How to Study Abroad in the Sciences
November 18, 2019
This week is International Education Week, a time to learn about the different ways students can study abroad and expand their cultural awareness. Chapman’s Center for Global Education (CGE) offers a myriad of opportunities that range from single travel courses to full semesters (or years!) abroad. For our science students, studying abroad can seem like an impossible venture, considering all the mandatory credits for graduation. However, with appropriate planning and creative solutions, it is possible for anyone to take advantage of international education.
Going Abroad for a Semester
My name is Monroe Roush and I am a junior Environmental Science and Policy major. Last spring, I studied abroad in Granada, Spain, and it was a life-changing experience! While I was in Spain, I lived with a host family, took classes in Spanish, and volunteered with a local aid organization. Apart from school, I had the opportunity to travel to Morocco, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, and to other cities and towns in Spain. Academically, I focused on my minor (political science) as well as my policy electives for my major. An entire semester abroad (excluding the Washington D.C. exchange programs) also fulfills all six of the global citizenship credit requirements and counts as an Honors program class, so I ended up gaining 18 credits toward graduation while I was in Europe. My biggest piece of advice for STEM students would be to plan studying abroad carefully. It is absolutely possible to spend an entire semester abroad, especially if one has general education or minor classes they can focus on.
Travel courses are another great way for STEM students to realize international opportunities without going abroad for an entire semester. The CGE offers travel courses every interterm and summer, ranging from “A Tale of Two Cities” course in London and Paris to an adventure in the Galapagos Islands. These courses can be a great way to fill general education requirements, earn elective credits, or work on a minor/cluster. Sarah Yang (Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, 2022) took advantage of a travel course to finish her language requirement. She took Chinese 102 over Interterm in 2019, and decided she wanted to go to Taiwan during the summer to continue learning about Chinese with Chapman and fulfill her language requirement. She was able to fit the course into her schedule easily, and says, “It wasn’t too difficult to fit in this travel course since it is only three weeks during the summer. Once I got back, I still had time to take 2 online summer courses before the fall semester started. As a science student, I think I went at the perfect time because I was only a freshman and not qualified for many internships over the summer yet… I was one of the few science students on the trip and most other students were shocked that science majors actually took time out of our busy schedules to go on a trip like that.” She also took advantage of the one-time tuition waiver the CGE offers for students taking travel courses. While this waiver does NOT cover the cost of the trip, it does cover the cost of the academic credits.
Finally, international internships are a way for students to gain work experience and international education simultaneously. These are also offered through the CGE. Jenny Gritton (Environmental Science and Policy, 2019) had the opportunity to go to New Zealand during the summer of 2018 and intern with the New Zealand Green Building Council. Read more about her experience here.
International education is an amazing way for students to experience the world and learn about new perspectives. STEM students should meet with their academic advisors to learn about how studying abroad can fit into their four-year plan, and then head to the CGE (576 N. Glassell) to set up an introductory appointment (click here for the CGE website and first steps). Remember, studying abroad for a semester requires planning through the CGE at least one year in advance of the program!
Cover photo: Laurel Tamayo who studied at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Learn more about her experience here >>