By Holly Renner
A college education opens doors — in this case, doors to other countries.
Baylor offers study abroad and foreign exchange programs to challenge students to further their education both inside and out of the classroom.
“All of our study abroad programs are different,” semester study abroad program coordinator Jackie Blankenship wrote in an e-mail to the Lariat. “Some group programs stay in host homes, some exchange programs stay in dorms. It is all dependent on what program you choose.”
Blankenship said Baylor in Maastricht, Netherlands is the most popular study abroad program. It has been running for almost 20 years.
Blankenship said Baylor goes in a group to a study-abroad program, whereas with exchange programs, there may or may not be other Baylor students, there are no Baylor faculty members and Baylor students do not travel, live or study together. Baylor faculty members teach some or all of the courses in a studyabroad program.
J.J. Ilseng, exchange program and study abroad adviser, has been a faculty member in the study abroad office since November 2011. Ilseng said he believes studying abroad offers students something to capitalize on — an insight into another culture and immersion in a foreign language.
“Expanding on academic, social and professional connections are very important in this economy. Study abroad facilitates people-to-people relationships,” Ilseng said.
Ilseng said he has found that people are able to have higher competency in a foreign language through studying abroad.
Maxey Parrish, Senior Lecturer of Journalism, has led two summer programs for Baylor in Florence, one Maastricht program, and 10 student mission trips during his time as a Baylor faculty member. Parrish said he realized the importance of immersion in another culture and the large benefits students gain from studying abroad.
“From a practical standpoint, when they are exposed to a very rich array of material that is inspirational, it opens a door of wonderful things,” Parrish said. “You can’t do these programs without learning what it’s like to live in another country.”
Lovettsville senior Emily Jones studied abroad in Maastricht during fall 2011.
“I gained an appreciation for other cultures and people,” she said. “The way we traveled was one day we’d be in one city, and the next day we may have been in another country.”
Baylor offers study abroad programs that are available to all majors, and trips are taken during the fall, spring and summer semesters. Some study abroad programs are major-specific, such as the medical program in Maastricht.
This program is specifically made for pre-med students and is offered every two years. Other programs typically have a focus major, but students are not limited to those specific courses. Both undergraduates and students in a graduate program have the opportunity to study abroad. Baylor offers specific study abroad programs for graduate students, such as Baylor Law School in Guadalajara and Truett Seminary in Israel.
To study abroad or become a foreign exchange student, a student must have at least a 2.5 GPA and 30 completed hours before departure.
Baylor offers study abroad programs in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Australia, Europe, North America, South America and Central America, with a total of 64 study abroad programs and 46 foreign exchange programs.
To help students finance study abroad, Baylor offers the “in-house” Glennis McCrary Goodrich scholarship to eligible students.
To reach eligibility, a student must hold a 3.0 GPA, be in good standing with Baylor, attend a study abroad program with Baylor, and submit an application, unofficial transcript and one reference letter.
Scholarships are only offered for spring and fall semesters, and they can be found on the Baylor Study Abroad website.
“There is a study abroad program out there for every student and to fit every degree program,” Blankenship said.
A Study Abroad Fair will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 11 in the Barfield Drawing room in the Bill Daniel Student Center. This event gives students an overview of the various study abroad and exchange programs offered by Baylor.
In addition, information regarding study abroad and exchange programs can be accessed on the study abroad website at www. bearsabroad.baylor.edu.