achievements at OU, visit the news site at oakland.edu/newsatou and follow the news team on Twitter at @OaklandU_News.
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