By Kayla Duff
Texas State students can benefit from studying abroad
By Kayla Duff
Studying abroad is an increasingly popular option among students in the U.S. Texas State University’s Education Abroad Office offers faculty-led programs, in addition to partnering with affiliated organizations. Benefits of studying abroad include increased cultural awareness, professional skills, adaptive communication, and lifelong friends — and Texas State students have ample opportunity to take advantage of these options.
Through the Education Abroad Office, Texas State faculty members lead 45 study abroad programs to 26 countries around the world. Program destinations include South America, Asia, Europe and Africa. In some cases, classes can be tailored to meet the needs of certain majors or classifications. Faculty-led programs are often held in summer terms to better fit students’ schedules.
Faculty-led programs offer students on-site support through a direct connection to Texas State. Many faculty members lead trips to places with which they are comfortable and familiar. This allows students to gain in-depth insight about culture and local knowledge while still having the freedom to explore on their own.
Dr. Patricia Schiaffini leads an education abroad program in Beijing, China, for Chinese language, honors, and art. Schiaffini organized the program because she wanted students to be immersed in Chinese culture. She loves sharing her local knowledge during the program.
“[Students] can explore on their own, but I always give them the option to travel with me,” Schiaffini said. “They get to go to temples, they can meet friends of mine locally. It’s wonderful.”
Daris Hale created an education abroad program to London, England, and Paris, France, in conjunction with faculty in the Communication Studies and Music departments. The goal of this trip is to allow students to complete their core class requirements – Introduction to Fine Arts and Fundamentals of Human Communication – while observing examples of the class concepts as they travel.
According to Hale, students aren’t the only ones who benefit from faculty-led study abroad programs. Hale became the administrative contact for the London and Paris program, and has learned just as much from the program as students.
“My favorite part is seeing how different the trip is every year,” Hale said. “Students make new connections, and we get to see that. And it’s a learning experience for us as well, to see what works and what doesn’t.”
Faculty-led programs aren’t the only options available to students who want to study abroad. Texas State partners with seven outside organizations called affiliated organizations. These organizations offer alternative options for studying abroad, including academic year programs, semester programs, internships and language immersion programs. Destinations include countries on every continent, and even feature opportunities like taking classes on a cruise ship for a semester. Texas State students must still gain university approval and credit transfer approval to participate in these programs.
Students can choose affiliated programs by criteria such as classes offered, destinations and program length. For students who want to attend a semester program, these organizations offer support for longer trips and remain in communication with both the student’s home university and host university. Semester trips allow students to immerse themselves in another culture.
Mary Devlin is a senior who participated in an affiliated organization’s semester program to Dublin, Ireland. She returned to the United States with unique memories and a host of new skills.
“It’s amazing how much you learn in a couple of months in a different country,” Devlin said. “I think the biggest thing for me was independence. I had to solve problems on my own in a new place. It was hard, but so useful.”
In academic year 2015-16, 325,339 American students studied abroad for academic credit, according to data from the U.S. Department of State. This was a 4% increase over the previous year. In addition, universities reported 23,125 students participating in non-credit work, internships or volunteer opportunities in the same year.
Given what students gain from studying abroad – everything from problem-solving to a new cultural perspective – it’s no wonder students are taking advantage of the opportunities at Texas State.
Kenna Heroy, a sophomore education major, studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain through one of Texas State’s faculty-led programs. She will always remember her trip.
“The memories and the friends you make are incredible,” Heroy said. “I think everyone should study abroad if they can.”
For students interested in education abroad, you can find information about Texas State’s programs and affiliated organizations on the Education Abroad website here: https://www.educationabroad.txstate.edu/