Happy New Year from all of us in Study Abroad!
The demographics of our students going abroad remain counter-intuitive to the national trends. In 2012, 54% of those who studied abroad self identified in a race/ethnicity category other than 'White'; 68% depended on financial aid; 42% were Pell eligible; 18% were STEM majors/minors; and the disciplines sending the highest numbers of students abroad were Psychology, Spanish, and Biological Sciences.
Our portfolio of programs and enrollment opportunities is like a small college, with over 2500 courses available worldwide. Our consistent message to students is that study abroad is not an 'add-on'. It is designed to be integrated into and enhance the student's undergraduate curriculum. All credit earned is pre-approved by faculty or colleges as part of graduation requirements; 51% of credit earned was for a major or minor.
Significant longitudinal studies have been done at U-Minnesota, UC-San Diego, and the U of Georgia system showing that studying abroad increases retention and graduation rates. Preliminary data for UIC shows that study abroad does not reduce retention or the time to graduation.
In surveys done at first contact with SAO, in addition to credit and course availability, cost is listed by students as one of their strongest concerns. We do everything we can to dissuade students about the mythology of this barrier. The average cost of a term abroad (including airfare) is about the same as being full-time at UIC and living on campus with a meal plan. Most notable is that in 2012, a total of $271,728 was awarded to UIC Study Abroad students in competitive scholarship and grant funding. Of this, $71,000 was won by Pell eligible students awarded the national Gilman International Scholarship.
Money is always a factor, but it does not need to be at the head of the list. Some students stand out for their persistence and focus. Two great examples of what's possible:
-----An African-American Theater and Performance major who will study this Spring in Italy. He received multiple awards totaling $10,500, including a Gilman International Scholarship. In his application essay he wrote, in part: "Identifying as an African-American as well as a first generation college student, I recognize the disparity of opportunity that arises from the lack of exposure to other cultures, ideas, and values....I intend to use my experience to inspire high school students to recognize the significance of college to their future and to encourage minority students to participate in the study abroad program."
-----A Pell eligible, first generation Latina will be going to study in Senegal. She won three awards totaling $9,250, including the Gilman International Scholarship. She is a Psychology major and French minor who chose Francophone Africa because "it will allow me to learn my fourth language - Wolof - in addition to English, Spanish, and French."
Most of the increase in our enrollments over the past couple of years has been through UIC faculty-led programs. For summer 2013 we have seven programs being offered. See the SAO website. These are terrific opportunities for students looking for short-term (4-6 weeks) programs with at least one course taught by UIC faculty.
Sometimes the decision to go abroad includes a range of family members. To better reach that audience, our Parent Info page on the SAO website now has Google Translate functionality for translation into 65 languages - from Afrikaans to Yiddish.
Finally, the real or imaginary challenges students face are also often sitting in a larger context of how they receive and process information. Access to technology and multiple strands of social media have made access to core benefits of an academic international education experience more difficult. While it is a good exercise to be able to quantify who and how many are abroad, it is equally important to prepare students to take on an immersive qualitative approach to their experience. See the Chronicle of Higher Ed article related to this on our website in the Perspectives section
As always, please don't hesitate to contact us for materials, questions, special presentations, or help in advising a student.
Director, Study Abroad
2013 is off to a great start! UIC Study Abroad students have had another successful semester, receiving $85,000 in scholarships and grants for the Spring 2013 term. This includes over $16,000 in nationally competitive awards such as the Gilman International Scholarship.
In addition to the already generous scholarships they provide to UIC students (i.e. UIC-CIEE Diversity Fund, UIC-CIEE GAIN Summer Scholarship), one of our key consortium partners, CIEE, named 13 top college and university students as inaugural Language Intensive Focus Track (LIFT) scholars. As a LIFT scholar, UIC student Natalie Zine, received $7,500 to help fund the extension of her Fall 2012 program in Lisbon, Portugal through the Spring 2013 term. 2013 LIFT scholarship recipients were chosen from a highly competitive pool of current CIEE students pursuing intensive language development in Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, or Russian. Beginning in fall 2013, LIFT scholarships will be available to students on all year-long CIEE language programs.
Jonathan Boyden is a Theater major who will study Italian language and culture in Florence, Italy through CAPA. Jonathan diligently applied to scholarships in order to make his study abroad dream a possibility and received four scholarship awards totaling $10,500, including both the prestigious and nationally competitive Gilman International Scholarship and the CAPA Access Scholarship for underrepresented students.
Annayeli Munoz is a Psychology major and French minor who will study French and Senegalese studies through CIEE in Dakar, Senegal. She won three awards totaling $9,250, including the Gilman International Scholarship and the UIC-CIEE Diversity Fund.
Julian Collins is an Urban Planning major who will be going abroad for the second time to study Spanish and Urban Planning in Valparaiso, Chile through CIEE. Through his hard work and determination, Julian received three scholarship awards totaling $8,250. These include the Gilman International Scholarship and the UIC-CIEE Diversity Fund.
Cristian Yugsi, a Sociology major and Study Abroad alum is one of sixty-four undergraduates nationwide who have been invited to present their undergraduate research projects at the Fifth Annual Human Development Conference at the University of Notre Dame, February 8-9. Cristian will present on "Exploring the Bolivian Educational Rupture". His research explores Bolivian educational policies from 1900 to the present and focuses on the division between urban and rural education. The theoretical framework is based in the works of Emilie Durkheim, Louis Althusser, Pierre Bourdieu, Antonio Gramsci and Maria Talavera to define institutionalized education in a sociological context as a social construction and its relationship to control and power.
Cristian Yugsi studied abroad in Fall 2011 in La Paz, Bolivia with The School for International Training (SIT). The main curriculum theme was Latin American Revolutionary Movements and Conflict Resolution, a program that explores the political, social, and economic dynamics shaping Latin America's revolutionary movements emanating from grassroots, regional, and transnational levels. Through traditional in-class lectures, workshops, site visits, and discussions in the field, students examine the reshaping of leftist ideology by select governments; the ways conflicts in the region seem to emerge and be resolved; and the social demands that revolutionary movements champion. The semester culminates with a four week undergraduate research project that relies on original source work through interviews, participant observation, and primary texts.
Cristian won $7,000 in competitive scholarship support to study abroad, including the prestigious nationally competitive Gilman International Scholarship and the UIC-SIT Diversity Fund award. On return to UIC, he was chosen by SIT as a student ambassador for his program and spent three days in a professional development training program at SIT's main campus in Vermont.
As my plane took off out of O’Hare airport last September, headed toward Bilbao, Spain, the clouds in the sky were barely distinguishable through my tears. I was nothing short of terrified. Four months later, as I was landing back in Chicago, I was once again an emotional mess, having spent my entire flight reminiscing about what was easily the greatest experience of my life. I was hugely impacted by every aspect of my study abroad experience – my warm-hearted host family, the awe inspiring landscapes, the decadent food, and the lifelong friends I’d made, who were now scattered throughout the world, experiencing the same Bilbao-withdrawals as I was. To say that my experience living in the Basque Country – with frequent international weekend trips to world-renowned cities such as Rome, Paris, and Barcelona – has rendered me a “cultured” young adult, broadened my horizons, and irreversibly altered my view of the world would be a satisfactory start to relay the story of the past four months of my life, but truth be told, when I’m welcomed home by eager friends and family, all by a variation of the question: “How was Spain?” I always echo the same response: “I don’t even know where to begin…”
Katie Mattera, Spanish Major
CIDE – Universidad de Deusto Bilbao, Spain
The sun shines brighter here. It illuminates and exaggerates the colorful buildings, the beautiful azulejos (tiles), and the terra-cotta rooftops. The river Tagus sparkles with old wisdom and spirit. The narrow cobblestone streets curve and wind around the city, daring you to get lost. Each corner of Lisbon, each pocket of color and intrigue, paints a new picture for you to enjoy, and music surrounds you wherever you go, in various shapes and styles. This city is full of flavor and tastes, people and passion, surprises and secrets. It’s the secret recipe you know you adore, but can’t identify exactly why.
Lisbon has everything you could possibly desire in a great city, while maintaining the intimate, inviting feeling of a small town. Every day is an adventure. I decided to try living in the University's International Resident Halls because I'd already experienced living with a family before. The dorms have been great. I got the chance to meet and become friends with students from all over Europe. We go out together, study together, even throw each other birthday parties! We're like one huge family. The kitchen is cramped sometimes but it's always good fun to be around everyone. The dorms are also close to school, as well as a beautiful park I like to jog in. There is still so much to do, to learn, to unravel in this mysterious, beautiful place. After four months of living here I just couldn’t leave. I’m now looking forward to spending another five months in Lisbon!
I’d also like to thank CIEE for the wonderful scholarship opportunities they provide for students. I wouldn’t be here otherwise! Originally I applied for the Academic Year abroad but because of financial difficulties I had to drop out of the second semester. Fortunately, after spending days looking for scholarship opportunities, my program director sent me an e-mail with the subject title "The answer to all your problems!" And it was! I learned that CIEE had come up with a new scholarship especially designed for programs in critical language countries (for which Portugal now applies). So I wrote the application, hoped for the best, and I ended up receiving $7,500 toward my Spring semester. I am so grateful to CIEE and this scholarship because now I get to stay here another semester!
Natalie Anne Zine
As we are entering the recruiting cycle for all summer, fall and academic year programs, we would like to highlight seven UIC Faculty Led programs that will be offered this upcoming summer. These thematic programs offer wide range of course work for every student on campus. Participation on a UIC Faculty led program is a great way for students to connect with a UIC Faculty and get to know their fellow students.
Why study abroad with UIC Faculty?
Last semester Nicolas Bernal, Academic Advisor, Undergraduate Programs in CBA, had an opportunity to visit various study abroad programs in London and Paris. Unfortunately, Nicolas didn’t study abroad himself while in college; however he is a big supporter of study abroad and encourages all his students to take advantage of this great opportunity. While in London, Nicolas visited the CAPA International Education program that is located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. He toured their facility, and had an opportunity to visit an internship site. As Nicolas pointed out: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent learning about CAPA London and everything they have to offer. They are committed to assisting students in experiencing life as a true “Londoner”. I am confident that any student who chooses to study there will have a wonderful experience.”
In addition, Nicolas visited the IES London program. "This is a great option for students who wish to intern abroad during the summer. Their program focuses on practical experience in the workplace and is complemented by classroom learning and the cultivation of global leadership skills. Students who pursue this opportunity spend four full days per week working at their internship placement and one morning in the classroom. This experience looks great on a resume and can count for up to six hours towards our general education elective requirement. I sincerely hope that business students will take advantage of this program in the near future. I believe it will provide a huge return on their study abroad investment."
As we are entering the busy application cycle for summer and fall programs, we will continue to offer an expanded number of First Step information sessions. To further support students and help them in their program decisions, we will offer 'walk-in' advising hours. All sessions take place at the Study Abroad Office, 502 UH. More information can be found on our website.