This past year, more than 60 Mount Union students traveled around the world to pursue coursework through a Direct Exchange program, a USAC program or to complete their student teaching requirement abroad through the Global Student Teaching program. This past summer, 24 students traveled to Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, India, Italy, Spain and Thailand. During the fall and spring semesters, Mount Union students have also studied abroad in Japan, Australia, Canada, Ghana, the Netherlands, China and Poland.
Summer study abroad is a popular option for students who wish to gain experience in a foreign country without leaving campus during the academic year. Kelly Slutz, a Spanish major at Mount Union, traveled to Costa Rica this past summer and thoroughly enjoyed her experience. “My classes were really worthwhile. I learned a lot in my Spanish Conversation class, and we had a lot of fun,” she said.
|San Ramon, Costa Rica|
Slutz studied the Spanish language, local dance and cuisine, as well as the local environment and links between the environment and poverty. She lived with a host family while in Costa Rica, and like so many students who have studied abroad, agreed that it was one of the most rewarding experiences while there. “I lived with a host family, and they were amazing. That was the part that I was most concerned about going into the program, but it ended up being the best part. They really made me feel comfortable and like a part of the family. I was able to go with them to so many different things, and I really made a lifelong friendship with my host mom. We talked a lot and did a lot of things together, and I still talk to her as much as I can using Skype and Facebook. They really did a good job caring for and understanding me.”
Slutz’s one complaint about studying abroad during the summer months? “Six weeks was way too short,” she said.
Other Mount Union students who have studied abroad have reported similar experiences. Julie Seman traveled abroad to Kansai Gadai in Japan as part of a Direct Exchange program. She appreciated that her professors at Kansai Gadai balanced their coursework so that students would still have time to explore the country’s cultural offerings: “…they gave you just enough work that you learned a good amount while still having the freedom to travel,” she said.
Zac Suhar, who studied in Alicante, Spain, encountered a similar experience, “The schoolwork was critical in improving and speaking the Spanish language, but my course load was not very heavy. I took advantage of culture immersion courses as well as cooking and sailing,” he said.
Unlike Slutz, Seman stayed in university housing while abroad. “I loved it so much because I met friends from all over the world…” she said. One of Seman’s favorite aspects of the study abroad experience was simply the difference in one’s daily routine while abroad. “I loved experiencing were different from America. Anything from restaurants, transportation, sight-seeing and even grocery stores were an adventure, even if it was just a little one!”
The advice Seman would give to other Mount Union students? “I would 100% recommend studying abroad to anyone. It was such an amazing, life-changing experience. I learned so much about other cultures and even myself. It was extremely eye-opening!”
|Stephanie Porten at Harry Potter Studios in England|
Some students choose to travel to English-speaking countries for their study abroad experience. Stephanie Porten, a writing major at Mount Union, traveled to London this past summer where she studied at Imperial College. While Porten did not technically face a language barrier, she still encountered obstacles. “I found that the culture (and sometimes the language too) is very different from the US and I still got experience as a 'foreigner'. I refer you to the George Bernard Shaw quote "England and America are two countries separated by a common language." I (as well as my program mates) found this to be very true,” said Porten.
Despite minor cultural obstacles, Porten agreed that the experience is worth it. When asked if she would recommend study abroad to other Mount Union students, she responded, “Absolutely! Being in another country is an experience that changes your life and your perspective on the world in all sorts of unexpected ways. It's good from an academic standpoint because you're getting different kinds of experiences inside of the classroom. It's good from a cultural perspective because there are some things that you can only learn or pick up on by being in a new environment.”
Some students choose not to study abroad because the thought of leaving for a foreign country by oneself is too intimidating. What would our study abroad alums say about that? Lauren Olivier, who studied in Torino, Italy, said, “I was terrified because I didn't know a single person but everyone going to that location is in the same boat and it is a journey. The things that you experience, the friends you make, the people you meet that are absolutely the nicest and most helpful people ever and the thrill of trying something new is worth the temporary fear, because at the end of the journey you will not want to leave to go home.”
And one of the best parts of study abroad? Suhar summed up the sentiment of most study abroad alums when discussing the opportunity for travel, “My favorite memory from studying abroad was the amount of traveling I was able to do, and by the end of the spring semester I was able to visit more than seven countries.”
Mount Union also sent four faculty members abroad this past summer to teach at various universities. Faculty member Mark McConnell taught in Thailand, Dr. Jim Thoma taught in China, and Dr. Jamie Capuzza and Dr. Ivory Lyons both traveled to India to teach.
|Beijing Sport University|
Dr. Thoma, who taught at Beijing Sport University in Beijing, China, taught coursework on International Sports Organizations. He enjoyed seeing the sites and working with his students, though at times there was a language barrier. Some differences he encountered teaching at a foreign university? “The classroom computers are locked so the professor must retrieve a key and unlock the computer before each class."
"Youtube is blocked in China so that good resourse is unavailable,” he continued. But concerning the students he taught, Dr. Thoma stated, “Most work very hard as the course is in addition to their normal full load. I have taught there previously so I knew what to expect. Nice people.”
Dr. Capuzza traveled to Christ University in Bangalore, India this past summer to teach coursework on Intercultural Communication. Capuzza has traveled to India in the past, and was anxious to return. “India is such a complicated and fascinating country so you definitely need to visit multiple times to even begin to understand and appreciate it,” she said.
Should other faculty members teach abroad? Capuzza and Thoma think so. “I think it is imperative that we teach from a global perspective and the best way to do that well as a professor is to have international experiences. When I teach classes like Intercultural Communication or a gender studies class, I can pull from an entire repertoire of examples from many countries because I've been there and have seen it with my own eyes,” said Capuzza.
The opportunities for study abroad at Mount Union are endless. Students and faculty have the opportunity to travel to any continent on the planet through programs right here at our university! And summer study abroad experiences provide a convenient, inexpensive way to gain international experience while studying and working at the University of Mount Union!
-Alicia Andreani, assistant at the Center for Global Education for activities
For more information, contact Dr. Jennifer Hall, Dawn Adams, Scott Slabaugh, or Alicia Andreani at the Global Center for Education.
|Dr. Thoma's class at Beijing Sport University|
On Tuesday, October 16, Sabrina Harris from USAC visited the Mount Union campus to encourage our students and faculty to travel abroad.
Faculty who wish to teach abroad have many options. One can teach almost anywhere in the world for a full semester or during the summer or January sessions.
Teaching abroad can provide the opportunity to gain a global perspective on coursework regularly taught at one’s home institution and it can also provide the opportunity to tackle new course material. Dr. Jennifer Hall, Director of the Center for Global Education, stated, “Research shows that faculty and staff are critical drivers of global education initiatives. For Mount Union to further internationalize its campus, faculty and staff need professional experiences outside of the U.S.”
Applications are now being accepted for the summer of 2014 and for the 2014-2015 academic year. Applications can be found on the Center for Global Education website.
Another unique opportunity for Mount Union faculty is the FIDA grant. This grant allows faculty to “study abroad” themselves. What better way to promote study abroad to students than by describing one’s own experience?
The FIDA grant is to be awarded to faculty members who have not had much international experience. The faculty member will travel abroad as a student during a summer session to one of USAC’s locations — $1500 is awarded to offset travel costs and USAC tuition is waived.
The faculty member must be contracted to return to campus the following year. The experience lasts anywhere from three to six weeks and includes field trips in the academic program.
Applications are now being accepted and can be found on the Center for Global Education website. The deadline for the Summer 2014 grant application is November 28, 2012.
While some college students can’t wait to spread their wings and travel internationally, many shrink at the prospect of leaving home for the first time to live in a foreign country. In fact, that is one of the main reasons students do not take advantage of study abroad while in college.
What many do not realize is that Mount Union students are provided with an outstanding support network during their time abroad. There are directors on site to ensure that their stay is safe and comfortable, and that they have the tools to excel in your coursework. With Skype and other technologies, it has never been so easy to stay in contact with family back home, or with new friends after a student returns.
Many students admit to being nervous before they leave, but as one such student, Lauren Olivier, stated,“...at the end of the journey you will not want to leave to go home.”
|German International Students present at the tea|
The first international tea of the academic year featured Germany and was held on October 26 in the East Room of HPCC.
International Teas are a marvelous opportunity for the Mount Union community to gain knowledge of the culture, history and food of specific countries.
At the German tea, spatzle, German Potato Salad and apple strudel were provided. Attendees even had the opportunity to speak with international students from Germany.
The next International Tea will feature France and will be held on November 16 in HPCC at 4:30 p.m. The tea will feature new French faculty member, Dr. Bertrand Landry.
An information session was held on October 30 for students interested in studying abroad in France.
|Dr. Landry and students present|
Dr. Bertrand Landry spoke about life in France, focusing on French gastronomy. Morgane Bion spoke about the program in Pau, and Prisca Douyere spoke about Rouen, our newest study abroad location in France. Other presenters included Stephanie Hillensbeck and Gus Delawder, both of whom are previous study abroad students from the programs in Pau and Quebec. Dr. Hall, director of the Center for Global Education, hosted the program.
The event was catered by AVI. Ham and chocolate crêpes were served. The event was organized by Alicia Andreani, assistant to the Center for Global Education for Activities.
Students who wish to find out more about the programs in Pau and Rouen can contact the Center for Global Education. Students can also contact Dr. Jennifer Hall, Dr. Bertrand Landry and Alicia Andreani, the French faculty and staff, if they have any questions.
Read Ennouncements and watch for fliers for upcoming information sessions on other country-specific destinations.
According to the U.S. Departments of State and Education, “International Education Week is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide." This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is part of our efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences in the United States.
We encourage the participation of all individuals and institutions interested in international education and exchange activities, including schools, colleges and universities, embassies, international organizations, businesses, associations, and community organizations. (www.iew.state.gov).
Here at Mount Union, International Education Week began with the International Dinner held November 10 in the HPCC Dining Commons.
Lunch tables will be set up throughout the week to teach students basic French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic.
The week will conclude with the International Tea featuring France on Friday, November 16.
Join us to discover your own global perspective right here at Mount Union!
Special Points of Interest
- Faculty and Administrative Staff FIDA Grant Application deadline is November 28.
- Applications for faculty wishing to teach abroad in the summer 2014 and 2014-2015 Academic Year are now being accepted.
- The next International Tea featuring France is November 16.
- International Education Week is November 12-16.
The Center for Global Education
van den Eynden Hall
1972 Clark Avenue
Alliance, Ohio 44601
Newsletter created by Alicia Andreani, assistant to the Center of Global Education for activities