Students broaden horizons

Alma Aliaj

England, Spain, Australia, Uganda, China … when it comes to study abroad programs, the choices are endless. There is an infinite amount of knowledge and experience to gain, but where does one begin the search? How do you decide which country is right for you, which program will suit your academic needs or whether your bank account can handle the financial blow? Maybe the following information will give you a helpful place to start your search.

Lance Kenney, director of the Office of International Studies, spoke to The Villanovan about recent trends in study abroad and discussed the various options students have when pursuing study in a foreign country.

According to recent studies, the most popular choices for study abroad have stayed relatively consistent for the past five years. England ranks first on the list, followed by Ireland, Italy, Spain and Australia. Although France and Germany have followed closely in recent years, this year it was a surprise to discover that more and more students are choosing to pursue study abroad in China.

England’s popularity comes as no surprise. With London at its heart, England is a huge draw for students from all countries. London is a multicultural city, and the opportunities for jobs and internships are also ripe.

However, it’s interesting to note that most Villanovans in study abroad programs study in non-English-speaking countries. In an increasingly global world, students are jumping at the chance to fully immerse themselves in a foreign culture, and they are willing to accept the challenges that come with living and studying in a country where English isn’t the primary language.

Kenney said that this year was a successful one for study abroad programs at Villanova. There were a record number of engineers studying abroad this year, and Kenney is especially proud of these numbers.

“We’ve developed a program that works closely with the engineers,” he said. “Because they have a curriculum that’s a bit more defined, it can often be hard to find programs and classes that fulfill their requirements, but by sitting down with them and going over their specific needs, we’ve been able to find great placements for them.”

Nursing students are also choosing to venture out of the country, especially in their sophomore year, as there is a full sophomore-year program specifically designed for them.

A third of students on campus last year studied abroad, and Villanova is ranked No. 4 in the nation among all masters’ universities for the number of students sent abroad.

Cost is a significant factor in the decision to study abroad. The cost of study abroad for a semester is comparable to the cost of a semester at Villanova.

The Office of International Studies has a tuition policy that allows everyone to pay the cost of Villanova tuition, no matter where they go. All financial aid is transferable, which means that any grants, scholarships or loans will be applicable to the cost of a study abroad program. In the end, a student will receive two bills: one from Villanova University for the cost of tuition and one from the host institute for the cost of room and board.

Every student hoping to study abroad must ask themselves one question: What am I hoping to get out of this experience?

Study abroad gives students a chance to learn about the world through experience. The programs foster independence and an open mind and encourage students everywhere to leave their college bubble and see life through the eyes of another culture. In today’s day and age, however, study abroad has taken on a more profound meaning.

“We live in a global community – one in which all citizens of the world are connected,” Kenny said. “It’s important to let people in the world see what Americans are truly about, and there is no better way to do that than through sending our students abroad.”

Study abroad not only builds skill development and pumps up a resumé, but it provides a window into a previously unknown dimension of the world.

Senior Casey Dolan spent seven weeks in London this summer in the Villanova program at the London School of Economics. She took two courses, each about three weeks long and lived in a house with about 40 other Villanova students.

“I had an amazing experience in London because it is such an international city with people from all different backgrounds,” Dolan said. “It is also very easy to travel from, and I was able to visit both Spain and Scotland.”

When asked about the value of her experience, Dolan stressed the importance of study abroad.

“I would encourage every student to study abroad for a semester or a summer,” she said. “Just immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture will give you invaluable lessons that you wouldn’t typically learn in the classroom.”

There is a world of information when it comes to study abroad, and the Office of International Studies is the best place to get a plan together. For students worried about study abroad getting in the way of your graduation requirements, each program guarantees to meet a student’s needs and allows them to graduate on time.

The Office of International Studies offers information session twice a day, four days a week at Middleton Hall. Each session lasts approximately 45 minutes.

Once students go through an information session, they consider application deadlines, which are the mid-semester breaks. After the initial application process, students then begin an individual advising process that thoroughly prepares them for their program.

More than ever, Villanova has enabled students to design their own programs and have the greatest amount of flexibility.