Honors College offers European options

Trevor Ivan

“When students see page after page of smiling students, they realize how enjoyable the experience can be,” said Carolyn Sampson, coordinator of two study abroad opportunities run by the Honors College. “Students realize all the wonderful places they are able to go to.”

Students have the option of studying at the University of Leicester in England or the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. Both options are open to all Kent State students even if they are not enrolled in the Honors College.

Both universities offer both year and semester-long programs.

Sampson said students can choose which university they wish to attend, but scheduling and academic programs may ultimately affect which university a student attends.

“If a student can only go during the fall semester, he or she must go to Leicester,” she said. “We don’t offer a program at Ulster during fall semester because their fall semester doesn’t end until January.”

Ulster offers more business courses, while both universities have a focus on basic sciences and the humanities, Sampson said. While studying abroad, students will take three classes, which is equivalent to 15 credit hours at Kent State.

There is a greater emphasis on independent study. Students will go to the library and do research in areas that interest them. There are also no quizzes.

“Students will also have tutorial sessions with the professors about what they learned,” she said. “Students will need to know the material since they can’t fake it during these sessions.”

Sampson said safety is a concern of some students since Ulster is located in Northern Ireland, an area plagued by conflict about religious differences.

“The conflict in Northern Ireland is played up too much by American media,” she said. “The fighting is really confined to one or two blocks in the city of Belfast.”

Sampson said she remembered a parent who came to an informational meeting about Ulster and was totally against his daughter going there because of safety concerns. He began to feel comfortable once he listened to students who studied in Ulster talk about how safe the program is.

Students often think cost is a barrier to studying abroad, Sampson said. If a student goes on the full-year program at either university, the student is considered an exchange student.

“As an exchange student, the (Kent State) student pays tuition and for a double room here at Kent State,” she said. “In turn, a student from Great Britain pays the tuition and room and board at their institution and then comes (to Kent State) to study.”

Students also have options to travel to other parts of Europe during their stay as well. Travel is what often adds the most costs to a student’s bill, Sampson said.

Before students depart for either university, Sampson holds a send-off meeting in order to help students feel more comfortable.

“At these meetings, I often have former students from the program come and speak,” she said. “They are able to give students advice on things like buying a young person’s rail pass so they can save 30 percent on rail travel.”

“A study abroad opportunity not only allows the student to develop academically, but also to develop as a citizen of the world as well,” said Larry Andrews, dean of the Honors College. “Not only is the student being exposed to different academic contexts, but to other ways of life as well.”

Contact honors and international affairs reporter Trevor Ivan at [email protected].