Feb 05, 2013

TnCIS Provides Life-Changing Educational Experiences

Amanda Bunt Gains New Outlook

Columbia State Community College student Amanda Bunt displays one of the souvenirs she brought back from her trip to Greece. Bunt took advantage of the study abroad experience through TnCIS. For more information, please visit http://tncis.org.

"I encourage anybody who has any interest in travel at all to do this," said Columbia State student Amanda Bunt. "Thanks to Columbia State Community College I was able to travel and earn college credit hours. Few people know of the amazing opportunities the school offers through TnCIS."

Bunt, a Lawrence county native, is one of many Tennessee College students who have taken advantage of the opportunity to study abroad through TnCIS, a program representing 19 colleges and universities devoted to making international education and cultural understanding a central goal of higher learning throughout the state of Tennessee.

"It was pretty simple. The TnCIS website is a really good website-it kind of guides you through step by step," said Bunt, who learned about the program through a Columbia State email. The TnCIS website provides a list of 15 international locations to which students may choose to travel. The programs available for summer 2010 are short termed and include destinations such as Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America.

Bunt traveled 24 hours to Greece with a group of approximately 40 other students from other colleges and universities around Tennessee. "I took a three-week Introduction to Ethics class while there," said Bunt. The program features a variety of courses that students may take to fulfill general major or elective requirements.

"We had class every other day for about two or three hours in the morning," explained Bunt. "There were two or three planned expeditions every week." Students went on numerous expeditions while in Greece-Athens and Olympia were among the list of places visited.

"My favorite place was called Cape Sunion. There was a temple-the Temple of Poseidon-that overlooked the Agean Sea and it was just amazing," exclaimed Bunt while reflecting on her experience.

Not only did the students have the opportunity to do some sightseeing and earn college credit, but they also got the opportunity to learn first-hand about Greek culture. "The first two weeks of the trip we stayed in a little village and got really well acquainted with the Greek people and the heart of Greek Culture-we learned to speak some Greek, we ate Greek food and we got to know the Greek people," said Bunt.

"It's such an eye-opening experience that you can't get any other way than traveling. Traveling abroad is so different-to break outside the classroom walls and actually be there. Instead of just being told about all this stuff, we got to see it which is really amazing," said the art major. "I guess my favorite part would be probably the sites. All the stuff you get to take in-it's just a whole new experience."

Any student who is at least 18 years of age having a minimum 2.0 grade point average is eligible to apply to go on a trip via TnCIS. Applicants must also have completed at least 12 hours of college level courses before they start the study abroad program.

Federal and State financial aid can cover some of the cost of the program. Students interested should contact their financial aid advisor. "This year we have been fortunate enough to have been awarded some money from the Columbia State Foundation to devote to study abroad- A few scholarships will be available," said Ana Basoa-McMillan, associate professor of Spanish and English at Columbia State. "Don't let this opportunity pass you by."

"I just think it's been great. It has changed my life-I have such a new outlook on life, education and people. It really helps you to appreciate people from other cultures and understand them better," said Bunt. "Not only that, but you're in the environment of the thing you're actually learning about instead of just looking at pictures in books. It really helps to see it. I encourage anybody to do this-it would benefit them in so many different ways."

For more information about the TnCIS program or to apply, visit the website at http://www.tncis.org.

Columbia State is a two-year college, serving a nine-county area in southern Middle Tennessee with locations in Columbia, Franklin, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg and Clifton. As Tennessee's first community college, Columbia State is committed to increasing access and enhancing diversity at all five campuses. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, the sixth largest higher education system in the nation. For more information, please visit www.columbiastate.edu.