By Lillie Noles, Chattanooga, Tenn.– Students studying abroad for educational purposes are being influenced by social and cultural changes throughout other countries, according to those who participate.

The idea of studying abroad started out as a chance to gain knowledge while learning in a different setting. Some students who were able to get involved with the study abroad program argued that being able to study in a different culture serves as a once in a lifetime chance.

Abby Sines, Memphis junior, spent last summer studying in Madrid, Spain. Sines said she went out five out of seven nights a week, but still managed to attend every class because of her love for the courses and their interaction with the city’s history.

She had a chance to study in a classroom setting different to what she was used to. She was also able to sight see in her free time and learn about the specific country’s culture in an educational way.

The free time students are given is turning into an excuse to take advantage of the legal drinking age and increase alcohol intake, Sines said, but that balancing both was not a problem for her.

The cost is the main struggle while studying abroad, and when the price of nightlife is incorporated, the problem only increases, Sines said.

“Night life is a huge part of studying abroad,” said Sines, “But it really helps you step away from the American setting and get a good look at a different culture.”

Kristin Labs, assistant director at the International Programs Office, said students who study abroad through UTC’s program specifically travel to focus on their academics. She said UTC selects each program based on their academic quality to ensure a rewarding experience.

“It gives students a chance to step outside of their comfort zone and really challenge themselves,” said Labs.

The program at UTC is for everyone and faculty is broadening their courses in order to allow more students to study abroad, according to Labs.