Nursing student Casey Escamilla’s fall, 2009 semester began much like any other, except for one detail.
She planned her course schedule, purchased her books, and made sure her student account was in order.
Then, she headed to the airport.
As a participant in UIW’s Study Abroad program, she traveled to Rome, to study at John Cabot University.
Escamilla, a sophomore nursing major, thought it would be difficult to pursue a study abroad opportunity, given the stringent science prerequisites of the nursing curriculum, but made it work through careful planning.
“For nursing, there are so many pre-reqs that won’t transfer, but I was able to get them out of the way in the spring,” she said.
Escamilla traveled throughout Europe during the semester, visiting Florence and Paris, and even traveling to Naples, the reputed birthplace of pizza.
Her fellow students at John Cabot included not only fellow Americans, but also other international students, adding to the cultural immersion.
The experience changed her life, she said, a common sentiment among those spending a semester abroad.
“You not only learn more about yourself, but the world,” she said. “It was surreal.”
Uriel Mejia, a sophomore English/International Studies major from Brownsville, agrees.
Mejia and History/Political Science major Sarah Simister traveled to Korea’s Chosun University this spring, to help teach English to Korean students.
Part of an international group visiting Chosun U., the two joined Vietnamese and Japanese students in working with the Korean hosts, affording them the opportunity to experience several cultures.
“It opens your eyes, in that yours is not the only culture,” Mejia said. “If you read about the culture in a text book, you might learn a little about it, but to experience it is a whole different matter.”
UIW Study Abroad Coordinator Alanna Taylor said that any student, from any major, is able to study abroad, with proper preparation.
“It does require a little more advance planning for science-heavy majors, like nutrition, nursing, or pre-pharmacy,” she said. Ideally, she hears from students interested in going abroad at least one semester in advance.
Requirements for undergraduates include at least one semester at UIW be completed before a study abroad application is made, and a 2.4 overall grade point average.
When students study at a UIW Sister School, tuition is paid to UIW, and course credit is accrued just as if the student were studying on the main campus.
Financial assistance remains the same, as well, with students receiving the same scholarships and grants, Taylor said, as long as they continue to meet the academic requirements for the awards.