Increasing Interest in Studying Abroad
According to a new national report, studying abroad by American students has more than tripled over the past two decades, indicating that American students are very interested in getting international experience. The report is from the Institute of International Education (IIE), the leading not-for-profit education and cultural exchange organization in the United States. The report, called “Open Doors,” is published annually.
In the news announcement about the release of the “Open Doors 2012" report, Ann Stock, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs said, “Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. International education creates strong, lasting relationships between the United States and emerging leaders worldwide. Students return home with new perspectives and a global skill set that will allow them to build more prosperous, stable societies."
Wendy Westphal, Ph.D., director of Marian University's study abroad program and assistant professor of German, sees an increased interest in studying abroad at Marian University and knows the benefits of studying abroad. Westphal was a "Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant" at the Albert-Schweitzer Gymnasium in Erfurt, Germany from 2002-2003.
Westphal noted that, "In the past four years, 207 Marian University students have studied abroad. Students have gone everywhere from Austria to Australia." She added that, "The concept of study abroad has changed dramatically in recent years and includes everything from a two-week business course in England to two semesters learning about health care in Botswana."
In addition to the traditional study abroad experience, students have opportunities to work as paid interns, teach English, and do volunteer work abroad. For example, programs like "RISE" (Research Internships in Science and Engineering), which is funded by the German government, matches American science students with Ph.D. students to work on collaborative projects as part of a paid summer internship in Germany. Westphal noted that, "These are absolutely invaluable experiences. Not only does the student gain invaluable professional experience and global knowledge, but also the student who interns abroad establishes international connections that are of ever-increasing importance in the global job market."
Financial Aid Available
According to Westphal, students often ask about the financial aspects of study abroad. It is one of their top concerns. "There are some country- and program-specific funding sources, but one of the best sources of funding for study abroad is the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship program. Every student who receives the Federal Pell Grant and who has been accepted to a study abroad program (minimum of four weeks) is eligible to apply for the scholarship. It is my great hope that more Marian University students will take advantage of this resource!"