Almost 95 percent of the student body is not taking part in SRU’s international study program according to Pamela Frigot, the director of International Services.
Frigot said studying abroad is something that students should not overlook.
“Studying abroad is huge in terms of personal and academic growth for students,” Frigot said. “It really opens their eyes to possibilities and empowers them to accomplish more.”
Tess Crispin, the advisor for international and study abroad students, agreed that there is much to gain from studying abroad.
“I was very shy before I went abroad, and I’m a lot more outgoing now,” Crispin said. “When you’re in a situation where you’re on your own, you learn a lot about yourself.”
Studying abroad is becoming progressively easier to take part in with the increasing inter-connectivity of the world and SRU, like most universities, has a multitude of options available to its students. Yet out of an estimated 8,000 students enrolled at SRU, only about 450 participate in overseas studies each year. The target number being 10 times that amount.
The pending relationship between SRU and universities in Vietnam then begs the question of whether or not the opportunities created will be utilized by SRU students.
As it stands, the students who do participate do so in a multitude of ways, including spring break trips, summer classes, semesters or entire years studying abroad, and opportunities for further development such as internships, practicums and research groups. These take place in numerous countries, the two most popular being Australia and Ireland.
As the pending partnership with Vietnamese universities potentially opens another international study opportunity to students at SRU, it remains to be seen if students will begin to take advantage of the programs already offered, despite the availability and the investment students have in them.
Often, having studied abroad makes a student more employable, Frigot explained. Employers are very interested in a student’s ability to get along and connect with diverse groups of people and also the student’s desire to do something beyond the status quo.
A majority of international study programs don’t require students to be proficient in a second language, take place during breaks and are typically the cheapest way for students to travel, Frigot said. Certain programs are associated with certain classes and some opportunities may require specific qualifications, but liberal arts classes, at the very least, are an option open to every student in good academic standing and are easy to arrange internationally, Frigot explained.
International study should be something each student is aware of, since they are in part paying for it. Part of the academic enhancement fee that each student pays upon entering SRU goes into travel grants as part of the multitude of financial aid offered to students studying internationally.