What is student life like in Lyon? How are classes taught in Stellenbosch? Wouldn’t it be cool to be the first in your family to visit Kazakhstan? Students enrolled in Portland State’s Education Abroad program can answer these and many other questions about the world beyond the Willamette (and I’m not talking Estacada!).
According to PSU Education Abroad Senior Adviser Alyse Collins, the program—a part of the PSU Office of International Affairs—helps students in several ways. Students gain academic credit and different perspectives on their disciplines. They also explore the ways their peers learn in other countries.
“[Students] are able to explore and experience how different cultures see identity, race, diversity and the current political situation and what’s happening with the election,” Collins said. “It’s the beginning for a lot of people of a lifelong adventure.”
Emma Frantz, a peer adviser who recently returned from France, agrees. “During my study abroad experience, I learned so much about the world and how many different ways of life there are,” she said. “I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and learned from as many experiences as I could take. This opened my eyes to not only accept others, but to understand other cultures.”
Anna Conner, another peer adviser who recently returned from England added, “The challenges presented to students while studying abroad teach them to be flexible and adaptable, and to view the world from a different perspective than they might have done in the past.” Conner also pointed out the practical importance of a study abroad experience. “Future employers and graduate school admissions committees look very highly on international experience because it shows that a student can be successful in varying environments and can rise up to meet obstacles and overcome them in a positive way.”
Collins said entry into a program depends entirely upon the program itself. “Each program has its own process, however, what students typically do is—the first step for most students—is coming to Ed Abroad 101,” an informational session led by peer advisers. In these 30–45-minute sessions advisers cover the basics
of the program, like cost, budget and the application itself.
Peer advisers are in place to help students with the application process, which can be time and labor intensive. Peer advisers and the EA staff assist with tasks including visa and travel documentation to understanding entry requirements, the peer advisers and are available to assist students.
“It took a lot of research and dedication to find the right program for me,” Frantz said. “The staff at [the EA] office helped me and that made it easier.”
Conner also added, “To any students looking to study abroad in the near future, I would say do it! Come in and see us! We are happy to answer all your questions and to help you move forward in planning your future international adventures!”
The EA department will host several campus events during the upcoming International Education Week, Nov. 14–18. For a calendar of events, visit pdx.edu/ed-abroad/international-education-week-iew.