by Sabrina Guilbeault ’18
Right before Thanksgiving break, the Center for International Studies (CIS) received the news that The Institute of International Education ranked Providence College number 10 among Masters’ Colleges & Universities for semester-long study abroad.
The report, called Open Doors, also ranked PC Number 25 for undergraduate participation in study abroad, and used data from the 2015-2016 academic year.
Adrian Beaulieu, dean of international studies, explained that PC began seeing an increase in students who study abroad in 2011, when the College implemented the homeschool tuition policy. With this policy, students pay the College’s tuition while studying elsewhere overseas, and therefore still qualify for the financial aid packages they would receive at PC.
“This made a world of a difference,” said Beaulieu. “It’s a big change, and allows more students the possibility to study abroad.”
“I wanted to study abroad to get the experience to study in a new context and to travel and experience different cultures,” said Megan Manning ’18 who spent last fall in Dublin. “For me it was easy to study abroad at PC because so many of my friends did as well and the study abroad office was very helpful in advising me what programs would help me stay on track with my major and have the experience I wanted.”
Beaulieu explained that CIS is composed of a four person staff who advise students as they prepare and make study abroad plans. “We advise on discipline rather than destination,” explained Beaulieu “and we hope to find students a program of study that would be a good fit for their major or minor.”
According to Beaulieu, this is a different mindset than other study abroad programs at other institutions as it distinguishes study abroad as a semester of academic study.
According to their website, CIS hopes students will benefit from studying abroad and would develop “a diverse and knowledgeable worldview,” “comprehend the international dimensions of their major field of study, develop cross-cultural sensitivity and adaptability,” and carry global competence throughout life.
“Studying abroad also seriously enhances students’ career prospects after graduation,” said Beaulieu. Also according to the goals layed out on their website, CIS advises students to select programs that will help them “acquire the knowledge, skills, and the intercultural agility that will help them to integrate their study abroad experience with their career aspirations or other post-graduate opportunities.”
“Studying abroad was the best decision I made at PC,” said Kellen Buckley ’18, a double major in global studies and Spanish who studied abroad in Madrid. “It really improved my Spanish, gave me new friends, and taught me a lot about being independent.”
For students who are weighing the options for whether or not to study abroad, Beaulieu stressed that studying abroad can be possible to all students, as the advisors do work with students to make it possible financially and with any major.
“I would tell anyone considering study abroad to do whatever it takes to make it happen, it was one of the highlights of my PC experience,” said Manning. “Not only did I have so much fun and meet so many friends, but I was also able to learn and grow so much and it gave me the confidence to tackle whatever comes next.”
The Institute of International Education also reported that study abroad participation nationally grew by 3.8 percent. The 10 most popular countries were the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, China, Ireland, Australia, Costa Rica, and Japan. Eighty-seven students even studied in Antarctica.
“We do hope that this can be a life changing experience,” said Beaulieu. “This should be an integral experience students have while at PC, as it opens countless opportunities.”
“Even though I always knew I wanted to study abroad, I got very nervous the week before leaving,” said Buckley, who remarked that she refused to pack because it meant she had to face her fears. “I don’t think I know anyone who wasn’t a little bit scared to go abroad, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.”