Learning from the World: Study abroad with UWT

Traveling internationally provides many opportunities and exposure to different cultures and ideas that may break one’s existing perception of the world. Studying abroad can benefit students’ university experience by broadening their horizons and give them different learning chances that they may not receive in a traditional classroom setting. 

At UW Tacoma, Business Management Professor Evy Shankus and Assistant Chancellor for Strategy and Assessment Joe Lawless recently led the study abroad program for the Netherlands Fall 2019 trip with 21 business students in attendance. When interviewed in Amsterdam, Lawless responded that he believes strongly in these experiential learning opportunities as they “imprint differently.” 

“In general, why I believe it [study abroad is beneficial to learning] is because I grew up my whole world was in a 5 mile radius,” Lawless said. As he recalled, the first time he traveled out of country for an academic conference, going to England through the double deck tower and reaching the catacombs. “[Then] it struck me. The power of how diverse our world is. I started crying. It just hit me.” 

He chose to lead the study abroad program because he wanted to give students the traveling experience earlier in their lives than what he was offered. 

Business Administration major Elizabeth Panameno — who attended the Netherlands study —  gave this advice to potential students about wanting to join any study abroad programs. 

“If you are really interested in learning and being out there — even if money’s a barrier — don’t let that stop you.”

While studying abroad may seem unfeasible to some, UWT provides many resources that ease the process and provide opportunities to a large number of students. For students who are worried about how their financial wellness may be affected by attending study abroad programs, the Office of Global Affairs and the Office of Student Financial Aid both work with students to find the best solution. Students will find that there are many options to pay for study abroad programs’ tuition and fees, such as VA benefits, loan opportunities, financial aid and need-based scholarships.

Disabled students are also well accommodated by UWT’s Student Office for Disability Resources, as well as Mobility International U.S.A. Additionally, others may consider anxiety and stress as a barrier, but this too can be accommodated. Accounting major Crystal Deran, believes their trip to the Netherlands was much more successful than their past trips.

“Compared to my high school program, you guys [UWT] seem really conscious about our mental states, letting us know which numbers to call if we are in a crisis or low point,” Deran said. “That there are resources if we need to ask for help.”

Study abroad programs at UW present a variety of options, usually spanning from ten days to one year. There are faculty-led programs, internships abroad, university exchange, UW Partner programs and their affiliated programs. Students can find available programs by going to the Office of Global Affairs’ info sessions, attending study abroad fairs or checking online under the “Study Abroad” section of the UWT website.

On the website, students can also find webinars and apply to each location that interests them. For the application, it requires the students’ basic personal information, academic information, a letter of recommendation and scholarship eligibility. Students should be prepared for three essay prompts including why they believe the program to be a good fit, their adaptability in new environment and how they function in terms of group dynamics. 

Ho Hin Ng, Business and Finance major, encourages students who may have worries to apply.“When signing up for a study abroad, just be interested. Try and go out and experience as much as you can as much as you can, ‘cause chances like that won’t happen that much in your career,” Ng said.  “Doing it early can benefit your career a lot.” 

When asked about the application process, each student on the Netherlands trip, agreed that it was a pretty easy and straightforward process.

“It has opened my eyes to different cultures, within that I have seen different norms,” David Mulliex, Business Management major said. ”By that, I mean what is different in the U.S is different in the Netherlands, is different in Irelands, is different in Scotland, and so on. I think it also matures you a little bit. I came with just a backpack. I needed to go into survival mode and pack the essentials”

When Lawless was asked what kind of students studying abroad would benefit, he responded: “Everyone, it would benefit everyone, but not everyone knows that.”