A tale of two study abroads


Dozens of study abroad trips are offered at Oakland University. These trips can be personalized to fit a student’s major, schedule and personal interests. With programs on six continents, the process of choosing a trip can feel overwhelming. Two students, Nathan Kaatz and Ghazi Ghazi, shared their experiences with The Oakland Post.

What program did you study abroad with, and what cities were you able to visit?

Ghazi: The name of the program was “Archaeology in Israel.” We resided in Israel, our dig hostel was in Neta, Israel, and we dug on our site called “Khirbet Arai.” But on weekends, we got to travel to different parts of the country, so we visited Nazareth, Tiberia, En Gedi, Masada, the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva and stayed a couple days in Jerusalem.

Nathan: The program was called CIEE [Council on International Educational Exchange] Arts and Sciences – University of Wollongong, located in Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia. Wollongong is a beach town located right on the Pacific. We visited Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, Cairns and Canberra. During my mid-session break, I was also able to travel around Thailand.

What was the impact of education on your trip? We often see study abroad photos on Instagram and Twitter that make study abroad trips look glamorous. How often were you in classes and what type of material were you focusing on?

Ghazi: We would dig from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m., then we’d have a siesta ‘till 3 p.m. At 3:30 p.m., we would wash all the pottery we found from the site that day, and then at 5 p.m. we would have a lecture on different archaeological topics. Some presentations included the history of the site itself, previous sites, the Philistine people, King David etc.

Nathan: The college education system was really different when compared to Oakland. All of my classes only had three assignments—midterm exam, essay/project and final exam. There was little homework and the emphasis was on studying and independent work. I spent less time in class and opted to do more traveling.

What was your favorite part of the trip?

Ghazi: The hostel was great because we got to live with other OU students, along with the Israeli archaeologists, some students from Virginia and some from Australia. Because we weren’t in a huge city, we got to hang out after dinner every day and sit around and laugh and tell funny stories.

Nathan: Sounds cliché, but definitely the people I met and friends I made. My new friends and I already have plans to meet up in October and December. Also, traveling allowed me to see things I never imagined I’d see. I was able to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef and be blessed by a monk in Thailand.

What is the most valuable thing you learned on your trip?

Ghazi: The most valuable thing I learned from this trip is life is for living. There are so many opportunities outside everyone’s comfort bubble and once you step out of it, you get to experience so many amazing things. I think that one of the most valuable things I learned is that to really take in what is around you and be grateful for the opportunities you get in life, whether big or small.

Nathan: I learned to be open-minded to other cultures and value systems. I learned to just accept other ways of life instead of trying to force American values.

Would you recommend study abroad programs to future Oakland University students?

Ghazi: Yes, yes, yes. It opens a door to a whole new world once you go abroad, you get to meet amazing people that have different perspectives on life. If you were to study abroad, do it in a country that doesn’t speak your main language, that way you really get to immerse yourself in the country.

Nathan: 100 percent. It was the coolest experience of my life. I think the biggest stigma is the expense factor, but Oakland had plenty of ways to help me out.