Students learn through travel

Studying abroad provides students with opportunities to experience new cultures and visit other countries, while continuing to earn credit toward their degree.

This spring, sophomore Sam Johnson will be attending Harlaxton College in Grantham, England, which is part of the University of Evansville in Evansville, Ind.

Johnson said the study abroad program played a role in her decision to come Baker.

“It’s what made me decide to go to Baker,” she said. “I was taking a tour around campus and my tour guide mentioned the study abroad programs, in particular Harlaxton.”

Johnson said Harlaxton’s weekly schedule is one benefit of the program.

“I’m looking forward to the four-day school weeks and having three-day weekends to travel on school-sponsored trips,” she said.

She has prepared herself by filling out health forms, getting her passport, attending meetings and working with Harlaxton Program Coordinator Martha Harris, who helps students prepare for their study abroad trips.

According to Open Doors, the annual report on international education from the Institute of International Education, more than 205,983 students studied abroad in 2006, an eight percent increase from 2005.

Cindy Novelo, director of study abroad, international and disability services, said more students recognize the importance of being a global citizen as each year progresses.

“It’s important because students need to know what’s going on in other countries,” she said. “This will help them with employment. Employers want employees who have a well-rounded education.”

She said nine Baker students are currently spending the semester studying abroad to destinations including Harlaxton, China, Australia, France, Ireland and Russia. She also said 15 students are serious about studying abroad next semester. Novelo said fewer students tend to study abroad during the fall semester than the spring.

Open Doors created a list of most popular destinations to study abroad with the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France and Australia topping the list. Harlaxton is a popular choice for Baker students, as well as various European countries, such as Spain, England, France and Germany. Other countries that have raised interest are China, Italy and Costa Rica. Australia and New Zealand have increased in popularity for study abroad students at Baker in recent years as well.

Senior Jared Weseloh studied in New Zealand last spring and said he gained an appreciation of the world.

“It makes you open your eyes and realize how big the world is,” he said.

Novelo said she is excited about students sparking interest in different countries. She said even Africa has been an interest to some students, and she would like to provide more opportunities for students to visit various countries they may not have thought about.

“I’m excited to have students interested in Africa,” she said. “We are finding programs to sponsor studying abroad programs over there.”

Novelo said the cost of tuition varies from $6,500 to $20,000 depending on what country the colleges and universities are located in.

“The more expensive tuitions are from European countries, while the least expensive programs are from less popular countries, for example, Central America,” she said.

Novelo said students have several options to help pay for their study abroad trip. Students receive financial aid, but it only applies for one semester. She said certain scholarships can be used for a year and often range from $1,000 to $1,500. Private scholarships can also provide up to $5,000.

“Depending on the university where the student studies it can be less, the same or more expensive than Baker,” she said.

Novelo said students interested in studying abroad need to plan ahead and research programs about countries they are interested in, seeing which choice fits them financially.