By Corrie Coleman | Reporter
Baylor has started four new study abroad programs this semester located in Berlin, Shanghai, Prague and Santiago.
The Berlin program, although not the first in Germany, is one of the only program that does not require students to be proficient in German.
Bobby Leis, study abroad adviser, said many students want to go to Germany, but because they do not speak the language, were previously unable to participate. Now, Baylor has partnered with CIEE Global Institute Berlin, where students from all over the world attend and classes are taught in English.
“Students can go there and take their core business classes, political science and international studies,” Leis said. “Those are all taught in English, but they get to live in the heart of Berlin at the same time and be immersed.”
Like the Berlin program, the classes offered in Shanghai are through an all-English program. With a focus on business and culture, this program aims to help business students by allowing them to fully experience Chinese culture as they learn.
“We send so many students to Western Europe that we really need to get more students to start pushing out into North Africa, the Middle East, Latin America or East Asia,” Leis said. “Not having a program in Shanghai seemed like a pretty big hole in our portfolio.”
Another new program in Prague, Czech Republic, serves students across all disciplines. Classes are offered that fulfill core requirements for many students in areas such as business, political science and international studies.
Leis says Baylor began researching ways to begin a semester program after students who had visited Prague returned with good reports.
Santiago, Chile, the fourth new program this year, focuses on business, international studies and Spanish. This program also allows Baylor to become more engaged in Latin America, something Leis views as important for the university and students.
“Considering how close we are to South America geographically and how many students are [studying] Spanish … we wanted to be more involved with that world,” Leis said.
Leis said he believes studying abroad can be incredibly formative. He says the experiences students have while in another culture help them mature and gain confidence.
“I think that we grow anytime we do something different or outside of our comfort zone,” Leis said. “It helps us realize what we are capable of.”
He also emphasized that studying abroad can be beneficial when searching for jobs or internships.
“I also think students need to consider that … these are things that highlight your portfolio. These are things that make you stand out as a candidate,” Leis said.
Mansfield junior Travis Aune attended Baylor Business in Europe, where students visit 10 cities in five weeks. He said studying abroad has been an important part of his time at Baylor.
“It was my first time leaving the country,” Aune said. “Honestly, it was my first time really seeing different cultures … It was just really fascinating.”
New Braunfels junior Claudia Skolaut also studied abroad. While attending Baylor in Maastricht, she enjoyed exploring the city as well as attending Maastricht University.
“Just do it. You won’t regret it,” said Skolaut.
Leis believes that although living in another country can be challenging, it will ultimately benefit students.
“I want students to go abroad and have a good time… but that’s far less interesting to me than … students growing and maturing,” Leis said. “When you come out on the other side of those hard and unique experiences, you learn a lot about yourself. You grow.”