If you have thought about studying abroad, you are not alone. Besides the obviously enticing aspects of a semester abroad, international experience can be essential to a student’s future success. Globalization is now an undeniable force and is affecting almost every aspect of university life for students in the United States. Students can study international relations, take a class alongside a foreign exchange student, or study abroad themselves.
A poll conducted by the American Council on Education shows that as many as fifty percent of students enrolled in an American university want to study abroad. With the impact of an increasingly globalized world, any form of international experience will give students an edge and could open up many opportunities for a student. Yet, according to statistics from NAFSA, less than 1% of students enrolled in a university in Arizona studied abroad in the 2014-2015 school year.
Statistics from the Center for International Education at Northern Arizona University show that 568 students studied abroad during the 2013/2014 school year. So what gives? While studying abroad is expensive; between meals, tuition, fees, books, flights, and the cost of being able to drink legally, students may not be able to afford it. And while there are scholarships available, studying abroad is not an option for every student. For students at NAU, studying abroad is a great way to get international experience, but there are other ways to get a globalized edge.
Every semester at NAU, hundreds of international students arrive to study on exchange, whether it is for a year or a semester. By signing up to volunteer for international orientation through the CIE, you could meet foreign exchange students, learn more about other cultures, and get more international experience to put on your resume. Getting to know foreign exchange students is a great way to learn about other cultures and become more aware of global issues.
Additionally, the International Pavilion provides plenty of opportunity to learn more about other cultures for both international and NAU students alike, such as cultural events and movie nights. On Mondays from 5-6 pm, Coffee Hour is held for students on exchange, interested in an exchange program, or students who have already studied abroad.
Another option for getting an international edge is learning a foreign language. Many opportunities are opening up exclusively for bilingual or multilingual applicants, so learning a language can give you an edge in a future job search. At NAU, there are classes offered in eight languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Navajo and Japanese. There are also opportunities available to students studying a language, such as the Language Learning Center for workingon your language skills, and events to get more cultural experiences than in the classroom.
If you are still interested in studying abroad, there are many ways to do so. Look into the Interdisciplinary Global Programs if you have yet to declare a major. This program offers a five-year double-degree program for students in a STEM major, through which they will concurrently learn a language. During their fourth year, students are able to study abroad in their choice of one of nine countries, including Argentina, Japan, Mexico, China, Germany, Chile, Spain, France, or Costa Rica. There are also majors rooted in international experiences, such as International Affairs, Political Sciences, and any of the language degree programs.
Scholarships can make studying abroad a viable option. There are many scholarships for exchange available through NAU and outside providers. The Center for International Education offers plenty of study abroad information sessions for more detailed explanations of how to go abroad. If you are interested in an exchange program, there are two types offered at NAU: Bilateral and ISEP. A bilateral exchange involves paying costs such as housing and meals to the exchange school whereas ISEP costs are paid to NAU. To apply for a program or scholarship, head over to the Center for International Education website.
College-Bound Students’ Interests in Study Abroad and Other International Learning Activities. American Council on Education, 2008.
Study Abroad Participation by State, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, 2014-2015.