International Studies Office offers weekly focus sessions

Katie DiPerna

It’s a long hike across campus to Middleton Hall where the International Studies Office is located – especially for students who only want to ask a few questions or receive information on the University’s various study abroad programs.

As a result, the office is bringing information about their programs to the center of campus.

Each Friday throughout the spring semester, representatives from the International Studies Office will be available at tables in the Connelly Center from noon until 2 p.m. to provide a basic understanding of the study abroad programs, answer questions and help students begin the process of going overseas.

Former students will also be on hand to describe their experiences out of the country and offer support and encouragement.

There is a specific focus on a certain program or country every week. This week’s focus asks, “where will you be this summer?” and emphasizes summer sessions abroad.

Future weeks will highlight common study abroad programs in Italy, Spain, England and France, as well as other non-traditional locations that students may not realize are options.

“Students might think that they cannot study overseas because of a certain situation,” said Levi Brautigan, overseas study coordinator.

“Most times this is not the case, and we hope these Friday afternoon information sessions will be a first point of contact,” he said.

Lance Kenney, Director of International Studies, said that he is excited that his office finally has the manpower to have more of a presence on campus; the office hired two new people this year. Thus, it has more resources available to carry out programs such as this Friday initiative.

Kenney described the information tables on Fridays as “important for students.”

He continued, “They are not labor intensive,” he said.

“Regardless of your year, your college, or your major, we just think that it is important for students to know that we exist and that we are happy to talk to anyone.”

International Studies Office statistics say about 27 percent of last year’s graduating seniors studied abroad, about twice the national average.

Once seen only as a way to boost a resume, experiences abroad are now becoming a vital part of a well-rounded education.

“There is no way to escape the fact that we are a global world,” said Kenney, “For students to be a part of that world, they need to get out there and live and experience it.”

Junior Ralph Bernardo spent six weeks in Italy last summer. “To study abroad was the greatest decision I’ve made at Villanova. After talking to a few students and reading a few brochures, I had the information I needed. It’s definitely an opportunity not to be missed,” he said.