With Ohio University’s study abroad enrollment having quadrupled since 1991 and more than 900 students going abroad each year, some advisors can expect to be asked for information on international travel and study. Cornelia Perdreau, director of the Office of Education Abroad (OEA), recommended that advisors encourage students to get in touch with her office, located in 107 Gordy Hall, where they can receive information about financial aid, credit transfers and insurance.
Students who study abroad can earn two types of credit: direct and transfer, said Joyce Pae, senior assistant director of admissions.
Students can earn direct credit if they take a class offered by Ohio. "You’re taking an OU course but sitting somewhere else taking it," she said, adding that these courses are usually taught by an Ohio professor. Students register for the classes as if they were registering for an on-campus course, she said.
Students can earn transfer credit through enrollment in a foreign university, a third-party provider or another university’s study abroad program, Pae said.
Students eligible for transfer credit must fill out a study abroad checklist, available at the OEA, and bring it to the Office of International Admissions, Pae said. The admissions office then checks to confirm that the university is accredited or that the provider is legitimate. To be accredited, universities usually must be recognized by the Ministry of Education, she said. If a foreign school is not accredited but another American university will transfer credits through that school, Ohio will accept credits from the American university.
When students return from studying abroad, their transcripts are sent to the OEA and then passed to admissions, where they are interpreted, Pae said. When students’ grades show up on their transcripts is dependent on when the OEA receives the transcripts from the foreign university. Because this process can take months, students are not advised to study abroad during the last quarter before they will graduate, Pae said.
Perdreau also stressed the importance of preparation, especially for students interested in scholarships. "The best thing would be to start planning early," she said.
Talking to students who have traveled abroad is a good idea, Perdreau said, adding that the OEA can sometimes provide contact information for students. "It’s always good to be in contact with students who have been through the same experience," Perdreau said.
Students should be aware of what will be expected of them in their classes, Pae said. "It’s not a bad idea to check out the system of education in another country. You need a clear sense of what the grading system is," she said. Pae also recommended that students take a lighter course load so they have a chance to travel and explore.
Some majors, such as international studies and Spanish, require students to study abroad, Perdreau said. Students in the College of Arts and Sciences can fulfill their two-year foreign language requirement by spending one quarter studying abroad, she said.
Students traveling internationally must attend a pre-departure orientation called Bobcats Abroad, Perdreau said. The program, which runs for about an hour and a half, covers issues such as the rights and responsibilities of students who are still under the Ohio Student Code of Conduct, health and safety tips, and information about theft and crime, she said. The OEA conducts several other programs for students going abroad.
"Tips for Travelers" is recommended for students who are traveling abroad for the first time, Perdreau said. The program educates students on how to receive discounts abroad and how and where to buy guidebooks and phone cards, she said.
The "Cross-Cultural Workshop" helps prepare students for life as an outsider in another country and offers tips on how to handle culture shock, Perdreau said.
A new procedure on its way to becoming a requirement registers students with the American embassy of the country in which they will be studying, Perdreau said. Students can also receive information from the Ohio International Consortium, which helps to coordinate international relationships for Ohio’s four-year public universities, Perdreau said. Third-party and international organizations are also accessible through the OIC.
Studying abroad has many benefits, Perdreau said. Academically, students have access to courses not offered at OU and gain a more global perspective of their coursework. The experience is also one that should be highlighted on résumés because it shows the participant to be independent, tolerant and a risk-taker.
Students who study abroad often experience personal growth as well, Perdreau said. "They discover themselves there. They wind up learning the most about themselves," she said. "It’s impossible to explain unless you’ve done it."