“Go Global!” This is a very familiar slogan to those who are attending St. John’s University. However, many students believe the study abroad programs offered by The Office of Global Studies exceed their financial capabilities.
Mark Eckman, assistant director of the Office of Global Studies, says that their goal is to make the programs available to a greater amount of students, especially by focusing on three major aspects: curriculum, cost, and culture.
To assist with the curriculum and personal interests, students are presented with many destinations and a wide variety of courses. Semester programs allow students to spend 4 months abroad while completing their regular course work. The program is based on a traditional campus, either in Paris or Rome.
Discover the World is a semester long program and one of the more popular choices for interested students. It allows students to experience more than one destination by spending five weeks in three different countries. Several types of exchange programs are available with many locations and courses to accommodate the students’ interests.
Students can also choose a winter or summer intercession program. They are faculty based and are not set on a traditional campus, but rather take place in remote locations, such as the Galapagos Island, India, or Egypt with courses specializing in biology, mass communications, or Arabic. Since they are faculty based they are usually designed to accommodate certain majors.
The cost of the semester program is a normal St. John’s tuition in addition to a program fee. For the summer and winter intercessions, students are charged for a credit. Therefore they are able to spend a semester abroad with a similar cost to spending a semester in New York. To assist with financial needs the Office of Global Studies is offering financial aid through several scholarships.
Ali Kaminski is one of the recipients of the Italian Cultural Scholarship.
“It allowed me to stress less and enjoy my time abroad more,” said Kaminski. “I would recommend everyone to apply for scholarships. If there is a possibility to make your dream come true and make it more affordable, why not try?”
Last year, the Office of Global Studies issued over $250,000 in scholarships.
Eckman admits that the culture shock is very strong for students who study abroad.
“The cultural aspect seems to be the hardest one to deal with,” said Eckman. “Students are not always sure if they feel comfortable to go abroad.”
Students who went abroad seem to share this opinion.
“I was out of my comfort zone first, but then I adjusted and I learned how to be responsible and how to take care of myself,” said Maria Pavese, who spent last Spring Semester studying in Paris.
However in the end, student experiences are usually very positive.
“Not only did I learn so much about Europe, but also a lot about myself. I grew in so many ways that I could have not even imagined. I feel much better rounded,” said Mikayla Butters, who participated in the Discover the World Program.
“I believe that studying abroad gives greater sense of independence and a broader world view. You will develop skills and abilities you didn’t know you had or were relevant to you. Like patience – you can’t help but learn it when you try to converse with people who speak a different language,” said Eckman. “You gain the ability to understand that things that are different are not inherently bad.”
A number of study abroad attendees seem to confirm his positive opinions. In 2006-2007 alone, 150 students went abroad; in 2009-2010, 700 students decided to take the plunge.
Study abroad applications are available online. To be eligible, students must complete a full year in college, have a 2.75 GPA, and be in good judicial standing. To learn more about studying abroad students can also visit St. John’s Gobal Studies Web site.