Portland State’s Education Abroad office, works with a variety of international programs available as opportunities for students to study and travel around the world.
“Go. Seriously, go. Stop waiting. Stop thinking. And go,” stated Eric Earle as he provided information to students considering to study abroad. Earle is an undergraduate at PSU and a peer adviser in PSU’s Education Abroad office.
The education abroad programs are available to undergraduate, post-baccalaureate and graduate students. Students have the option to enroll in any abroad program for as little as a quarter, semester or whole academic year. As well as an alternative option to enroll in a short-term, faculty-led program. Every program listed on their website is approved for PSU credit. The Education Abroad office has around 200 programs to choose from to suit a variety of schedules.
Before a student applies for any abroad program there are six steps to follow to begin the process.
The Vanguard sat down with Aylse Collins, PSU’s assistant director of the Education Abroad office and Jamie Weisman an undergraduate peer adviser to shed some light on the process.
Step 1: A student must attend an EdAbroad 101 session.
Sarah Mustafa: Are these sessions long and what can a student gain from attending?
Alyse Collins: Everyday throughout each quarter we have a scheduled time for an abroad 101 sessions that are at the most 30 to 40 mins long. Our peer advisers lead the abroad 101 sessions. Essentially it’s a really great time for the students to come into our office and meet with a peer adviser and get the whole ‘okay this is how you do it’ when it comes to traveling abroad. This time is great if a student has any questions with choosing a program, navigating through our website and all that, you can find all that out there.
Step 2: If you haven’t already, create an ODIN login.
Step 3: Schedule a meeting with a Peer adviser to gain in depth information on what a student could potentially study while abroad.
SM: What advice do you give as an adviser?
Jamie Weismen: We are always happy to work and encourage students to realize that it isn’t impossible for them to do what I did [study abroad]. Everything from helping students chose a program [to] explain[ing] the options they have for places to go.
Step 4: Meet with an Academic Adviser, specific to your major.
SM: Can all majors study abroad or only specific ones?
AC: No, a lot of programs are pretty open. Some programs [like] University Studies Abroad Consortium] offer courses like anthropology, art history, European studies, film studies, history or humanity. Say you’re an engineer major, you might still be able to do a program for credit as long as you needed electives or something. Several programs are very specific, like a lot of our faculty run programs are wrapped around discipline and they are usually looking for people in environmental studies or business. So it really just depends on the program of choice.
JW: When I was abroad I did my senior capstone. The process is done through PSU and is called ‘Reporting LIVE.’ You’re basically paired with a Portland middle school and blog with them live for 10 weeks. [It’s like you’re] a reporter, that creates a blog about what you’re doing and where you’re going.
Step 5: Schedule an appointment with your Education Abroad Adviser (students can get guidance on payment options).
SM: Since payment is the most intimidating thing for students, what are the payment options like?
AC: Students can use any of their FAFSA. If they get Pell grants, student loans, parent plus loans or get an opportunity grant, and use a number of those as options for funding. They can also apply for outside scholarships on our website; we have a big list of scholarships that are available to students and are only designated for study abroad. You must be a study abroad student to get any of these scholarships. Students can also apply to PSU scholarships that [the school] recommends and some of those may transfer to the study abroad program. And what’s interesting is you’re only competing with other PSU students that are actually doing this.
JW: I always tell students during the 101 it depends where you go to study because some countries are cheaper than others. For me for instance, going abroad for an entire year was way cheaper than going to PSU for a year because I’m an out of state student. Which gave me the chance to travel a lot and I saved more money going abroad! I’ve been to 23 countries from taking a chance on this experience.
Step 6: Apply online via Vikings Abroad to start your potential journey ahead.
SM: When applying through the Vikings Abroad website, is it a long and complicated process?
JW: It’s really easy to apply now with the Vikings Abroad website…The main requirements is making sure your GPA meets where ever you want to go and making sure you can fund it, and doing the application. And if needed you can come in and get some help from an adviser here. It can be scary for some people but it’s easy once you get it going and get through the paperwork.
SM: Any last words of encouragement?
JW: This is going to sound like a cliché, but traveling abroad has seriously changed my life. I met so many amazing people through studying abroad. As well as kept so many contacts all around the world. It changed my career thinking and now I want to live and work internationally. And I wouldn’t have known that until I studied abroad.
AC: Students have to care and have to want it. You have to be actively participating in the process, because it does take a lot of effort. If a student is really interested and wants to put forth that effort, we will do whatever we can to help make it possible. This opportunity is accessible for any and every student here at PSU!