– From Ireland to Ghana, the Study Abroad Office has connected the University of Missouri-St. Louis with universities all over the world, helping students to uncover the world one page – or country – at a time.
PHOTO: Study Abroad Fair at UMSL 2012. Photo: Ahmad AlJuryyed for The Current.  © The Current 2012


By Sharon Pruitt, Editor-in-Chief for The Current

Augustine of Hippo once said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only [a] page.” From Ireland to Ghana, the Study Abroad Office has connected the University of Missouri-St. Louis with universities all over the world, helping students to uncover the world one page – or country – at a time.

“Students who study abroad often return with a greater awareness of the global environment, have experienced personal growth, and are often more independent and confident than they were prior to departure,” Liz Shabani, Study Abroad Coordinator, said.

The Study Abroad Office, located in room 261 of the Millennium Student Center, assists students who are interested in studying abroad. The Study Abroad Ambassadors Program pairs students who are interested in studying abroad with students who already have, or with incoming exchange students from a variety of countries.

Nate Daugherty, Study Abroad Coordinator, suggests students plan early by talking with academic advisers and finding the best way to fit studying abroad into their degree plan. Students should also think about where they would like to go. The Study Abroad Office’s website lists a variety of options, and Study Abroad Coordinators are available to help students search the directory and find the best program to fit their needs.

“I think the most beneficial aspect of traveling through the Study Abroad Office is knowing you have the support here at home. As a first-time traveler, it was reassuring to know that there were individuals who deal with traveling and studying abroad on a daily basis to assist me if something went wrong,” Ericka Thomas, senior, Public Policy and Administration, said. Thomas recently attended the Irish Summer School Program at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Dr. Eamonn Wall, UMSL Smurfit-Stone Corporation Professor in Irish Studies, is faculty adviser of the program. He describes working with students abroad as the best part of his job.

“Working with UMSL students in Ireland and seeing Ireland through their eyes, I am privileged to see many Irelands that are new to me,” Wall said. Though Wall has lived in the US for thirty years, he was raised in Ireland. “Study Abroad programs take faculty out of their offices and classrooms and into the field and this is always a good thing.”

The Study Abroad Fair is a great way for interested parties to learn more about expanding their global horizons. The fair will be held on August 28, from 10 am to 2 pm in Century Room C. Past participants and representatives from various programs will be present to answer questions.

That studying abroad is an impossibility for most students is one myth the Study Abroad Office would love to put to rest.

“Some of the most memorable experiences are those working with students who never thought that Study Abroad could be a reality for them. Working with these students to establish a plan far in advance and then meeting with them upon their return is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job,” Shabani said, who went on to discuss one student in particular, a Spanish major who had never left the Midwest or spoken with a native speaker outside of the classroom. “He participated in our Winter Intersession program to Costa Rica, returned and then enrolled in our Summer program to the Dominican Republic. It wasn’t long until he was abroad in Chile for the semester.”

“My favorite moment so far was seeing off our seven Missouri Africa Program participants at the airport on their way to Ghana. Some of them had never flown on an airplane before, much less left the country, and here they were, braving the unknown,” Daugherty said.

With the announcement of a new partnership with the Universidad de Montevideo in Uruguay, the Study Abroad Office, which is part of International Studies and Programs, is expanding their reach even further this year. The partnership marks their first semester or academic year program in South America.

© The Current 2013