More students should consider study abroad

Posted on February 27, 2017 by Richard Narramore
Richard Narramore

Meisler Hall data-lightbox='featured'
The office of international education is located inside Meisler Hall. - Jake Cannon

Story contributed by The Vanguard

International education is something many students do not consider, according to Holly Hudson, director of international education at the University of South Alabama.

Only 1.5 percent of USA’s students participate in study abroad programs. For a comparison, University of Alabama has 3.5 percent of UA’s students participate in study abroad.

“I feel like it is more important than ever to build relationships across borders, and going and studying abroad is a great way to prepare future generations to be leaders,” said Hudson.

Hudson said that the Office of International Education (OIE) is hoping to persuade more students to take interest in study abroad programs.

USA sent  50 to 60 students on study abroad and had one faculty-led program before Hudson became director of international education. USA now sends around 250 students to study abroad and has 11-12 faculty led programs. Faculty-led programs are study abroad classes curated by professors here at USA.

USA has a $100,000 annual scholarship fund in place for study abroad students. This is renewed every year and allows  OIE to help students who want to participate in study abroad. This money can go towards paying for a flight and other costs of travel. Students can also apply for outside scholarships that help cover study abroad expenditures.

“I think there is a perception that it is not available to everybody, or that you have to be particularly well off to do it, and so one of our jobs as international educators is to remove those barriers,” said Hudson.

All study abroad programs at USA are in-state tuition, even for students who would normally pay out-of-state tuition.

Many students hold the belief they study abroad is for language courses only; however, most of the study abroad programs at USA are not language programs. Students can take anything from hospitality in France or life science in Costa Rica.

“Everything that you look at and read about in your textbook, you get to see in person in the jungle in Costa Rica,” Hudson said.

She added that study abroad courses count toward your degree.

USA also has 11 exchange program positions. In an exchange program, a student will enroll at USA and pay tuition here, but will swap places with another student who has enrolled at one of USA’s partner universities. .

OIE also helps students find third-party study abroad programs.

“We can’t offer every course in every country, but there are programs we vet and make sure they have a good reputation,” said Hudson.

OIE holds an orientation to help prepare students for travel before they study abroad. They cover how to stay safe, rules and regulations students must follow and how to pack efficiently.

Once a student has completed study abroad, they can apply to OIE’s internship program. Interns work in the office, give classroom speeches regarding study abroad and help with study abroad fairs.

Students interested in study abroad are encouraged to stop by OIE, located in Meisler Hall 2300, They take walk-ins and advise students on finding the best program.

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