Bods are encouraged to study abroad

Last year, 158 Washburn students went abroad through the study abroad programs provided by the International Programs. Besides the academic aspect of the program, students also gained an insight into the rich culture of the country they went to, of which there are 35.

The number of programs they provide is also vast. There are programs for nearly all majors. Usually, though, it is the business majors, Law majors, Nursing majors, and, of course, the Modern Language majors who utilize this facility. Allyson Sass, an administrator at International programs, says that their primary goal now is to recruit more students and promote the program because, as she says, it can be a great resource for those wanting to carve themselves into a more well-rounded person by the end of their college experience.

To put it in general terms, the study abroad programs have a lot of upsides. Since the world is getting smaller, navigating international relations has become a major skill set in the arsenal of any employee. This is one of the reasons a student who has studied abroad is seen in a good light by employers. It is the general understanding that these students know how to handle diversity with respect. By going abroad, students also improve their language skills.

“The best way to learn a language is through immersion,” said Sass. “There are also many opportunities for not just making friends, but also of forming business connections.” Since the friends one makes come from a different cultural context, these connections can become doubly important in helping one know more about the world.

The mind-opening experience, while being externally oriented, can also be internally oriented in that students learn more about themselves: they find out how they handle various situations. As a result, they come back more confident, developing leadership and communication skills.

What puts people off about studying abroad is the notion that the programs can be expensive. Sass said that is not completely true. “Apart from the scholarships that International Programs provides, there are plenty of national scholarships and otherwise,” she said. “There has to be some legwork on the students’ part. If you look hard enough, there are scholarships out there.

The scholarships that the International House provides range from $500 to $ 2000, depending upon the length of the program and the nature of it. If students choose to attain a Washburn Transformational Experience (WTE) scholarship, they will get more scholarship. WTE basically entails making a rigorous plan about how one will proceed with their studies abroad. Students have to present their project at the end of their program. Around 90 percent of all the students who study abroad choose this road.

If they don’t find the program or the university they are looking for on the Washburn directory, they can communicate with the various like organizations International Programs is affiliated with. These programs include International Studies Abroad (ISA), Center for International Studies (CIS), Central College Abroad, Global Links, and many more.

Students have given testimonials of their experience and they describe very positive experiences.

Emily Juhnke, in her semester at sea, through which she visited 12 different countries in 106 days, took her out of her comfort zone. “I learned what it means to be a global citizen,” she wrote in Bods Abroad, an International Programs annual publication. She graduated in 2015 and is grateful for her semester at sea for making her who she is today.

John Shively, along with Caitlin Blocker, Kori Green and Sha’Lan Green published an article on the 2014 newsletter and likened their visit to Japan to that of Dorothy from Wizard of Oz. Shively wrote how Dorothy’s own transformative experience mirrored theirs, as they met new people and were bombarded with new information. They also developed a love for the place.

Heather Ramsdell wrote of her coming to terms with the complexity of the Japanese language and realizing the awe-inspiring vastness of it during her semester in Japan. Her piece is an exemplar of the importance of immersion in any enterprise of learning a language. In Japan, she got to visit many of the cultural and historical sites, which engendered in her a further appreciation of Japanese culture. “Experience is a better teacher than just reading and seeing pretty pictures,” she wrote.

With positive responses like these, the Office of International Programs is only encouraged to expand their reach and promote their study abroad program.