Where do you want to go: London, England or Sydney, Australia? How about spending a semester in Japan or a year in Costa Rica? Not only can one travel to all these places, but one can also earn college credits and even take classes fulfilling general education, major, or minor requirements in all these countries, and many others. This is all possible by studying abroad.Over the past decade, more and more West Chester University students have chosen to study abroad. In the 1994-1995 school year, only two students chose to study abroad for a semester. This year, however, over 50 West Chester students are currently studying all over the world, from England to New Zealand, gaining experiences that will most likely positively influence their lives and bring benefits for years to come. “Students who study abroad develop a great sense of self-reliance,” states Barry Degler, the International Student Services coordinator at West Chester.
“They really learn to handle the unusual and unexpected.” Another benefit to studying abroad, according to Daniel L. Ritchie, chancellor of the University of Denver, is that it gives students a global perspective, one that “you can’t get from books. You must spend time in a foreign country.”
Linnie Darmofal, a junior at West Chester University who has been abroad, agrees: “It makes you look at the status- quo of where youʼre living from an outsider’s perspective.” Many other students who have been abroad also agree that while it does look great on resumes and is personally beneficial, studying abroad is also a lot of fun. So, you have decided that you want to go abroad and have amazing, invaluable experiences in another part of the world, but are not sure how to go about applying to a program.
First, if you have a GPA of 2.2 or higher, you are eligible to study abroad. You do not need to speak another language and, if you find a well-planned program, you can still take a full load of courses while abroad and graduate on time. The traditional time to study abroad is the spring semester of your junior year, but in most cases, other semesters work well, too. After you pick a semester, try to save some of your general education requirements (ideally, social sciences like history, philosophy, etc.) for that semester.
General education requirements taken at other universities are easy to transfer to West Chester, but programs do exist that also have transferable major/minor requirements. Talk to your academic advisor and see if they recommend any specific programs that fit into that category.
It is also mandatory that you attend a study abroad seminar, in Room 101 of Old Library, no later than one full semester before your planned study abroad semester and, even better, a year before you plan to study abroad. The dates of the seminars for this spring are: January 26 and 27, from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. each day. February 22 and 23, from 2- 3 and 3-4 each day. March 21, 22, and 23 from 2-3 each day. Specific information on choosing a program, filling out paperwork and transferring credits will be given at these seminars.
You do not have to wait until you graduate to see the world; studying abroad is a great opportunity that everyone should try to take advantage of. Through studying abroad, you can live in a foreign country, take classes with transferable credits at a school there, and have invaluable experiences that will change your life and shape your future.