By Alessandra Setaro
At Sacred Heart University, the choice to study abroad is both encouraged and highly desired by students because of the many diverse locations and opportunities to choose from.
Sacred Heart’s Study Abroad program was recently recognized as being one of the first higher-education institutions participating in the Generation Study Abroad initiative to have exceeded its goals in getting more students to participate in studying abroad in the past two years.
“I think students sometimes are afraid to go abroad, not in terms of what’s going on in the world but to leave your home and your friends behind,” said Francesca Schenker, Assistant Director of Global Affairs. “The added finance plays a part in their decision as well.”
Sacred Heart’s office of Global Affairs took a pledge with Generation Study Abroad in accordance with the Institute of International Education (IIE) to double the number of students who study abroad by 2020.
Sacred Heart exceeded that goal two years early which is why Sacred Heart was recognized, along with a few other higher-education institutions, by the IIE.
“In the last four years, we’ve diversified the opportunities for students and we have really looked at internationalizing curriculum,” said Matthew Kaye, Director of the Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning.
Sacred Heart’s study abroad programs also allow students from other countries such as India, China and Bangladesh, to study abroad at our Fairfield campus.
“Studying abroad gets you out of your Sacred Heart bubble, allows you to meet other people, maybe learn another language and see the world. There’s so many benefits to studying abroad,” said Schenker.
Junior Shannon Williams, studied abroad in Dingle, Ireland for the Spring 2016 semester. Williams, like most students, was nervous about leaving home for such a long period of time.
“I met my best friends while studying abroad and now I couldn’t even imagine my life without them,” said
Williams’ experience abroad gave her the motivation to sign up to participate in a mission trip in Africa this upcoming January.
Deana Kosmalski, a junior nursing major and business minor, Global Ambassador and Student Advisor, joined Williams for a semester in Dingle as part of the nursing program.
“Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to complete that [business] internship,” said Kosmalski.
Kosmalski was able to intern at the only gym in Dingle to satisfy the requiriment from both the nursing program and the Jack Welch College of Business.
“A lot of schools don’t give nursing majors the opportunity to study abroad, and Sacred Heart gave me that,” said Kosmalski.
The goal of Generation Study Abroad is to motivate students in the U.S. and in other parts of the world to go abroad and expand their knowledge.
On Sacred Heart’s campus, Global Ambassadors (GA) participate in pre-departure meetings for students who have applied to study abroad and share their personal experiences. The GA’s purpose is to inspire and excite the students and prepare them for their trip.
“I try to change myself and be more open to get to know people that I’ve never met because of studying abroad,” said Kosmalski.