Where is the most exotic place you’ve ever been? For many of us at Lawrence, the answer is probably something like “Milwaukee.”There’s certainly no shame in that, but it shows why international programs are such great opportunities for Lawrentians, especially those who have never traveled outside of their home countries. This last week, Lawrence has celebrated International Education Week by providing programs to help students learn about studying abroad and about the experiences of international students at Lawrence.
International Education week runs November 12-18 and is a nationwide event that was developed by Secretary of Education Richard Riley and the State Department in order to “recognize the value of gaining a broad understanding of the cultures, languages and governments of other nations.”
Lawrence is taking part in this event by holding programs throughout the week.
Associate Professor of French Lifongo Vetinde gave a presentation on study-abroad programs in Tanzania and Botswana Tuesday, Nov. 13.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday there were open advising appointments for students interested in studying abroad. There was also open advising Friday at the same times. Students are welcome to make advising appointments with Laura Zuege, the off-campus programs advisor, throughout the year.
Thursday there were presentations by international students from India, Brazil and Bulgaria and by students who have studied abroad in London, China and Costa Rica. As many of the students who have studied abroad have found, an international education offers much more than just schooling and a change of scenery.
Zuege believes that international education programs allow “students [to] grow socially, personally, intellectually and academically.” Although much can be gained from traditional academic study, Zuege feels that “research in books isn’t necessarily the best way to learn” all of the time. Zuege is a Lawrence graduate herself, and went to the London Centre in her junior year of school.
She said, quite earnestly, that “it changed my life.” As a person who had grown up in the area and had “never been on a plane that my uncle wasn’t flying” before her trip across the pond, experiencing parts of London’s urban culture — like riding on the tube and the London Underground — was daunting, but made her a more independent person.
She said proudly, “At the end of the term, I went to Prague by myself,” a bold move that her newfound independence helped her to make. An international education also offers something unique to put on your résumé.
Zuege said she feels that due to the “increasingly global market,” study abroad is attractive to many companies. Studying abroad “sets your résumé’s; apart; it demonstrates independence and shows that you are a well-rounded person,” Zuege said.
Studying abroad may give you an edge over another applicant in the job market, as well as giving you skills and knowledge that could be useful in your career.
One of the most important things about international study is that it helps us to see the world more clearly and to see our place within it. For Zuege, “[Studying abroad] made me see myself in a larger context. I don’t think I really understood what it means to be an American until I studied abroad. … It helped me to see myself as a global citizen.”
So if you are interested in broadening your scope of travel beyond the U.S. or you would like to hear about international students’ experiences here, International Education Week is a great way to get information from people who have knowledge and experience of study abroad.