George Kuh, professor emeritus of education policy and leadership studies at Indiana University includes studying abroad in his cluster of ‘high impact activities’ that lead to student success. UIC data has shown that students who study abroad have retention and graduation rates almost double that of their freshman peer cohort. Scratching the surface of this kind of data just a bit, we can discover the deeper learning that’s taking place, i.e. learning that is very personal and in some cases life changing. It is learning that enhances perspective on identity and subsequently on what is important in a student’s hierarchy of priorities. It is this learning that is the fuel for the motivation that results in the dramatic graduation data.
In addition to expected academic content and improved foreign language skills, UIC students ranked five competencies honed abroad at the top of their post-program list last year: ability to adapt to new situations, improved communication skills, independence, sensitivity to different cultures, and interest in world events & social issues. In their own words:
A fundamental part of the Study Abroad Office’s student success efforts are centralized in advising where a core strategy is to make sure that students choose the right program for their academic and personal goals. Our key task is to help students connect all the parts of their decisions around location, choosing coursework toward graduation, logistics, finances, and family. Ultimately, each student needs to choose a program and own it with a reason and a focus for a particular location and/or curriculum.
We have a portfolio of over 200 programs. There is something for everyone. Here’s a sampling of some of the best.
UIC’s Study Abroad cohort stands out as one of the most diverse in the nation blending multiple factors of race and ethnicity, socio-economic status, and cultural affiliation. Through national, institutional, and consortium partner grant and scholarship funding, Study Abroad continues to be an accessible international academic experience for students to explore difference in themselves and the world around them.Hide this content.
Executive Director, Study Abroad
Scholarship and grant funding for study abroad has a growing portfolio of opportunities. Merit awards can be substantial (up to $5,000) but there are multiple awards that are particularly accessible to students who are Pell eligible, and/or represent diversity across a range of indicators including race/ethnicity, STEM majors, LGBTQ, 1st generation in college, etc. So far in this academic year (Fall 2013 and Spring 2014), UIC students have received scholarship and grant funding totaling over $175,000 in amounts ranging from $500-$8,000. Eleven students won the nationally competitive Gilman International Scholarship specifically designed for Pell eligible students with an average award of just over $4,000.
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.
The study abroad program that I selected in Gaborone, Botswana was focused on community public health. During my time there I took three courses which covered Setswana language, culture practicum, and medical ethics/health practicum. Each of these classes contributed to the amazing experience that I had while abroad. I worked in clinics everyday and learned so much about medicine. I know that this is a once in a lifetime program where students are able to receive complete access to patient care and hands on work in the medical field. In the beginning it was scary because I was given complete freedom to treat patients. With time I learned how to handle various situations and learned how to treat burn victims, HIV/AIDS patients, TB patients, assault victims, among many other conditions. I also did a home-stay in Kanye, Botswana and was able to get clinical experience in a small village! See more.
One of the best parts of Africa was the amount of volunteering I was able to do. I first visited the Tlhamelo Trust Orphanage during my third week in Botswana and decided that I wanted to make a mural on the wall for the children. My friends and I were able to create a beautiful mural while spending valuable time with all the children. Once I had a better grasp of Setswana, I was given the opportunity to walk around and visit children in Old Naledi, a dilapidated suburb in Gaborone where the orphanage is located. I saw children who were in need of ARV drugs to keep their HIV/AIDS in check and children who were being beaten and abused by their elders. There were children with lesions on their bodies because of the toll AIDS was taking on them. It is so difficult to listen to a small girl talk about who beat and assaulted her the night before. It is even worse when she sees you and wants to play a game like there is nothing wrong with the situation she is in.
One lesson that I will take away from my experience in Africa is to be grateful. For the first time in my life, I witnessed true adversity. I admire the children’s drive to look past their circumstances and live like there is no tomorrow. They are able to make do with any situation that comes their way. In the grand scheme of things, these children are the strongest individuals I have ever met. They have seen death, poverty, malnutrition, alcoholism, beatings, rape, and other horrific experiences. I learned so much during my time in Africa! I can’t wait to go back!
Vicki Shah, Biological Science major & Studio Art minor
CIEE Summer 2013 Community Public Health, Botswana
Once in a while an opportunity arises that should not be passed to study abroad; a choice made that I am overwhelmingly grateful for. Over the past several years I have had a curiosity in my ancestral background, particularly concerning my Italian predecessors. Because of this heritage. I have always had a deep interest in learning the Italian language and returning to the “old country” in order to rediscover my roots.
The program I attended, Italian Language and Culture in Siena, helped make this dream a reality. Not only did the program provide for me the resources and skills needed in order to revive my lost heritage, but it granted me a life-changing experience I will never forget. In and outside the classroom, I learned vital things concerning the culture and language of Italy. I absorbed these aspects of living and tradition; cultural traits that had been lost within my family after a few generations in America. This alone made for an outstanding experience…but for me the most rewarding part was my personal voyage to the village of Gualdo Tadino, Umbria, the birthplace of my great-grandfather Aurelio Moriconi. See more.
One weekend, alone, I made a pilgrimage to this town. As a genealogist, I took the opportunity to research my family tree while there. My expectations of discovery were nowhere near what I would indeed find. To begin, an expedition to the local cemetery rewarded me with the finding of numerous passed relatives, filling in the spots on my family tree. But what became the most awe-inspiring part of the trip was what happened later that day. After speaking with a local, telling her of my mission and the surnames I was researching, she informed me of a woman whom shared the same surname as my great-great-grandmother. I traveled to her abode where I spoke with her outside. A woman of nearly eighty, and no knowledge of English, I explained to her my situation and the people I was searching for. Immediately she recognized the names and showed me inside her home; my emotions filled with excitement. Out of an old desk she placed in front of me several pages of documented family tree research. As she thumbed through the names and dates I came across an incredible find: the names of my great-great-grandparents. I cannot even describe the level of excitement I felt at that moment. She then explained to me the relationship concerning my great-grandfather. As it turned out, my great-great-grandmother and her grandfather were siblings; she was my second cousin. I was beyond words to know that I had found an actual relative. Not only was I able to do research, see the town and learn about its history, but by luck I actually met long lost relatives. She provided me with vital information concerning the history of my family as well as a traditional Italian meal over which we talked and reconnected. Now that our family ties have been rekindled, I plan to keep in contact and build a stronger relationship. All things considered, my trip to Italy was life-changing, benefiting me in more ways than I can explain.
Dylan Shomidie, Anthropology major & Italian minor
Through the Study Abroad office students have access to more than 200 programs across all disciplines. We particularly want to highlight 7 UIC Faculty led programs that will take place during summer 2014. These thematic programs offer wide range of course work for every student on campus. They range from Spanish Language and Culture for Bilingual Speakers in Mexico, Cross Currents of American and Japanese cultures to Black and South Asian Communities in UK to mention the few.
Summer 2014 programs
“Heritage speakers already have communicative competence in Spanish. Our
program focuses on reading, writing, and Mexican culture.” Students participated in class sessions at the local university, hands-on workshops by local experts about cooking, ceramics, and alebrijes (painted wood figurines), and field trips to ancient Zapotec ruins, nature sites, and small towns famous for handicrafts.
“I think their favorite field trip was the rug weaving town of Teotitlán del Valle. We went with a group that fights poverty through a combination of tourism and micro-finance. They apply 100% of their fees to interest-free micro-loans that help women start or expand their small businesses. We were invited into the home of three sisters and their elderly mom. They were so generous andkind, offering us food and showing us how the wool arrives after being sheared, how it is spun into thread, how it is dyed, and the huge machines on which they weave the rugs.”
This video created by one of the participants shows a glimpse of what it would be like to study abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Associate Professor in the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies
Happy New Year to All & Buon Anno! Summer 2013 was another successful year for our UIC faculty led program to Siena, Italy where sixteen students and myself participated in six magical weeks in Rome, Florence, and Siena. We left mid-June arriving into the heat and heart of an Italian summer. The students earned 7 credits while studying and being able to have on site visits in places such as: The Vatican & St. Peters’ Square, The Sistine Chapel, Fontana di Trevi, Piazza di Spagna, The Pantheon, Colloseum, Piazza Navona, Villa Borghese just to name a few in Roma. The David of Michelangelo and the Uffizi Gallery, Piazzale Michelangelo and Ponte Vecchio, the world famous “Mercato” of San Lorenzo and of course the Duomo of Florence. Our UIC students eachyear since this program began in 2006 have been able to live in Siena, a beautiful medieval town, and experience the Palio, a fantastic and magical event involving a medieval horse race. While students are taking basic language and culture courses they also have the opportunity to take cooking classes from great Italian chefs or travelling to other parts of the Italian Peninsula on the weekends. I must mention that every first weekend in Tuscany students get the chance to live even for a day “La dolce Vita”(the sweet life) by visiting Follonica Beaches in the province of Grosseto in Tuscany. Follonica is considered to be the Miami of Tuscany! Students return home to Chicago with a baggage filled with language skills, immersion into culture, history and tons of books, stories and memories. We are now working on 2014 study abroad program and hope you can join us.
Lecturer, Department of Italian and Hispanic Studies
We invite you to watch a video Moises created about his experience in Amsterdam.
In February of 2013, I had the opportunity to visit the SIT Study Abroad program in Amsterdam: “International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender.” As the Program Coordinator at UIC’s Gender and Sexuality Center, this visit was especially exciting for me because I was able to get a glimpse of how sexuality and gender themes were presented in an academic environment in a country known for its progressive views on LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) issues and identities. I was impressed with the program’s rich content, structure, student support, and (of course) the lovely city of Amsterdam.
I was able to experience the first week of orientation along with students from all over the U.S. Since I was never exposed to a study abroad experience as an undergraduate or traveled to Europe, I felt that I was undergoing similar moments as a first-time student participating in this program. The first few days of orientation week were spent in the village of Egmond, a scenic, peaceful, and rural part of the Netherlands. It was in Egmond where students learned about SIT policies, academic expectations, their homestay arrangements, took their first classes, participated in group exercises, and even rode a bicycle to the beach. Students were then taken to Zaanse Schans to visit the open-air museum (Zaans Museum) where there were historic windmills, houses, and special exhibits. See more.
Arriving in Amsterdam was very thrilling for all of us. The picturesque canals, cozy streets, attractive architecture, and bicycles galore all added a unique charm to the city. In Amsterdam, students were able to explore cultural institutions, get acquainted with the SIT office where most of their classes would take place, and meet their homestay families.
What made my visit so unique was that I was able to get a glimpse of the programs and academic structure. I learned that one of the main academic highlights of SIT study abroad programs is the Independent Study Project (ISP). It was really interesting and exciting for me to hear the diverse research interests of the students, which included topics like: masculinity, sex work, sexual assault, female sexuality, sex education, race and gender intersections, disability, and LGBTQA activism to name a few. The Research Methods and Ethics class would help students develop and execute the aforementioned projects.
In the Introduction to Dutch Language and Culture class, students learned new vocabulary, practiced pronunciation, learned about Dutch interactions, and had fun practicing as a group. In the Theory and the Application of Feminist and LGBT Studies class, guest lecturers presented diverse topics from their research, professional practice, and/or activism. Sitting in during the guest lectures was a treat. The guest speakers I met were very passionate about their research, sensitive to the students’ questions, and seemed committed to providing a comprehensive understanding of Dutch society. I learned so much about Dutch culture, its political landscape, and identity dynamics. I can only imagine the wealth of knowledge that students would gain at the end of the program.
The students I met during my visit were very candid about their feelings, observations, and expectations of the program. A consistent feeling from almost every student I interacted with was the eagerness to be part of the two-week excursion to Morocco as part of their Migration, Gender, and Sexuality class. Students were very fascinated to explore Morocco because they wanted to gain insight into intersecting identities, including a Muslim perspective, as it relates to Dutch culture.
In the days that I was in Amsterdam, I couldn’t help but notice how much more comfortable I felt about my gay, queer identities (and I’ve been very out and actively visible for a long time). It was a different feeling—it was liberating. I didn’t feel that I had to police my gender expression or sexuality like I often have to do in the U.S. I felt safe. Obviously, I wasn’t there long enough to fully understand queer attitudes but what I witnessed was very promising.
My visit proved to be extremely informative in understanding the study abroad journey and initial impact on students. It was also intellectually fulfilling and culturally eye-opening. I think this program is a great example of how students can be challenged through academic discourse and research, learn and compare cultural dynamics of gender, sexuality, and migration, have hands-on community involvement, and live and explore in a country that is rich in identities.
Moisés Villada, Program Coordinator, Gender and Sexuality Center
First Step and Walk-in Advising
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.
[See our facebook page for additions to this schedule]
[See our facebook page for additions to this schedule]
Feb. 13th [Thursday] - Gilman International Scholarship application workshop.
12 – 1pm 2550 UH
Feb. 18th [Tuesday] - Information session on summer 2014 faculty-led program
Oaxaca, Mexico: Spanish Language and Culture for Heritage Speakers, led by Associate Professor Kim Potowski
7:30 – 8:30pm Latino Cultural Center
Feb. 19th [Wednesday] – Gilman International Scholarship application workshop.
12 – 1pm 2550 UH
Feb. 21st [Friday] - SIT academic consortium partner programs
9:30 - 11:15am & 1 - 3pm: Information table at SCE bookstore concourse
11:30am - 12:30pm: Information & Scholarship session in 502 UH
Feb. 25th [Tuesday] - UMN academic consortium partner programs
10:00am - 12:45pm: Information table at SCE bookstore concourse
1 - 2pm: Information & Scholarship session in 502 UH
Mar. 4th [Tuesday] - Gilman International Scholarship Deadline
Mar. 4th [Tuesday] - CIEE academic consortium partner programs
10am - 1pm: Information table at SCE bookstore concourse
1 - 2pm: Information & Scholarship session in 502 UH
Mar. 5th [Wednesday] - Information session on summer 2014 faculty-led program
Italian Language and Culture in Siena, led by Luca Bonomi, Director of Dante Alighieri
(our host institution in Siena) and Maria Iusco (program faculty leader).
2-3pm: Grant Hall 308
Mar. 12th [Wednesday] - IES academic consortium partner programs
10:30am - 2pm: Information table at SCE bookstore concourse
2:30 - 3:30pm: Information & Scholarship session in 502 UH
Mar. 21st [Friday] - Study Abroad application deadline