More Than 60 USC Upstate Students Plan to Study Abroad This Summer

May 17, 2017 at 12:52 pm

USC Upstate students in Alicante, Spain, for a summer Study Abroad session.

Oh, the lazy, hazy days of summer when students return home from the rigors of school life to reunite with family and friends, maybe take on a summer job – or maybe travel abroad.

Some 62 globe-trotting University of South Carolina Upstate students are outward bound this summer, traveling to study assignments in such far-flung and disparate countries as Spain, Italy, South Africa – even China.

Sitting in a small conference room in the Burroughs Building on the USC Upstate campus, Dr. Alex Akulli, director of the Center for International Studies, recently outlined the big advantages of studying abroad.

“What the students learn and acquire from international engagement is something that cannot be replicated in any kind of simulation on campus,” Akulli said. “They develop intercultural skills and competencies. It is not only what they learn – the subject matter — because they can learn that anywhere. It is what they learn experientially from interacting with people from other cultures.”

The lineup of summer trips is almost as diverse as the list of destinations. According to Akulli, the University is supporting faculty-led service-learning programs for nursing students to South Africa and Ecuador, in addition to faculty-led programs in other disciplines that will take students to Alicante, Spain, and Milan, Italy. Ten students plan to participate in the annual Youth Theatre Program in England, while another three study at Kinston University in London, which has a partnership with USC Upstate. And while three students will study Spanish at the University of Costa Rica, another three will teach English to Chinese students in China, through the University’s partnership with the Chinese Culture and Education Center.

In addition to the subject matter, students who take advantage of opportunities to travel abroad learn the valuable skill of “people-to-people diplomacy,” which will serve them well beyond their days at USC Upstate, Akulli said.

USC Upstate students in Alicante, Spain, summer program.

“Students learn to navigate diverse communities, diverse cultures, which then gives them a skill that they bring to current and future prospective employers, in addition to enriching their own lives, their own families, and enriching their own communities,” he said. “At a government level, this functions like people-to-people diplomacy. At the business level, this becomes an asset, a resource (that) companies in our international environment value heavily because these people have a better sense of how to interact with people from other cultures.”

There are several types of programs, Akulli said, including semester- and year-abroad programs; short-term faculty-led programs; direct enrolment programs; and dual-degree programs. While study abroad isn’t cheap – the estimated price tags for this summer’s trips range from $1,900 to more than $6,000 — Akulli noted that some of the semester-long study programs are made more affordable because students pay for the coursework through USC Upstate, in essence, paying USC Upstate tuition while studying abroad.

“There are a variety of funding opportunities, so in addition to the travel grants that the University program has, there are also government-funded grants by the U.S. Department of State, as well as foreign governments and private organizations such as Rotary International,” Akulli said.

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