Indiana State University Newsroom



Indiana State looks to expand study abroad experiences to more students

September 3, 2014

The questions running through the mind of a prospective study abroad student run the gamut - Is spending a semester away from campus worth it? What about language barriers? Is going abroad even affordable?

But a visit to Indiana State University's Center for Global Engagement to meet with Christine Strong, who began as the university's study abroad program director earlier this year, reminds students that what initially appear as challenges can be mostly overcome through early preparation.

"I've had students come to my office and say they want to study abroad, but they've never been on a plane, never been out of Indiana, or they're worried that they don't have the money to go. What students find when they come to me early in their freshman year is that a lot of what they think are barriers to studying abroad can be worked out," Strong said.

Indiana State's study abroad programs are vetted to ensure they meet students' needs - academically, financially and otherwise, Strong noted.

A good place to start their research is the study abroad fair, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10 at Hulman Memorial Student Union, Dede I. Faculty leadership, as well as staff from academic advisement, financial aid, Honors Program and the international studies program will be on-hand to answer questions, and students who have studied abroad will also share their experiences.

"I paid for the trip with money from my savings account that I made from working for a few years, gifts from high school graduation and some money my parents added to my savings," said Elise Middleton, a junior English major who studied abroad in London this summer. "I knew I wanted to study in London a year before I went and made sure to save as much of my wages as I could. In addition, I applied for many study abroad scholarships and received a couple."

Ideally, Strong said students will study abroad during first semester sophomore year to allow time for pre-trip essentials - finding funds, obtaining visas and getting classes approved. She added that it's also the time in a student's college career when they are "freest" and have a wider variety of classes to take.

Strong, former assistant study abroad coordinator at Illinois State University, recommends semester versus summer trips as the cost-per-week is less and experiences tend to better reflect daily life in a country.

To aid students in finding a location to fit their pocketbooks, Strong has fliers detailing estimated university and independent student costs at seven institutions that have study abroad partnerships with Indiana State, including universities in Costa Rica, England, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Scotland.

"Financial aid is widely available to (Indiana State) students and they also have fabulous scholarship opportunities, so studying abroad can be a good goal for students to have if they set that goal early and begin to prepare in their freshman year," Strong said.

Last fiscal year, around 90 Indiana State students studied abroad. It's a number Chris McGrew, director of the Center for Global Engagement, would like to see rise.

"It's really a small percentage of our students who get the chance to study abroad and I would like to see more students go," he said. "If we can find ways to help bring those costs down for them, we hope we see more students take advantage of opportunities Indiana State has for them to get that international experience."

When choosing locations, McGrew reminds students to consider places best fit for their major and career goals, as the experience can be a résumé booster.
Strong's résumé still includes her study abroad experiences, which she said are great talking points when speaking to a perspective employer. The key is explaining the trip's educational and career value, a point the Center for Global Engagement is beginning to involve the Career Center on.

"It's important to know how to talk about the experience to an employer, which means referencing the courses you took and the cross-cultural skills you learned," McGrew said. "Learning to talk about a study abroad experience in an employment context makes a difference."

Contact: Chris McGrew, director, Center for Global Engagement, Indiana State University, 812-237-4325 or chris.mcgrew@indstate.edu

Writer: Betsy Simon, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or betsy.simon@indstate.edu

 

Story Highlights

The university seeks ways to make study abroad experiences more affordable, beneficial to students. Students can learn more about opportunities at the study abroad fair, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10 at Hulman Memorial Student Union, Dede I.

See Also:

Effingham native tapped as winter commencement speaker

Inaugural ‘Inclusive Excellence Awards’ presented

MBA program ranked No. 5 nationally

Seven State alumni among ‘12 Under 40’ honorees

Sycamores place second state’s premier logistics case competition

Build success with social media, expert to explain on Oct. 12