All the places you’ll go

Maria McGinnis

College is full of incredible experiences, and those experiences aren’t limited to just the Kent Campus. With over 200 program options to choose from, studying abroad is a great way to enhance your college experience.

Kent State offers education abroad programs in other countries that house a Kent State partnered campus such as Florence, Italy; Geneva, Switzerland and Prague, Czech Republic, as well as a summer program in Xi’an, China.

Kent State’s campus in Florence has been active for over 40 years. According to the program’s website, “From architecture to fashion to hospitality management, Kent State Florence is a comprehensive academic and cultural program. In addition to completing a full course load, students have many opportunities to get acquainted with Florence and Italy during their time studying abroad.”

The Florence program is housed in the Palazzo Vettori, an ancient building in the heart of Florence, built in the beginning of the 15th century.

While Kent State’s campus in Florence is the most popular place to study abroad, each different program the university offers has something for everyone, said Sara Morato, assistant director of education abroad.

Kent State Geneva is made possible through a partnership with Webster University and offers a variety of course options and internship opportunities at an international organization or non-governmental organization.

The Kent State Geneva program, housed on Webster University-Geneva’s campus, is home to over 600 students from over 90 countries. According to the program’s website, “Geneva is home to the United Nations and other major international organizations, numerous multinational corporations and a vibrant financial and trading center. These organizations and other cultural institutions can provide you with additional opportunities to augment your learning outside the classroom.”

Kent State Prague is based at Anglo-American University in the Czech Republic. Kent State Prague gives students the opportunity to experience both history and culture. According to the program’s website, students can “dive into Prague’s rich history and unique culture, while enjoying its modern amenities, hip arts scene and European charm. And because of its location in Central-Eastern Europe, Prague is an ideal location to study and travel throughout Europe and the UK.”

The Prague program offers courses in several areas including journalism, communications, business administration, history, political science, Jewish studies and social sciences.

The Kent State Xi’an Summer Institute located in Xi’an, China is a four-week program that includes a combination of Kent State and host university, Xi’an International Studies University (XISU), courses and cultural immersion.

While attending the program, students will stay in the Xi’an International Studies University hotel near the heart of XISU campus. According to the program’s website, “…the XISU campus features convenient access to an array of cultural venues, traditional cuisine and modern entertainment. Local XISU faculty and staff serve as a source of constant support and cultural engagement, providing a truly immersive experience.”

Jenny Hamilton, a recent speech pathology graduate, studied abroad in Florence the last semester of her senior year in Spring 2019.

“The opportunities Kent offers abroad are amazing,” Hamilton said. “I was able to explore all over Europe through field trips and personal trips on the weekends. I would recommend it to anyone, it is the only time that you have no other real responsibilities or a job that you have to get back to, so being able to actually live in another country for four months is something you will never forget.”

Although there is a little bit of homesickness involved, Hamilton said studying abroad is worth it.

“It is a little intimidating and you can get a little homesick around the holidays or other important dates like that, but it’s worth it,” she said. “The scariest part was packing and physically getting on the plane knowing you won’t be back in the states for four months. But as soon as I got there, it was all so exciting that I was less nervous about it than I thought I would be.”

Education abroad is not limited to only students on Kent’s main campus. Students from any one of Kent’s eight regional campuses can participate in the study abroad programs available.

Grace Smith, a sophomore integrated science major, studied abroad in Rome last semester through a class on Baroque art in Rome she took through Kent Stark.

“It (her class) was a week and a half and it was basically an in depth study of Rome,” Smith said. “We went into just about every church that was there and studied the art. I was totally new to art history so I learned a whole lot. We studied painters, sculptors and even architecture. We also had the afternoons to ourselves so a lot of us explored the city. My group went to the catacombs and the beach in Civitavecchia.”

Smith recommends studying abroad, however, she said it may not be for everyone.

“You have to be willing to throw yourself entirely into a new culture and that can be tricky,” she said. “There are so many barriers, but once you cross them, it’s like nothing you’ve ever done before. The first few days I was a bit timid, but by the end I knew my way around. This sounds cheesy, but it really changes your outlook on the world. I also recommend studying in a subject you don’t know about. I went for an art class because I wanted to expand my knowledge of the world.”

There are also Kent State faculty-led programs that differ from Kent State Centers abroad. Amber Cruxton, interim director of education abroad, said these faculty-led programs are typically shorter term than courses taken at Kent State Centers.

“The Kent State Centers abroad are independent programs that are open to all students that have a variety of different courses,” Cruxton said. “They operate similar, especially our Florence program, to a regional campus. Those are typically semester opportunities from six to 18 credits. Our faculty-led program is typically shorter term and led by individual faculty from Kent campus. Say you have a faculty member in JMC who wants to teach a JMC course, they then take you (abroad) with a group of students. Whereas with the centers, it’s taught by local international faculty.”

Faculty-led programs are offered in several countries. The Global Education website offers a full list of programs students can search through to find the best option for them.

Students can also apply for the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP). ISEP is a network of over 300 institutions in 50 countries that “offers you more options for finding the best academic, geographic and cultural match for your field of study and areas of interest,” according to the program’s website.

Students interested in applying for ISEP must have a 2.5 GPA and be in good academic standing at Kent State. A full list of programs to search through is available on the program’s website.

There are also opportunities to volunteer and complete an internship abroad. These opportunities can last for a week or up to an entire semester. “Experiences range from teaching English to elementary children in Chile to working for a women’s group in India,” according to the program’s website, where a full list of opportunities is available.

There are also non-Kent State sponsored programs. Kent State offers over 200 program options in 60 different countries, but students can choose to apply for programs outside of what Kent is currently offering. The Global Education website offers a self-advising guide to help students prepare for a non-Kent State sponsored program.

With so many program options to choose from, it may be hard to decide what program abroad is the best fit. Jokingly, but there is some truth to it, sometimes the hardest part is choosing a program, Cruxton said.

Some students make their decision on a location abroad based on academics and what courses they need to fulfill their major requirements. Although, there are several different factors that can go into shaping that decision.

“However, some students come to us and say, ‘I want to go to Japan, how do I make that work?’ And then we work with them to find a program that would make the most sense for them and fit into their roadmap,” Cruxton said. “It’s really a dance between a lot of different people on campus, there are a lot of different factors that students have to take into consideration. We do encourage students to spend some time on the online program database. There are over 200 programs in 60 countries so it is a little bit overwhelming.”

According to Cruxton, there are three main areas of growth that take place during a study abroad experience: academic, professional and personal growth.

“The first thing is your academic growth. Of course learning your field of study in another context will make you more academically well rounded,” Cruxton said. “Then there’s professional growth. Studies have shown that if you study abroad, you’re more likely to not only be hired as soon as you graduate but also come in at a higher income, because of a lot of the transversal skills you learn during your study abroad experience. Also no matter what industry a student may be going into, everything is a global market now. So if you have never studied abroad and you’ve never been outside of the country, it’s something that you don’t bring to the table when you apply.”

Having an experience abroad is something students can showcase during employment. The return on your investment for studying abroad is huge, Cruxton said.

“Often times students go abroad to learn about a different culture but in turn what they learn about is themselves,” Cruxton said. “They learn about their own culture and how it fits into the rest of the world. You develop valuable friendships, you may cultivate new interests and hobbies and meet people from around the world. If you go to Italy, it’s a lot different than going to Little Italy in Cleveland for example. You can’t replicate that experience here in the United States.”

Study Away and Travel Study Opportunities

Kent State also offers students who wish to travel, but not across the pond, domestic study away opportunities.

These are locations within the United States that host Kent State courses, often specific to individual colleges, like the School of Fashion’s NYC Studio.

NYC Studio

The NYC Studio opened in 2006 and hosts Kent State and non-Kent State students year-round.

According to the studio’s website, “Located in the heart of New York City’s Garment District, the NYC Studio provides full-semester academic programs for Kent State fashion students during the fall, spring, or summer terms. New York City, the epicenter of the fashion world, is itself a textbook providing rich, cultural wealth and inspiration that is unparalleled. When studying at the NYC Studio, students will learn from instructors who have successful careers in the NYC fashion industry. In addition, students can participate in prestigious internships and further their fashion careers by networking with professionals and alumni.”

A full list of courses available in the immersive NYC program can also be found on the studio’s website. As well as information about financial aid, housing while in New York and a photo and video gallery to refer to.

Columbus Program in State Issues

This program is open to students of all majors from all campuses with a 2.5 GPA, although it’s primarily for juniors and seniors. Participation in the Columbus program is selective and internship spots available during the semester are limited.

After completing the program curriculum and one to three other required courses, students will have fulfilled the requirements of a political science minor.

According to the program’s website, as an intern students will, “study practical aspects of public policy-making firsthand, have the opportunity to establish career-long professional contacts, gain valuable pre-career knowledge and skills and enjoy the cultural amenities of Ohio’s capitol city.”

Also available on the website are details about living costs, coursework and the application process.

Washington Program in National Issues

The Washington Program in National Issues (WPNI) is a full 15-week academic program offered each spring semester that offers 15 credit hours. According to the program’s website, “A select group of juniors and seniors from various academic disciplines study the U.S. political process and national and international policy issues firsthand in the most dynamic and stimulating political atmosphere in the world: Washington, D.C.”

The program’s three primary objectives are: to facilitate learning about the U.S. political system and its policy issues, develop an understanding of the interrelationship of public issues and structures of government and encourage individual initiative and provide for experiences in internship and research.

Also available on the program’s website is the program syllabus and coursework, information about eligibility, cost and living in Washington, D.C.

CAS Education Away

The College of Arts and Sciences offers several education away opportunities with specific classes. The 2019-2020 opportunities include Detroit, Michigan, New York City, Washington, D.C. and Sevilleta, New Mexico.

Some of the study away courses include Jewish New York, Black Images and Desert Ecology in the American Southwest.

On the program’s website, students can find full descriptions of each study away course, details about cost and travel dates.

School of Art Travel Study

The School of Art offers several travel study programs each year. These programs are designed to enhance the student’s learning experience by modeling professional practice, museum studies and other cultural experiences.

Trips to New York, Paris, London, Florence, China and Washington, D.C. are offered each semester annually and bi-annually.

Details about each location and the coursework that coincides with it can be found on the program’s website. Along with eligibility requirements and financial information.

Maria McGinnis is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]