Bearcats Abroad: Take Your Education Anywhere
Written by Chris Pasion, graduate assistant to The Graduate School.
“Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.”
― Wendell Berry
Many undergraduate students consider study abroad during their time in college. The vibrant campus culture surrounding study abroad promotes international experience as having a substantial positive impact on one’s academic and personal growth. While much of this seems to be directed at undergrads, there are a wealth of opportunities for graduate students to work study abroad into our education.
Study abroad is an option for graduate students; whether you are considering an entire degree abroad or want to partake in a shorter, week-long trip, the UC International office has a plethora of options – including over 80 faculty-led trips – to fit into your degree. At the graduate level, many of the study abroad programs are initiated and run by the college. Departments work study abroad into certain classes to reinforce the course content and learning objectives. For example, the Lindner College of Business’ MBA program is one of the top proponents of study abroad, sending students on semester-long trips to China, Chile, and France, where they obtain a deeper understanding of the global economy.
MA of Communications student – and UC International GA – Lindsey Schneider Barta is currently preparing for her second study abroad trip, a class which will take her to Greece and Rome to learn about ancient medicine from the original texts and manuscripts. Her first trip was as a part of the “Changemakers: Peru” course, a faculty-led experience that allowed students to engage with the developing world and learn about Peruvian culture (and yes, they also got a private tour of Machu Picchu).
“Traveling is always an awesome experience,” Lindsey says. “I feel like you get to reflect on lots of different things and expand your horizons. I think what’s cool about traveling with a class is that it makes everything in the class come alive.” Study abroad grounds course material into the real world, allowing students the chance to turn theory into practice in a place that is completely different from their usual surroundings.
UC International’s assistant director of international programs, Crystal Craycraft, describes her love of travel as having started during a faculty-led study abroad program. During her undergraduate studies, she spent a semester in Xi’an, China where she studied the Silk Road and Chinese history. After her semester in Xi’an, Crystal completed an internship in Beijing and then worked for a study abroad agency for two years. She quickly realized study abroad was the field she wanted to pursue a career in, so she completed an online degree while teaching English at a university in Hangzhou, China. All of this stemmed from that first decision to take a step outside of her comfort zone. On her experiences abroad, Crystal says they “certainly shaped and molded the way I view the world. It’s absolutely been an integral part of my career journey. I am one of those people who, once I traveled the first time, I’ve had the itch to travel more ever since.”
The financial cost that comes along with study abroad can be a real barrier for making study abroad happen, but there are scholarships and fellowships out there to help aid students in getting out into the world, regardless of finances. The office of Nationally Competitive Awards is one great resource to tap into if your program does not have a study abroad option built into the curriculum. There are a lot of scholarship opportunities - such as the Marshall and Mitchell Awards, among others - that could help to fund research, conferences, or scholarship abroad, from fellowships to other awards that promote international initiatives.
“One of the biggest benefits of travel – particularly study abroad travel – which we don’t talk about very often is its ability to increase your independence,” says Crystal. “It was a huge learning experience, I would say a vital component for my career, but even beyond that, I’d say it was personally hugely rewarding.”
One last word of advice: Don't forget your passport.