Major changes regarding staffing, scholarship assistance, and pre-departure courses are underway in the Global Education office. These changes are intended to positively impact students who will be studying abroad soon.
Studying abroad at Goucher College is required, making it 100% essential to both general credits and gaining global experience. To start the process, students must go to the Office of Global Education (OGE) to attend Study Abroad 101 – an information session intended to educate students on OGE’s resources and study abroad options, as well as complete the application.
However, many students do not know where to begin or who to go to for help since the departure of study abroad advisor Bill Funk in fall of 2022. Students have reported a mixture of experiences with OGE, with their study abroad being either positive or negative.
The study abroad process is typically very independent. You do your own research on what programs work with your major, the places you want to go, and what you need to bring. Goucher’s study abroad website has links for where to find programs and advice for parents and faculty.
Janine Sande ‘23 studied in Sevilla, Spain at the University of Sevilla during this past fall semester. Sande explained that she did not talk to the staff about the programs after doing her own research, but she did go to them, specifically Bill Funk, to get help on completing the paperwork.
On December 21, 2022, an email from the Office of Global Education was sent out that Bill Funk was no longer a study abroad coordinator. Dr. Luchen Li, associate Vice President of Global Education left a few weeks ago. The college gave no explanation for their departures.
Despite those two departures, Hyemee Kim, a Study Abroad and International Student Support Assistant, and Yin Star, the Director of Education Abroad, have been getting positive feedback. Kim and Star are kind to students and quick to respond to emails, students said.
“Kim has been super helpful. There were times where I may have asked dumb questions, but she turned them into a fun conversation and was responsive when it came to helping me out,” Eliza Abady ‘25 said.
Star said she will be opening more Intensive Courses Abroad (ICA) programs. ICA programs are shorter than semester-long programs, benefiting students who might not be able to study abroad for an entire semester. Many of them are led by faculty members and the spots are filled by other Goucher students.
Star said that OGE is looking to add a program coordinator and a student-abroad advisor for all students.
To help students with applying for scholarships for study abroad, Star will hold Benjamin Gillman and Fulbright U.S. student program writing workshops. However, the Benjamin Gillman scholarship is for students who are on the Federal Pell Grant, and the Fulbright U.S. student program is done in students’ senior year.
Yin Star and Hyemee Kim have positively improved the experiences of students, but there are still some areas where students would like to see adjustments.
Before the advising process, students are required to complete Study Abroad 101 and 102. 101 covers information on the programs available, how to apply, organize financial matters, and academic credits. 102 looks at the more specific information about the program a student is interested in.
But, according to Sande and Abady, 101 and 102 are very similar. The classes and the PowerPoints used in the classes were repetitive and did not cover certain important information, such as cell service and courses abroad.
“Study Abroad 102 is redundant; I do not think it is needed,” Yin Star said.
Sande also expressed her difficulties with taking courses abroad. She explained how difficult it was to get signatures done on time and did not know which faculty to go to. When she arrived in Sevilla, Spain, she found out she had a time conflict with classes and had to switch classes, resulting in her taking courses that were not approved by the Goucher faculty.
Another issue that was mentioned by Sande was the cell service. Before she arrived in Spain, she called her cell provider, AT&T, to see if they had an international plan. It never occurred to her to ask them if her phone would be blocked or unblocked from the company. She had to go to Vodafone to get a prepaid sim card, which didn’t work with her US phone because it was blocked by AT&T, so she had to purchase a whole phone entirely.
“I wish that the Global Education Office reinforced that class courses had to be re-approved when rearranging schedules and checking to see if our phones are blocked or not,” Sande said.
By Shelby Meek ‘25