Back in college I never had the opportunity to study abroad. My strict soccer schedule paired with a strategically planned academic course load never lent itself to the novelty of traveling and living in another country for a semester, let alone a year. As my friends shipped off for England and Spain, I envied their photographs, travels and adventures. My friends were riding camels through the deserts of Morocco as I was writing my papers in the January permafrost of Kansas. I thought studying abroad was just to provide the student with opportunities to explore and adventure, but I learned this summer that it offers so much more than that.
Last March I was accepted to a program through George Washington University to travel to Germany. The International Education Program offered me the chance to conduct authentic research in education through an intensive 12-day case study. I was able to interview college professors, teachers, members of government and private/public sector employees. Everyone we met was filled with knowledge on higher education, educational opportunities in Germany, and much more.
In this class, I was one of the only students who had not studied abroad during undergrad and who had never been to Europe. I sat back and listened to my classmates as they questioned German officials on their study abroad program and involvement in Erasmus+. I quickly realized that Germany views study abroad differently than I previously did. They don’t see study abroad as just a chance for the individual to explore and adventure. To them, it is a much richer opportunity than that.
I now understand why Germany chooses to invest and send a large percentage of students abroad to study. Germany uses the study abroad platform to encourage students to continue to build relationships. In return, they bring in students from all over the world to attend German institutions for free. If these students don’t stay and work in Germany after graduation, their economy actually loses money.Read More