Students interested in studying abroad may attend various informational events scheduled for International Education Week, which began on Monday, Sept. 17, and ends Saturday, Sept. 22, to coincide with Family Weekend.
According to Dr. Jose Sainz, director of the university’s Center for International Education (CIE) and associate professor of Spanish, the CIE organizes this week of events once each academic year in correspondence with the national celebration of International Education Week, a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of State, to promote the benefits of education abroad.
“This week is to make the campus and student body aware of possibilities for education abroad, internships abroad, and volunteering abroad,” said Sainz.
Students exploring the option of studying abroad are encouraged to attend all planned events for week, but particularly the Education Abroad Fair on Friday, Sept. 21; interested students and their families have the chance to see all the options available for studying abroad, from faculty-led programs, third-party study abroad partners, study abroad alumni and CIE staff members.
“Students have many concerns about studying abroad involving academics, in terms of how their courses will transfer to Mary Washington. The cost of studying abroad is another,” said Sainz. “This week provides showcases and financial aid sessions for students with those concerns to see that pursuing an education abroad is not a distant reach for them.”
According to Sainz and CIE’s statistics, approximately 300 students from the university do some kind of study abroad program during each academic year. The spring semester is the most popular time for students to participate in a study abroad program.
Sainz considers studying abroad “the thing to do” in order to gain “a different perspective on world issues, global cultures, different points of views, and even lets us reflect on our own culture.”
Students who previously studied abroad are also encouraged to attend the week’s events and provide their advice and first-hand experiences on what it is like to study in another country.
Senior English and Spanish double major, Jennifer Crystle, planned to study abroad in college after travelling during high school. She studied abroad in Bilbao, Spain during her junior year as part of a service learning program where she volunteered at a low income school and stayed with a host family.
“That was the highlight of my college career,” said Crystle. “Working with the children was really eye-opening for me. It really allowed me to grow as a person, both academically and personally. Any chance to interact with the people who lived there was always great.”
When asked to provide any advice and extra comments for students considering studying abroad, Crystle responded, “After studying abroad, you leave a different person. Students interested in studying abroad in general shouldn’t be afraid of taking advantage of the opportunities available. In the end, it will be worth it.”