One large factor in why students choose to go to Gustavus is its mass of varying study away opportunities. Studying away gives students skills, knowledge and new perspectives that they wouldn’t be able to achieve on campus. Gustavus has programs all over the world for varying lengths, with different levels of guidance and for a wide range of costs. Because of this, it is not only important for students who study abroad to achieve their desired goals and get the most out of their time here but also to choose the right program for them.
Programs are not one size fits all and Gustavus has plenty of programs to choose from and enables students to find programs that best fit their goals and interests.
When searching for a study away program, one of the first steps is to determine the length of the trip. Gustavus has programs for J-Term, a semester, a year or for the summer. Students also have to consider the country they want to go to, the languages they speak or are studying, the course credits they need, the housing situation they will have abroad, the design of the program and the cost. A common misconception is that the longer the program the more expensive it’ll be but in reality, the longer programs such as a year or a semester tend to cost considerably less than a J-Term. To help guide students through this process and to help them find the best program to meet their needs, CICE employs student interns. One of these interns is Kirsten Jensen. Kirsten is a Senior majoring in International Management and minoring in Scandinavian Studies. She has been on three very different study away programs during her time at Gustavus. Her first year at Gustavus, she did the Olympic Quest J-Term to Scandinavia. Her sophomore year she spent a semester in Ireland at The Quinn School of Business at the University College in Dublin, Ireland. Her junior year, she spent a semester in Sweden with the Sweden Today program. All of these programs vary in length, curriculum and overall design. The Olympic Quest J-Term, like all J-Terms is a faculty led program with guidance from the Gustavus faculty on the trip. The semester in Dublin was a direct enrollment program, much like an exchange program, meaning that Jensen was on her own in Dublin with her only help being online or through her college in Dublin. The Sweden Today program is a semester-long program with lots of personal freedoms but is faculty led. The Gustavus faculty member travels with you, helps you with scheduling classes, events, and any other needs you might have along the way.
In choosing each of these programs, Jensen had a lot to consider. Some of the points that were the most important to her were the cost, the living situations, her personal travel aspirations and the special courses that she could take abroad that would give her new perspectives, as well as experiences that she wouldn’t be able to get at Gustavus.
Gustavus can easily become a bubble with all of students’ friends, classes, work and extracurriculars right here and they often have little need to expand their horizons past the hill on a regular basis.
Studying away gives students the opportunity to expand their horizons in ways often not otherwise available to them. This gives them the opportunity to learn about different people, places, cultures and cultural differences that will give them the ability to understand, communicate and empathize with a wider range of people. These better communication skills also lead to a new level of independence and self- confidence. Jensen phrased it best when she said studying abroad helped her become, “A very independent, strong- willed, young woman”. These are the skills and the confidence that employers are looking for and the skills that students will need to be successful adults in their personal lives as well.
Choosing to study away is an overwhelming and even frightening decision but one that clearly pays off. Taking the time to determine the best program with the help from CICE will give students the chance to make the most of their four years here and their time abroad.