Study abroad programs expand Iowa State’s international reach

Growing participation in study abroad opportunities is helping Iowa State University expand its international reach.

The number of College of Human Sciences students who study abroad has grown 142 percent in the past five years, from 109 students in the 2009-10 academic year to 264 in 2013-14.

“Our numbers are doubling,” said Catie Funk, administrative specialist for the college’s international programs. “That speaks to high student interest and where we want to go with our programs.”

More than 1,740 College of Human Sciences students have studied abroad in the last decade, Funk said.

Launching new programs

Since formation of the college from longstanding programs in 2005, the college has helped launch many new study abroad programs in Brazil, Chile, China, Ghana, India, South Africa, South Korea, and Spain. College of Human Sciences students have studied abroad in 48 countries and six continents.

The growing list of options includes the first cultural exchange program between the college and Soonchunhyang University in South Korea.

Ariana Seaman, a senior in event management, spent two semesters at Soonchunhyang University, where she participated in a cultural exchange program designed to help South Koreans and visiting international students learn more about one another’s culture and language.

All students benefit from getting to know and understand an unfamiliar culture, Seaman said.

“No matter what field you’re in, you’re going to work with people from other cultures,” she said. “The more knowledge and awareness of other cultures you have, the easier it will be.”

A variety of options

The College of Human Sciences offers study abroad opportunities for students in all disciplines. For example, those majoring in education can complete their student-teaching requirements in countries such as Ecuador, Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Spain, or Taiwan.

Each study abroad program is individually tailored to provide an educational background as well as practical experience. Some programs include a service learning component to give back to the host community, Funk said.

Seaman attributes the growing interest in international study to the increasing number of encounters Iowa State students have with other cultures, from trying new cuisine to making international friends on campus. She’s glad that the College of Human Sciences encourages and supports studying abroad.

“They do a really good job of promoting international study and the resources they have available,” she said.