There’s a whole world to explore outside of Logan, Utah, but very few Utah State University students are taking advantage of the opportunity. According to President Noelle Cockett, only 0.2 percent of students participate in study abroad programs.
Cockett, in her November State of the University address, said that there is a push for “high-impact practices,” including study abroad experiences.
The USU Office of Global Engagement is aware of the low number and have been making changes.
The number of students who studied abroad last spring have doubled this spring, said study abroad advisor assistant Emma Wright.
The office changed their marketing strategies by creating a new application program, which made it easier for students to find and apply for programs. They also appointed Global Engagement Ambassadors to share their experiences, and had students who are currently studying abroad take over the USU Snapchat story.
Monika Galvydis, the study abroad program director, said the best recruitment is by word of mouth.
“I have a long convoluted story — everyone does. Once you study abroad, it goes into every aspect of your life. It changes it,” Galvydis said.
Galvydis said there are numerous scholarships students can receive if they are interested in a study abroad program.
Colter Christensen received over $13,000 in study abroad specific scholarships from the Gilman Scholarship and the Fund for Education Abroad.
“Getting scholarships has been incredibly important because I wouldn’t have been able to study abroad without them. Honestly, I was surprised to receive the scholarships that I did earn,” Christensen wrote in an email.
Christensen completed all of the requirements for his theatre major and is solely working on his knowledge of the Japanese language while abroad in Japan. He is able to incorporate theater into his Japanese studies.
“In one of my favorite classes this past semester, we wrote and performed 10-minute scenes entirely in Japanese. We even needed to communicate with one another in Japanese because several of my group members couldn’t speak English,” he wrote.
Christensen is one of seven Gilman Scholarship winners this past year, the most USU has seen since 2012.
Galvydis said study abroad programs can be paid for with USU scholarships, financial aid and Pell Grants.
Galvydis said sometimes airfare is the only out-of-pocket cost.
“If that’s the only cost students have, that’s amazing,” Galvydis said.
Galvydis said there are programs available for one semester, the summer or a year.
Janelle Abram, an Office of Global Engagement ambassador, studied in southern Germany for six weeks last summer. She earned credit for her German teaching degree.
Abram liked the program because it gave her an amazing experience, and it put her ahead in credits.
“It helps because you are getting USU credit and international experience, and something else to put on your resume besides four years at USU,” Abram said.
Christensen’s year long study abroad experience has delayed his graduation date.
“I don’t mind because the experiences are going to help me with my career after graduating. My goals attending USU are far beyond simply receiving a diploma. I have been making valuable connections while abroad that will hopefully help me to jump start my career,” Christensen stated via email.
Galvydis said that even though numbers are starting to increase, they will keep pushing for more USU students to go abroad.
“We still want more to go,” Galvydis said. “0.2 percent isn’t enough. We want as many students as we can get.”