FAU encourages students to participate in Study Abroad Program

The application for the program is open for all students, with group advising available until December.

Giovanna Brigo Cardoso, Contributing Writer

Education Abroad is part of Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Global Engagement, which supports the university’s international initiatives by coordinating long and short-term study abroad programs. 

The application for the Study Abroad Program is open for all students. Group advising is available until December, then after their group appointments, students can make individual appointments with a Study Abroad adviser. 

There are plenty of program options students can choose from. According to Associate Director Brendan Richardson, faculty-led programs can last from one to six weeks, while the exchange programs, direct enroll programs, and third-party programs vary from four weeks to five months, depending on the option.

Richardson said the programs can have different steps, but to apply, it is always recommended students take the advising session the Education Abroad office provides, and make an individual appointment to discuss the next steps of the application afterwards. However, if the student wants to participate in a faculty-led program, the student must contact the faculty leader for more information. 

Students are always concerned about their obligations, which can be one of the barriers to doing the program, but Richardson said it should not be an excuse. Some programs run year-round. The exchanges are typically a semester, so students can go in the fall or spring semesters. The direct enrolls can also be during fall or spring, sometimes even summer. 

Third-party programs operate year round because they are independent and facilitate all the programming for students. The faculty-led programs typically run in the summer about 90% to 95% of the time, according to Richardson. 

“For example, if a student has obligations in the later half summer semester, July to August, they can go in May or June and still come back in time,” said Richardson. 

FAU provides direct affiliations and exchange agreements with various countries such as Ecuador, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Australia, and Germany. However, students can go anywhere as long as it is safe for them to go. 

Experiences with the Program

Viviana Hernandez, an FAU alumna, went to Sydney, Australia, and studied primary education at University of Technology Sydney during the fall semester of 2018. 

Tatiana Nabosse, a senior, went to London, England, and studied sports science at St. Mary’s University during the fall semester of 2019. 

Both complimented how students and professors were welcoming and helpful throughout the program.

Courtesy of Viviana Hernandez

Hernandez said her favorite class was the Indigenous Australian Education because people in America don’t hear about Indigenous culture and about Aboriginal groups. 

“For example, the way we view [English as a Second Language] kids here in America is kind of the way they view Indigenous students, so they have to follow certain guidelines,” said Hernandez. “One big thing that I learned that stuck with me was that Aboriginal/Indigenous kids won’t make eye contact with adults when an adult is speaking to them because it is considered rude, so when teachers see that happening, they can’t get upset about that because it is part of their culture.” 

The chance for students to know the culture and country where they are staying is a benefit. As a bonus, they can travel to other countries while doing the program. 

Throughout the program, Hernandez traveled around Australia on the weekends and during her student vacations. She also went to Bali, Indonesia, during her spring break for a week and a half. To add even more exposure to different cultures, her roommates were from different countries, such as Norway, Sweden, China, Spain, and Germany. In her opinion, those were “the highlight” of her college time.  

Nabosse almost did a tour across Europe. During the weekends, she visited countries such as France, the Netherlands, Spain, and the Czech Republic. Her positive points about the program involved meeting new people, getting to know new cultures, and breaking out of her comfort zone. 

Affording the Program

Richardson said students do not have to worry about being able to afford the program, explaining the financial aid options available to them.

“There are lots of study abroad scholarships available for students. That is something that we encourage every student to apply for, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria,” said Richardson. “There are some departmental scholarships, so for example, there could be some within the College of Business, within the College of Engineering, or [College of] Arts and [College of] Sciences.” 

For students looking for federal financial aid, they can also apply it to the program. 

Courtesy of Tatiana Nabosse

“If a student completes the FAFSA form, they could be eligible for study abroad,” Richardson explained further. “First, it is recommended that students always consult with the Financial Aid office to make sure that the aid that they receive can be used on study abroad, and more specifically, the amount that can be put towards a study abroad program.” 

Bright Futures, Florida PrePaid, and any scholarships that are administered or awarded through FAU can be applied for a faculty-led or exchange program, but it can have some restrictions, so it is always recommended to contact the Financial Aid Office. 

For Hernandez, even if the financials were a problem, she had good support from FAU’s financial aid office. To have extra money before leaving for Australia, she saved money, worked hard and made a GoFundMe page for her friends and family to donate.

“For the exchange program, I was able to use Financial Aid, and I was able to pay my tuition as FAU tuition, so my classes were all being paid at FAU’s rate,” Hernandez said. 

Nabosse also had good support from FAU. However, it got difficult for her.

“I think it might have been confusing because I was going to a third party program, so it was complicated to release my funds,” Nabosse said. “That’s when it got stressful, but I can’t speak for anyone that goes through this kind of program.” 

Despite this, everything worked out well for her in the end. 

Advice for Interested Students

Students usually ask for advice every time they are trying something new, and Nabosse shared valuable tips regarding the program, especially on keeping an open mind. 

“A big mistake a lot of people make is just sticking with the other Americans, you are in another country, so make friendships with international students because you will have [the] rest of your college career to make friends with American students,” Nabosse said.

The program can impact students in various ways. Richardson was in college studying sport management to become a sports agent before taking the program. 

“I studied abroad when I was in college, both as an undergraduate and graduate student, and it completely impacted my career trajectory. I abandoned sports and went into study abroad as a full time career,” Richardson said. “It is an invaluable experience I think every student should be able to go through. It really does allow you to automatically shift what you had planned to do and do something completely different.”

Nabosse said students should take the program so they can gain a perspective of people who live in other countries. 

“I think especially if you choose another country besides England or Australia, where you have to speak another language, I think that is an awesome opportunity to immerse yourself to learn the language besides textbooks, where they teach the super proper ways to be, but you will learn how the locals speak,” Nabosse said.

Giovanna Brigo Cardoso is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information on this article or others, you can reach Giovanna at [email protected]