Studying abroad at UW-Eau Claire

Learn all about UW-Eau Claire’s study abroad program and exciting opportunities for students

Sami Geiger

More stories from Sami Geiger

Studying abroad at UW-Eau Claire


Due to COVID-19, study abroad programs for the 2019-2020 academic year have been put to a halt.

UW-Eau Claire is regularly ranked as a leader for studying abroad in the United States and Wisconsin for a masters-level institution Colleen Marchwick, the director of the Center for International Education (CIE), said.

The last academic year not impacted by COVID-19 was 2018-2019. During the year, a total of 517 students went abroad, Marchwick said.

Marchwick said she studied abroad in France during her college career. She spent an entire academic year there.

“My favorite part was it forced me to get out of my comfort zone and not rely on other people,” Marchwick said

Study abroad allows students to travel to a different country and experience life like no other. It gives students new opportunities and perspective. It opens students up to experience a new culture(s) Marchwick said. Along with new experiences, it also allows students to step out of their comfort zone.

“It’s a cheap way to see a country for four months to a year,” Sarah Garibaldi, a third-year elementary education student, said.

Garibaldi went abroad to Lismore, Australia for the spring 2020 term but was sent home weeks after arriving because of COVID-19. Garibaldi said some of her favorite experiences abroad were going to bars and the atmosphere in general. 

The best thing was everyone down there loves Americans, she said.

Studying abroad isn’t limited to a certain student level or major, Marchwick said. The most common student levels for study abroad are second, third and fourth-year students.

“I had to study abroad as a requirement for my major, but I would have gone anyway,” Kelly McNamer, a third-year Spanish and speech therapy student, said. “I wanted to see the world and experience life without my closest friends and family.”

McNamer studied abroad during the spring 2020 term in Valladolid, Spain, she said.

UW-Eau Claire offers various study abroad programs for students. The top six destinations are the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Costa Rica, Australia and India.

“I had been to Spain before and loved it, which made returning very appealing,” Tate Williams, a third-year political science and Spanish student, said.

Williams went abroad the spring 2020 term to Valladolid, Spain. He was also sent home in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Williams said he recommended future participants pack light and save up to buy clothes to fit the weather of their chosen study abroad location.

UW-Eau Claire’s study abroad programs are quite popular during the spring and summer terms, Marchwick said.

Marchwick said the most common worry students have when thinking about going abroad is if the program will fit into their schedule or if their major will allow them to.

“The biggest thing students should do is talk to someone, whether it be their academic advisor or someone in the CIE,” Marchwick said.

Nolan Buss, a third-year marketing analytics and Spanish student, went abroad in spring 2020 to Valparaiso, Chile. 

“My advice to a student who will be studying abroad is to use your time wisely,” Buss said. “Students like us often get caught up in the credit amount they are taking, but if you take too much you will not be able to do well academically and travel at the same time. Remember why you are there.”

Geiger can be reached at [email protected].