EDITORIAL: Villanovans abroad

Editorial Board

It seems that at Villanova, most of your friends disappear sometime during junior year. They pop up on your Facebook news feed in foreign countries, and you find strange postcards in different languages in your mailbox in Kennedy. They make your housing plans for the West Campus apartments a nightmare. Then when they come back, another round leaves.

With the economy in the toilet, exchange rates skyrocketing and the general global sentiment toward America coasting on the fumes of an unpopular president, it is astonishing that both Villanova and national university trends point to increasing study abroad numbers.

The United States boasts most of the best universities and research centers in the world. Often, foreign students come to this country to get their medical degrees or their doctorates. So why are all of the Americans leaving? It seems that the emphasis on a well-rounded, globalized education is driving students in droves to the visa offices. An international comprehension is almost a requirement in our rapidly globalizing world. When applying for jobs, an anecdote from your study abroad experience (on how you learned to embrace other people and cultures, of course) can make or break that interview. However, for Villanova students in particular, there are a few drawbacks to this chance of a lifetime.

For those paying full tuition, or close to it, studying abroad is a pretty bad deal. You pay the Villanova price tag, close to $33,000, to study anywhere when most foreign universities charge less than half that price for their domestic students. Moreover, if you choose to study in Europe, you can buy about half what you can in America while you’re there. Depending on your major, the classes that you take abroad often pale in comparison to those you’d be taking back in Pennsylvania. For some students, it’s just a semester of drinking and traveling, but of course it depends on what you make of it.

While the report by the Institute of International Education says that our numbers are increasing, only about 400 students from Villanova studied abroad for a semester in ’06-’07, while more than 1,000 students did so at Boston College, our “aspirational” institution. The numbers reported rank us within schools with comparable academic programs, i.e. universities which focus more on undergraduate education. Though it may be a better comparison and the numbers make Villanova look great, the Office of International Studies reports that this number will decrease between 10 and 20 percent next semester, most likely because of the looming recession.

If you choose to leave Villanova and go abroad, you are paying for an experience; and if you or your parents are willing to foot the bill, it is just one way to expand your educational horizons.