By Tom Ballard
Alumni Grove seemed a little more diverse on Wednesday, Sept. 9, when the Center for Global Engagement held its annual study abroad fair. This year, students can take advantage of opportunities in cities ranging from London to Vietnam.
“We send students to all six inhabited continents, primarily… to western Europe and Australia,” Senior International Officer Jon Stauff said. “You name it, we’ve been there.”
According to Stauff, approximately 30 percent of the graduating class studied abroad in some capacity, which is slightly up from previous years.
As the College focuses on signature experiences and global experiences we have seen a rise in study abroad programs,” he said.
One of the College’s new study abroad programs comes from the School of Nursing, Health and Exercise Science.
“This is our first department specific study abroad,” said Dr. Sharon Byrne, co-chairperson of the department of nursing. “We’re embedding it into an elective course for January called ‘Nursing and Global Health.’”
The program, according to Byrne, will send students on a health mission to the area around Port-au-Prince, Haiti, during the month of January. They will work with Explorers San Frontiers, a Philadelphia-based organization that runs health missions to Haiti.
“It teaches them (how to deal with patients in a core environment). It will also benefit them not only for their nursing assessment skills and their primary care nursing skills, but also for being able to engage in some self education programs,” Byrne said. “And then, of course, getting that cultural piece of living and working in Haiti with the Haitian people at the same time.”
Any student in good standing with at least a 2.5 GPA can apply to study abroad, according to Stauff. But while any student can study abroad during a winter or summer term, Stauff recommends that students wait until their sophomore year to spend a semester abroad.
Also at the fair were independent organizations that run study abroad opportunities for students.
“I think that word is getting around on campus,” said Jane Dickson, international relations manager for the Foundation of International Education, the company that hosts the College’s London study abroad program. “The amount of students participating is really growing… every semester seems to be growing by a couple of students. “The students that I talk to always talk about developing their level of independence,” Dickson said. “You’re in an environment where things are not familiar… meeting people of different cultures you may not see on campus… it’s a way of broadening your horizons and also a way of increasing your confidence.”
Stauff shared Dickson’s view that studying abroad can increase students’ awareness.
“When you study abroad you learn a lot about your potential,” he said. “You learn a lot about yourself when you are away from home. With that information you can plot a course for your education, or your job search… I find that students who studied abroad end up in the places where they wanted to be versus students who don’t have the opportunity to leave New Jersey.”
Many students took advantage of the fair to collect information about possible study abroad options in the future.
“I love traveling and meeting new people,” freshman international studies major Gayle Mayani said.
Mayani says she would be interested in studying abroad in either Egypt, Jordan or Dubai.
“I’m taking Arabic and (studying abroad) is a requirement for my major,” Mayani said.
Students who wish to find out more information on study abroad programs can find it online at the Center for Global Engagement website, cge.tcnj.edu, or attend the weekly study abroad program that the organization hosts every Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the Social Sciences Building, room 105.