ABERDEEN, S.D. – More Northern State University students studied abroad this summer than ever before, and NSU continues to work to expand its global educational opportunities.
NSU Study Abroad Coordinator Liz Hannum
said 64 students studied in foreign countries this summer. Last summer, that number was 43 students.
This summer’s numbers included:
• 24 who traveled to Ireland and Northern Ireland with faculty members Erin Fouberg and Pen Pearson.
• 26 who traveled to England and France with faculty members Elizabeth Haller and Casey Black.
• Seven in Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea, one of Northern’s exchange partner institutions. NSU business faculty member John Peterson taught there for the third summer in a row.
• Six in Chile for an intensive Spanish language program at the Universidad Mayor in Santiago, another exchange partner institution.
• One in Magdeburg-Stendal University in Germany, another exchange partner institution, for an intensive German language program.
‘Dream come true’
Alex Buhl-Manning, an international business major who will graduate in December, studied in Amiens, France, Jan. 27-May 28, and then in Magdeburg, Germany, June 1-21.
“I have wanted to study abroad since I was a freshman in high school, so this was a dream come true for me,” said Buhl-Manning, an international business major who will graduate in December.
He said he can’t name a highlight of his time abroad – the entire trip was a highlight.
“I was just so excited to have been there and living in a foreign country that it was all so amazing,” said Buhl-Manning, a native of Parkers Prairie, Minn. “However, meeting the people that I did there was truly amazing for me.”
On the Irish trip, Fouberg and Pearson led students to numerous destinations, such as the Cliffs of Moher, and even spent the night in a castle in Sligo. Highlights included learning a little bit of the Irish language from their bus driver, and also learning to appreciate the difference in culture.
“Being in Ireland helped everyone on our trip slow down,” said Fouberg, professor of geography. “Students noticed the Irish do not eat with their cell phones on the table, and they tried to put their phones away, too. The Irish are positive people who find the best in any situation. That attitude was contagious within our group.”
Prioritizing study abroad
Hannum said Northern’s increase in study abroad numbers can be attributed to leadership that emphasizes international study. President James Smith and Dr. Connie Ruhl-Smith, director of international programs/director of special initiatives, have made study abroad a priority, she said.
“They put a really heavy focus on internationalization,” said Hannum, who is also coordinator of the NSU Center for Excellence in International Business and Entrepreneurship.
The Smiths have even incentivized it, she said, offering $1,000 stipends to help with students’ travel costs. They also brought aboard Hannum, who embodies the importance of global study.
“I have a real passion for international travel,” she said.
A native of the Boston area, Hannum started traveling the world when she was in seventh grade and hasn’t stopped – she’s visited 70 countries so far, covering all of Europe, a lot of Asia and parts of Africa.
Now at Northern, Hannum has been working to get the word out about NSU’s study abroad options as well as to increase those options. Her office is focused on finding new partnerships and planning new study destinations.
Hannum would like to get more partnerships with European institutions, and is working on one such partnership with a school in Scotland (fittingly, in Aberdeen). She is also working on possible sites in Spain and Ecuador, and NSU is in the process of signing an agreement with a Japanese school. She has contacts in Kenya and Nicaragua and is considering Brazil or Peru.
She also hopes to increase the number of faculty-led trips to different, unique destinations. Upcoming possible trips include Vietnam; China; India; Israel; Costa Rica; Germany and the Czech Republic; and Finland and Norway.
Next year’s schedule already includes a trip to the Bahamas with Dr. Alyssa Anderson, and a trip to England and Ireland. Hannum herself is planning to lead a spring 2015 trip to Thailand. She and NSU Student Activities Director Clayton Kolb are also collaborating on a spring 2015 service learning trip that would likely be to a South American country.
Study abroad benefits
For students considering studying abroad, Hannum pointed out that studies have shown career-related benefits. Students who study abroad on average make more money out of school, she said, and they are 35 percent more likely to get a job one year outside of college. The reasons: These students are more self-reliant; they are used to being in different kinds of environments, an asset that translates into the business culture; and they gain flexibility and adaptive skills that employers are seeking.
Buhl-Manning’s trips were exchange programs, so he was on his own the entire time. When traveling alone, he said, you have to learn to get out of your shell and meet people. His advice to others: “Don’t be afraid to try new things… and definitely don’t be afraid to fail repeatedly.”
His biggest challenge was the language barrier, and he failed many times when trying to ask for something he needed. But, he said, there are always ways to get what you want and what you need.
“You learn so much about yourself when you are studying abroad,” he said.
Faculty-led trips are also valuable for students.
“Short-term study abroad opens students’ eyes to the larger world and teaches them to engage with all different kinds of people and embrace new experiences while at the same time feeling safe and taken care of by the faculty on the trip,” said Fouberg, who is also director of the NSU Honors Program.
Hannum said students who study abroad learn more flexibility. It gets them out of their comfort zone and provides them different opportunities.
“The experience changes people,” she said.
To learn more about study abroad opportunities at NSU, visit the Study Abroad
Top photo: NSU Alex Buhl-Manning studied abroad in France this spring and Germany this summer. Here, he is pictured (seated, in the middle) with a friend from his university in France as well as some Canadian students they met when traveling in Pula, Croatia.
Bottom photo: Pictured is the group from the Northern State University summer 2014 study abroad trip. Front row, from left: Eleni Aman (’16), Courtney Woods (’15), Danielle Weisz (’14), Hillary Sward (’15), Stacey Petit. Second row: Dr. Pen Pearson, Dr. Erin Fouberg, Liz Patton, Kendra Patton (’17), Dr. Sharon Paranto (’71), Mallory McDonald (’16), Russ Maher, Debbie Ast, Dave Ast. Back row: Susan Evans, Phil Hoyt (’16), Mattie Hoyle (’16), Dr. Nancy Higginson (former NSU instructor), Brett Martin (’15), Tom Ast, Marilyn Ast (former NSU student), Alice Maher, Loretta Koch (former NSU student), Joan Sturm, John Sturm.