Study Abroad: as broad as it could be?

Approximately 190 undergraduate students have studied abroad this year at the St. John’s Rome campus, according to Rosanna Sanders, the Associate Director of the International Programs of Study. A question remains, however, as to whether one of the University’s most touted programs is being taken advantage of as fully as it could be.

St. John’s students have been able to study abroad since the late 1980’s, when the University began a program allowing students to study in Hungary.

“Students interested in studying abroad must go through the Study Abroad Office [in Bent Hall room 338],” Sanders said, adding that the process requires them to fill out a written application, consult with their deans to ensure that classes in the program will be appropriate for them, gain approval from the dean, write an essay, and provide two letters of recommendation.

Students must have a 2.75 GPA and be a matriculated sophomore in order to be eligible for the Study Abroad program, although Sanders added that “we can be flexible.”

Salvatore Caruso, a graduate student, was able to study in Rome this summer in a new master’s program called Global Development and Social Justice.

“There were 15 students from just about everywhere,” he said. “We went to Rome for the month of July and met the other students and professors staying at the campus. It was incredible.”

Some students, however, are unable to study abroad because the courses offered do not pertain to their areas of study.
“We could go for a semester, but the classes wouldn’t apply to our major,” said pharmacy major Jacqueline Volpe.

Classes offered at the St. John’s Rome campus include anthropology, art history, international business, international relations, Italian, and theology.

“Seniors rarely go unless they hold off taking electives until that year,” Sanders said, explaining that most of the courses offered in Rome are electives.

Students who study at the Rome campus also get the chance to visit agencies like the Council of Europe, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, the Court of Justice, and the European Parliament, in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg.

While the program in Rome is the most popular, St. John’s also offers inter-session, summer and exchange programs in a wide variety of countries such as Vietnam, France, Greece, Argentina, Brazil, Spain and West Africa.

A new program, called Discover the World, allows students to study in France, Italy, and Spain.

“It’s a unique program,” said Dr. Ruth De Paula, director of the International Programs of Study. “Students get their credits directly from St. John’s and there’s a service component. I believe that people will learn not only about other cultures, but about themselves.”

There are only 150 spots open for the Discover the World program, which begins this spring and allows students to earn 15 credits in classes such as ethics, Europe: Renaissance to Reformation, government and politics of Western Europe, city of Rome, religions of the world, French, Italian and Spanish.
To market the study abroad programs, the office has a relations manager who is in charge of creating brochures, planning information sessions and table days, placing ads in The Torch, and setting up meetings with groups such as the Greek Organizations.

“I definitely have seen an improvement [in the number of students participating],” Sanders said. “But if it were up to me, I would like to see every student study abroad.