SRU study abroad programs expand students’ worldview
Slippery Rock University facilitates study abroad programs for students to spend a semester or a summer earning course credit at hundreds of institutions all over the world, including places like the University of Limerick in Ireland, where Kelli Maxwell, ’17, spent the spring 2015 semester.
March 5, 2018
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - There's a world of opportunity for Slippery Rock University students to experience life outside the United States. Thanks to SRU's study abroad programs, students can earn credits at foreign universities for a few months during the summer or for an entire semester. And the world won't pass them by while they travel it.
"Studying abroad is a great way for the students to get an overseas experience and not cost them anything extra, whether it be tuition and fees or their timeline to graduate," said Theresa Thrower, SRU's assistant director of global exchanges and partnerships who coordinates the University's study abroad programs. "The nice thing about study abroad is most of the upfront costs are the same (as attending SRU) and the additional costs are up to the students."
SRU has established partnerships with more than 30 international universities through exchange programs, where students can take courses at the same tuition rates as SRU and have all their credits applied to their degree program. The OGE also assists students in choosing programs at hundreds of institutions around the world through direct enrollment, where students pay the tuition and fees as determined by the host institution.
The deadline for students to enroll for the summer 2018 or fall 2018 semester is March 15 (click here for more details).
In addition to being both time and cost effective, studying abroad is an investment in students' careers and helps to enhance their ability to market themselves to future employers.
"Students are able to look at different problems from multiple perspectives, work with a diverse workforce across different cultures and gain language skills," said Jenny Kawata, SRU's director of global exchanges and partnerships. "All of those are skills that employers are looking for."
Kelli Maxwell, a 2017 SRU graduate with a degree in marketing, studied abroad in Ireland at the University of Limerick during the spring 2015 semester, taking five business courses, all of which applied to her SRU degree requirements.
"Having the study abroad experience made me a much more self-confident and mature person, and because of this I took on leadership roles for the rest of my time at SRU," said Maxwell, who enjoyed the experience so much that she returned to Ireland and is currently pursuing her master's degree at Limerick in international management and global business. "I gained a unique appreciation for how Europeans view America and our role in a global world. Americans are viewed in a lot of stereotypical ways, for materialism and as trend-setters. It really helped me learn the importance of looking past stereotypes and to understand how the rest of the world views us."
According to Thrower, the OGE helps subsidize costs associated with travel and provides guidance and administrative support for tasks related to immigration, passports and visas. Housing costs are often similar to those for students living on campus at SRU. Accommodations at host institutions vary from campus housing to being placed with a host family. Any additional costs, such as tourist and social activities, are at the discretion of the student.
"I made amazing friends and was fortunate enough to be able to travel all over Europe on the weekends," added Maxwell, who attended a tulip festival in Amsterdam, a St. Patrick's Day celebration in Dublin and a trip to Switzerland.
Studying abroad is also important for students studying foreign languages so they can become fluent speakers. SRU's Department of Modern Languages and Cultures currently has five students studying abroad in Spain this semester, and 12 will study abroad in either Spain, Costa Rica or Mexico this summer.
"One of the major benefits is that students can practice the materials they are studying in class and when they go to another country they practice the language and learn about the culture," said Adelaida Cortijo, professor and chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures. "It opens their minds to other possibilities and career opportunities."
SRU also has a partnership with the Franklin Institute of the University of Alcala, near Madrid, Spain. With an enrollment of nearly 30,000, the University of Alcala is one of the Europe's oldest universities, dating back to the late 13th century, and the Franklin Institute, founded in 1987, is the Alcala's university institute for research on American studies and bilingual education.
"When a student comes back, it changes their lives," said Mari Felix Cubas-Mora, instructor of modern languages and cultures, who explained that there's only so many opportunities in America for students to have conversations in Spanish in a classroom setting and beyond. "At some point, after taking so many classes, you really need to have that experience to take off. That really makes a huge difference. It's irreplaceable what you get from that experience abroad."
"Opportunities for SRU students to travel abroad enhance their learning so they can develop different viewpoints and use them to address local, regional, global and cultural issues," said Brad Wilson, SRU's associate provost for transformational experiences. "Based on these experiences, they're able to achieve one of our University's student learning outcomes, which is developing a worldview that acknowledges diversity and global interdependence."
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