Education Abroad makes international study a reality for USF students

Study abroad is an experience that few students are taking advantage of. Approximately 10 percent of undergraduates in the United States study abroad, according to the Institute of International Education.

“It’s such an amazing opportunity that so many students bypass just because of so many common myths like it’s expensive, or it’s not for me, or it’s not for my major,” Chris Haynes, student program coordinator for USF Education Abroad, said. “I feel like if they can come in and talk with me or talk with some of our GloBull Ambassadors who have been there and done that, we can really make this experience a reality. They also see the value in it.”

Education Abroad is working to improve the number of students who study abroad. They have teamed up with USF Career Services to inform people about the benefits.

“For an employer standpoint, we generally look for the whole person,” USF career consultant Doug Meyn said. “Yes, they may have had an internship, yes they may have had study abroad, but more importantly, what do those experiences mean? In other words, on a resume, I don’t like to just see, ‘I did this study abroad.’ OK, what did that mean to you? What did you learn from it? How does that make you a more well-rounded person?”

USF offers a wide variety of programs for its students, with over 100 Education Abroad trips in over 25 countries. Each program’s itinerary has a mix of scheduled activity and free time to explore. The aim is for students to be able to take away a unique cultural experience.

“The whole point is to get students onto the next level, whether that be in their professional careers or in graduate school,” Haynes said. “Study abroad is really a great stepping stone to make their resumes and their applications as competitive as possible. I think that’s something that I hope one day all students consider.”

Education abroad, not so foreign anymore

The University of South Florida is more globally connected than ever before. This year, USF Education Abroad ushered in over a thousand international students. With 25 programs to choose from, more and more USF students are going overseas.

“We have grown in our diversity of programs and our diversity of students in participation, and we have also just simply grown in number of students we’re sending,” said James Pulos, the Associate Director of Education Abroad.

The Education Abroad office was not always the big program that it is today. Before the 1980’s, international programs were singularly organized by professors and staff. Over the decades, the independent programs unified to become what is known today as Education Abroad. Prior to this, the office was called Study Abroad. Before that it was International Programs, and earlier Travel Study.

Today, USF is sending and receiving students from all over the globe. This semester there are students from universities in England, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, and Spain.

International students choose USF for multiple reasons.

Danish exchange student, Aske H. Muller chose USF for the weather and academics. “I wanted to live in a warm place, and a nice climate so I looked up Florida and California. Actually, USF was my first priority. I didn’t know it before I started looking into it, but it just seemed like a cool university.”

The exchange experience is different for each student, but the ultimate reward is creating global citizens within USF.

“Watching a student return from that and say, in the most positive and life-changing way” Pulos said, in regards to his favorite part of working with Education Abroad. “I have been changed and transformed, and I will carry this experience with me not for the remainder of the summer, not for five years, but for the rest of my life.”