UW-Eau Claire’s global classroom, made possible through study abroad

The Center for International Education offers a wide variety of study abroad programs for UWEC students

More stories from Alanna Huggett

Pura Vida
May 15, 2019

Photo by Sam Farley

Stephanie Hoeksema helped dish out ice cream and information to students interested in the opportunity to study abroad, a program that is popular for many UW-Eau Claire Students.

College is a time for students to explore their passions and interests. For some UW- Eau Claire students, this means studying abroad. The Center for International Education located in Schofield Hall provides students with resources and assistance to make plans for study abroad.

On Sept. 7, the CIE gave students the scoop about studying abroad at their ice cream social outside Davies Student Center. Curious minds could chat with other interested or seasoned study abroad students. Stephanie Hoeksema – a third-year elementary education, Spanish and Teaching English as a Foreign Language student and general advising intern at the CIE – was one of those in attendance.

Hoeksema studied abroad in Valladolid, Spain. She said the experience was enriching, as she had the opportunity to meet new people and improve her Spanish language skills. Hoeksema also said that while studying abroad was a requirement for her Spanish major, it gave her valuable and applicable career and life skills.

“I just benefited so much from my experience and I want to just keep it going and that’s why I have this job to just tell people more about study abroad – try to encourage them because it benefited me so much, so yeah I would just say like I literally recommend that everyone studies abroad because it’s such an enriching experience,” Hoeksema said.

UW-Eau Claire’s CIE has a wide variety of different programs to fit the needs and interests of many students. They have programs that go for as little as two weeks to as long as a full academic year. Students can study pretty much anywhere that interests them – Asia, Central America, Europe, Africa, Oceania and South America are just a few options.

The CIE offers programs with different housing options as well – giving students the option to stay with a host family, live in an apartment or in a residence hall. There are programs for fall semester, spring semester, the academic year and calendar year. Shorter programs are typically offered during the winterim and summer sessions.

Colleen Marchwick – the director of the CIE – said that at UW-Eau Claire, one in four students have had a study abroad experience by the time they graduate, based off the most recent statistics. In terms of percentages, that’s 23 percent of a graduating class at UW-Eau Claire Marchwick said. Also, according to an article on the UW-Eau Claire website, UW- Eau Claire ranked 28th nationally in the number of students it sends abroad with 473 students studying abroad in 2017.

Nathan Anderson, a second-year nursing and Spanish student, was one of many students interested in studying abroad. Anderson said he’d possibly like to study in Costa Rica and witness the culture of the country while improving his Spanish comprehension.

In order to maintain and grow student interest in studying abroad, Marchwick said that the CIE is looking to add more experience-based programs.

Experience-based programs would include internships and service learning programs such as Glasgow, Scotland (service-learning opportunities), Accra, Ghana (internship opportunities) and Chiang Mai, Thailand (service-learning opportunities) as well as many others.

Financial aid is an important factor for students planning to study abroad. Marchwick said, based off the 2016-2017 statistics, 45 percent of all UW-Eau Claire students that study abroad will use some sort of financial aid.

Financial aid helps students cover the difference between the tuition of the international university they are visiting and the cost of UW-Eau Claire tuition. There are several sources of financial aid available to UW-Eau Claire students including department and college scholarships, grants and external scholarships. Within the UW-Eau Claire scholarships for study abroad, there are need-based and non-need based scholarships students may apply for.

For students curious about the first steps necessary to jump start their study abroad experience, Marchwick said she recommends attending an information session and coming prepared with a general list of study abroad goals. According to a pamphlet produced by the CIE, students should think about academic, personal and professional goals when deciding whether or not to participate in the program.

Marchwick also suggests students to talk with their academic advisor. Academic advisors can help students figure out what classes to take while abroad as well as the time to go, Marchwick said.

There are several upcoming study abroad events for students to check out. The Study Abroad Fair on Oct. 10 and International Education Week – which goes from Nov. 12 through 16 – are two events students can attend to learn about the different programs and opportunities available. The CIE also offers information and peer advising sessions for interested students.

Studying abroad as an undergraduate student is one of the best times to go, according to Marchwick. It’s an opportunity for students to study and travel abroad before entering their professional careers.

“I would just tell students really to take advantage of this unique opportunity in their life to go abroad for an extended period of time,” Marchwick said. “because it’s unlikely that you will be able to do it in your future.”

Huggett can be reached at [email protected]