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From visiting one of the most beautiful Nordic cities, to exploring interpersonal relationships on beaches in Fiji, to understanding the integration of science and humanities in Italy, Arizona State University students are making the world their classroom.
“The beauty of the study abroad experience is that it opens your eyes to different ways of thinking that can spark new insights into how your own culture and community might operate,” said Paul LePore, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Students can choose from more than 250 programs in 65 different countries offered by the Study Abroad Office to complement studies in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. This year, the college’s faculty will direct several study abroad programs during spring and summer to help students culturally diversify themselves and gain valuable global skills — all while earning class credits from around the world.
“I’ve always wanted to lead a study abroad program,” said LePore, the faculty director of the Comparative Education in Finland program. “If I had an opportunity to travel and bring students along, I wanted to give it a shot! We put a program together on Finland to see how they might be doing education better than we are.”
The Comparative Education in Finland program is a two-week trip to Helsinki with visits to Estonia and Rovaniemi. Students will have a chance to explore K–12 schooling outside of the U.S. and experience firsthand the educational system of Finland, a known leader in education.
LePore, a sociologist who specializes in social psychology and the sociology of education, has been identifying factors that promote academic achievement and student success for years. This program furthers his own studies and helps students analyze trends that impact our nation’s educational system.
“It should be a lot of fun,” said LePore, who led the program last year. “You can read a lot about how other cultures think about education, but when you’re in a country and you can actually sit and watch classrooms, you can really delve deeply into the daily student experience and have deeper insight.”
The program is multidimensional, said LePore. Students see a different culture in terms of education, but they also experience the country’s economic and social history. These different perspectives allow for those studying abroad to experience a real richness and discover the context of a foreign land.
Students will also travel to Fiji for the Multicultural Psychology Summer Experience program, designed to highlight social dimensions of human behavior. They will address real-world issues that combine social and political factors, including sustainability and gender relations, to understand what affects daily life in another culture.
“I have a strong desire to share global immersion experiences with my students,” said Delia Saenz, associate professor in the Department of Psychology. “The lessons students learn from studying abroad change their current lives and inform their futures.”
Apart from learning about interpersonal perception and interpersonal relationships, students also have the opportunity to go snorkeling, scuba-diving, zip-lining and more in the cities of Suva and Nadi, Fiji.
“I become giddy in the process of designing the courses to be taught and the relevance of the material to the excursions we will take,” said Saenz, the faculty director of the program.
This will be her third time leading a study abroad program in Fiji. Over the years, she has become friends and collaborators with many Fijians and shares her international relationships with her students.
“Many of my Fijian friends often ask by name about students they have gotten to know and remember them with great fondness,” said Saenz. “I believe this reflects the fact that our students make genuine connections across the places we visit.”
Saenz encourages every student to gain global experience because they have a lasting impact.
“Study abroad changed my life,” said Charlotte Harrington, a psychology and English major who participated in the program. “Living abroad for a month showed me I want to go beyond just traveling and live abroad someday. Travel has become my greatest passion, and I plan to pursue it endlessly!”
Most study abroad experiences are specific to an academic unit or discipline, but the Exploring Science & Medicine Through Art & Literature in Italy program creates a transdisciplinary experience with faculty from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Health Solutions.
Faculty directors Mark Lussier in the Department of English and Alison Essary in the School for the Science of Health Care Delivery will transcend traditional boundaries to facilitate historical perspectives on science, medicine and art in Florence, Italy.
“Lussier and I are most excited about hosting this new and innovative program,” said Essary. “Students will have the opportunity to learn from faculty and with students outside of their discipline, and in a location that provides a rich learning environment.”
The program is tailored to fit the individual needs of every student. For example, students interested in health and health care can refine their observational skills through the critical examination of art.
“Critical reflections of these experiences can assist students in their approach to challenging or difficult scenarios, which may help cultivate characteristics consistent with humanistic, empathetic health care professionals,” Essary said.
Outside the classroom, students will get a glimpse of the most famous museums in the world, including Museo Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci Museum, La Specola Museum, Accademia Gallery and the Museo Di Palazzo Poggi Anatomy and Obstetrics Collection in Bologna.
“Students will gain an appreciation for the intersection between arts, science, medicine and literature,” said Essary. “They will hone their ability to compare forms of knowledge and cultivate the abilities operated beyond the standard zone of comfort.”
Regardless of where students decide to study abroad, they will experience the wonder of being an outsider and their lives remain forever changed upon returning home.
“After realizing my passion for travel and living abroad, I decided I needed a marketable skill to make those dreams come true,” said Harrington, a study abroad participant. “I added another major and am considering joining the Peace Corps. These thoughts and desires were always a part of me, but studying abroad helped bring them to the surface and shape my future plans and career.”
ASU students can participate in a multitude of program options ranging from one week to one year and everything in between. All study abroad programs provide students with ASU credit, and students can use their financial aid and scholarships to fund their experience. Learn more about program options and opportunities at the ASU Study Abroad website.
Top photo: Paul LePore (back right), associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, takes a photo with student participants in the 2016 Comparative Education in Finland and Sweden study abroad program.