Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Study abroad programs take flight

Augustana students have the opportunity to travel the world through the college’s study abroad program.

According to Allen Bertsche, director of international and off-campus programs, between 300 and 320 students have taken advantage of this opportunity in the past three years. However, the number of student travelers looks to increase.

“If everyone accepted into the programs this time around goes, it’ll be around 360 students,” Bertsche said.

In order to study abroad, students must go through an application process. To be accepted into a program, a student must be in good academic standing (meaning they have a minimum GPA of 2.0), or, in the case of a few internship and exchange programs, a 2.5 GPA.

In the event that there are more applicants eligible for a program than what can be accepted, the applicants are put into a four-pool system, which determines acceptance by combining GPA and academic year.

According to Bertsche, most, if not all, students who desire to study abroad get the opportunity to do so, whether they’re immediately accepted into their program of choice, waitlisted and then eventually added to the program roster or decide to choose another program with more availability.

The programs all vary in length and location.

“Our shortest trips are about 10 days, and those are trips taken on breaks,” Bertsche said. “Our longest are the exchange programs. Those can last for about 15 to 30 weeks, or students even have the option to go for a full year.”

According to Augustana’s study abroad advertisements, the destinations for the 2016-2017 travel abroad trips are East Asia, Australia, Dijon, Paris, Ecuador, Nicaragua, The Alps, Berlin, India, Leipzig, Rome, Spain, Botswana, Germany, Japan, Sweden, London, Jamaica, Guatemala, Washington D.C., and Denver.

Program applications are technically closed; however, a handful of trips still have availability. According to Bertsche, study abroad updates will be sent out in the CORE Digest emails, which are sent daily to student email accounts.

“Many (program applications) will be open until the middle of March, but many go longer,” Bertsche said.

Bertsche discussed the process of choosing the right place for a student to have their study abroad adventure.

“There are a lot of goals for studying abroad. The trend, lately, seems to be students looking for programs that associate with specific fields, that give them a certain type of experience, or are specific to their major,” Bertsche said. “That almost seems to be more important than the country, in some cases.”

What can one gain from studying abroad? Well, according to Bertsche, students gain a better understanding of themselves and the culture they come from, as well as the ability to deal with ambiguity, uncertainty, confusion, and difference.

“Students are operating in a place where they don’t know everything,” Bertsche said. “As a result, they gain confidence and sense of their own ability to deal with something new. Students often return from trips saying they feel more capable.”

Overall, taking advantage of a study abroad experience is highly encouraged by Augustana faculty, staff, and administration.

“This is a unique opportunity during a student’s life in college, because there are very few people whose career will allow them to do this type of travel,” Bertsche said. “This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity for students to open themselves up to the world.”

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Study abroad programs take flight