College with a view: Students take their study overseas

Laura Christopher

Imagine sipping an espresso in a piazza, or tasting a crepe by the Seine, or perhaps reading a book with a view of the Pyramids in the background. Now, imagine experiencing all this while receiving course credits. Villanova’s study abroad program provides this opportunity and the aid to seize it.

With technology growing at such a rapid rate and the continuous growth of the United States’ multicultural society, the world isn’t as far-reaching and vast as it used to be. In today’s ever shrinking business world, where even the smallest businesses are dealing and trading overseas, it has never been more important to be a well-rounded, culturally proficient employee. Villanova recognizes the need for broadening a student’s cultural boundaries, with the Office of International Studies in charge of this task and encourage students to take advantage of this chance of a lifetime.

“There are two reasons why studying abroad is beneficial to a student,” Lance M. Kenney, director of international studies and overseas programs, said.

“There’s the idealistic reason and the practical reason. First, on the idealistic, it promotes a student’s self development, exposes students to other cultures and increases global competence. On the practical side, it expands specific domain knowledge in a field of study and develops cognitive skills.”

Through the OIS, a student can spend a semester or a year abroad, participate in an area studies concentration or even partake in an international summer program.

There are programs in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and Australia. The OIS actively ensure a diversity in countries and types of studies and provides a choice of full-time study, full-time internship plus study and full-time service learning/ fieldwork plus study.

Each of these programs has different requirements, as well as varying requirements among individual areas of study.

“There is a lot of hard work involved, but it is so rewarding that you can’t wait to get started everyday,” one senior, who has studied abroad said. “It was an experience everyone should have.”

Interested and wondering where to begin? The first step is to go to the Office of International Studies as soon as possible. The staff helps to plan out courses, advise on the best course of action for each individual and coordinates future procedures. They deal with each student separately to guarantee a beneficial experience.

A student, however, has to meet a certain criteria in order to be eligible for the program. The student must be attending Villanova full-time, and must be in their second or third year of study.

Students must have a grade point average of 2.75 or better in any undergraduate major discipline.

Transfer students must have finished three full semesters at Villanova. Also, students with probationary status aren’t eligible. Once a student meets all criteria set forth by the OIS they must participate in an interview.

With the United States’ ongoing efforts in Iraq, the horror of Sept. 11 still vividly remembered and the world’s social climate being what it is, many people still wonder if it is safe to study overseas.

“I have no more reason to believe a student is any less safe then they are here,” Kenney said.

There was a concern after Sept. 11 that interest in the study abroad programs would decline, due to apprehension of the safety out of the United States.

Nonetheless, there has been a steady increase of 30-35 percent of students participating in international study programs.

The OIS carefully considers and monitors which countries are suitable for Villanova’s international study programs, following the state departments travel advisory bulletins.

Its strong commitment to its students and programs around the world follows the department’s mission that “enhances and strengthens the university’s commitment to diversity, intellectual growth and global perspective.”