Photo via Abigail McCrory
Leaving school to travel across the world and begin studying gives an opportunity that was not open to people for very long and most students know of these opportunities. What they might not know is what happens between making the decision to study abroad and boarding the plane.
Having an interest in studying abroad is the first step, but it requires acting on that interest to make progress towards hitting the skies.
For most students that starts with a conversation with Study Abroad Program Coordinator, Tina Williams, who helps students choose the program that fits them best.
Some students, like senior business major Abigail McCrory, travel as a group with a class and already know where the trip will take them.
“Luckily with this program they have two set locations a year and they don’t change. So I knew pretty early on that I would be going to Europe and traveling to Belgium for sure,” McCrory said.
The group was already smaller than normal because of traveling restrictions during COVID-19, but Washburn’s application and interview process to study abroad narrowed down the group even further.
Students who don’t travel with a class and spend a full semester away may know where they want to go, but they have additional tasks to complete before that.
“The first step was to apply for a scholarship,” said Shela Pierre Noel, a senior majoring in French and early childhood education.
“So I apply for a scholarship, I get the money and then I make my final decision, which is also part of the application, which is telling them ‘Hey, I want to study abroad.’ Then after that, I had to wait for the school to accept.”
After being cleared and accepted to travel from both sides, the work of getting every other detail ready begins before they leave the campus.
“From there we get all of the logistics like where they will be staying, what their travel plans are, what courses they will enroll in and how they’ll transfer back here to Washburn and count towards their degree,” Williams said.
Even for shorter trips, a lot goes into preparations before they leave Washburn.
“I was surprised by how much pre-departure stuff we needed to do,” McCrory said. “You have to take a little quiz to make sure you understand Washburn’s insurance benefits, and you have to do a health assessment and upload copies of your passport and just things that I wouldn’t have even thought about.”
As an international student, Noel already had a passport but had to make additional arrangements for her semester-long stay.
“Since I was going to stay longer than 30 days, I had to add a visa,” Noel said. “Anybody who’s thinking of studying abroad for more than two weeks needs a long-stay visa.”
Noel also had to schedule a time slot to travel down to Houston, Texas and complete an interview in order to obtain the visa. Noel ran into trouble submitting her application while in Houston, but noted that it was something that was straight-forward to fix and unique to her experience.
Where both Noel and McCrory did not have trouble is with the communication between the International House and their respective departments. For Noel, that was the Modern Language department and for McCrory the School of Business.
“It was way more of a partnership than I was expecting,” McCrory said about the relationship between the two. “Which is great because since they loop Tina in, there’s no loss of communication … it’s way more efficient.”
For Williams and the International House, communication is important as students prepare to leave and travel abroad. Although, once they are away Williams believes it is best to let the students immerse themselves in the environment without constant messages from people at the International House.
The students abroad still have access to Washburn resources and can reach out to people on-campus whenever needed. When Williams does reach out to the students is once they return from their time away.
“They move into what we call the returning phase, where they have some surveys and questionnaires to complete,” Williams said. “and a campus presentation where they go into a classroom or to an event and share their experience.”
Noel and McCrory both encouraged any students interested about studying abroad to take the time to look into it, saying that there are more opportunities and scholarships available than most think.
Both of them said that students should reach out to Williams and meet with her as a first step, and that she is easy to meet with and can help get you started even on a time crunch.
For any students interested in studying abroad over winter break or the spring semester of the 2022-23 school year, the deadline to apply and begin this process is Oct. 15.
Edited by: Glorianna Noland, Simran Shrestha