By Hannah Kebede
Elm Staff Writer
With over 30 different programs in over 20 different countries to choose from, WC students have many unique and exciting opportunities to study abroad and broaden their horizons.
“Students not only learn about another culture, but they learn about themselves and their own cultural identity,” said Kate McCleary, director of the Office of International Programs. “Academically, students are introduced to new ways of teaching, thinking, and approaching subject material. Their learning takes place both inside and outside the classroom as figuring out how to navigate the bus system in Buenos Aires, Argentina or joining the hiking club in Cork, Ireland are typically totally new experiences to Washington College students who opt to study abroad.”
Ireland is one of the most popular countries in which WC students select to spend a semester or a full school year studying abroad. Others are England, Australia and South Africa, where classes are taught in English. France and Spain are also WC favorites, where students perfect their French and Spanish language skills.
There are also faculty-led programs where students can spend a summer or winter in places like China, Bermuda or Tanzania, learning with a group of fellow WC students from a WC professor about archeology, ecology or international development.
There are five kinds of study abroad programs. There are the faculty-led summer and winter programs as well as the four kinds of semester or year-long programs; full exchange, room/tuition exchange, Tuition Exchange and the joint program with Rhodes University in South Africa.
In the full exchange and joint programs students continue to pay tuition, room and board to WC. In the room/tuition exchange, students pay board to their host institutions while in the tuition exchange, students pay both room and board to their host. All students studying abroad must also pay an off-campus study fee to WC.
As stated on its webpage on the College website, the Office of International Programs “encourages every Washington College student to participate in an overseas educational experience.”
WC students are eligible to study abroad after completing three semesters at WC. They must meet the minimum GPA requirement of the institution they want to attend, which is usually around a 3.0. They must also be proficient in the language of the institution, typically by passing a 300 level course or by being a native speaker. The study abroad programs in Brazil, Denmark, Hong Kong Morocco, South Korea, and Turkey are taught in English, so even students who cannot speak a foreign language are able to travel to and learn in an exotic country very different from the United States. And even students with a GPA below the host institutions’ requirements can still participate in a faculty-led study abroad program.
“There is a maturation that happens when students spend time overseas,” McCleary said. “They develop an increased level of independence (even the most independent students) and the ability to navigate new and different situations on their own.”
There are opportunities for every WC student, and a meeting with the Office of International Programs and one’s faculty advisor can help one a find the right program.
Studying abroad is an invaluable part of the college experience in which students learn and grow, helping them to discover themselves as human beings and find their place in the vast and diverse world.