Study abroad programs offer once-in-a-lifetime global opportunities

Two people sit behind a rectangular table covered in a gold tablecloth that has the logo for ASU Study Abroad on it. The table is covered in promotional items like sunglasses, pens and brochures. The two people are wearing gold and have on face masks.

Faculty members from the School of International Letters and Cultures, in partnership with the school's advising office, recently presented details of their study abroad programs to interested students during a Study Abroad Fair as part of the weekly SILC Café event.


Students hoping to study abroad this summer recently submitted their applications and will soon be learning whether they have been selected to expand their language and culture learning with one of Arizona State University's many global experiences.

Study abroad is especially popular among students in the School of International Letters and Cultures because these programs allow them to directly apply and expand their foreign language skills in communities of native speakers of those languages. Students also get to experience firsthand the cultures they learn about in their courses, from trying different foods to celebrating new holidays to exploring historical sites to viewing traditional art and performances. For some, initial study abroad experiences during undergraduate studies lead to future international fellowships and careers, along with a lifelong passion for traveling the world.

Among the school's faculty-directed programs being offered this summer are French Language and Culture in Lyon; Italian Language and Culture in Recanati; and Science and Society: Geologic Hazards and Food Culture in Sicily. Students earn several credits toward their degrees. Programs are typically four weeks long and include accommodations, tuition and visits to sites in the city of study and nearby locations.

Faculty members, in partnership with the school's advising office, recently presented details of their programs to interested students during a Study Abroad Fair as part of the weekly SILC Café event. Beyond the specific details of each global experience, students were also able to learn more about the various skills that study abroad fosters, including global awareness, intercultural competence, leadership, confidence and international networking.

These are all skills that Spanish major John Kole has seen develop during his semester abroad in Granada, Spain. Kole, who is also pursuing a theatre minor and Brazilian studies certificate, is enrolled in five classes that are all in Spanish and fit with his fields of study – Latin American studies and Spanish literature and culture.

“I've studied abroad before in high school and I really loved that experience and it was really formative in my growth as a person,” Kole said. “I wanted to go abroad to learn more about other cultures as well as have new experiences. … I also want to work on my Spanish because I think being bilingual helps in all aspects of life, not just careerwise.”

ASU Spanish major John Kole hikes in the mountains around Granada, Spain.

Spanish major John Kole hikes in the mountains around Granada, Spain, where he is spending the semester studying abroad. Photo courtesy John Kole

His program, Spanish Language, Culture & Electives at the University of Granada, is in partnership with International Studies Abroad, which handles the logistics of finding housing for students, enrolling them in classes and arranging local excursions.

Kole will be in Spain through the end of May. He said his favorite part of his travels so far has been getting out into nature, from hiking in the mountains around Granada to visiting nearby beaches. Before returning to the United States, he hopes to be able to explore more of the city’s nightlife, culture and restaurants away from traditional tourist sites.

“My advice to a student considering studying abroad would be to not stick extremely close to other Americans studying abroad. It's hard to have genuine cultural experiences in another country if all you are doing is hanging out with Americans, going out with Americans and speaking English,” Kole said.

Another study abroad option that will soon be available is ASU Global Flex, which offers programs in six cities: Berlin, Dublin, London, Madrid, Paris and Sydney. Students can spend anywhere from six weeks to an entire semester abroad, taking classes in their host country and online through ASU via iCourse and oCourseAn iCourse is an internet-based course that can be taken by on-ground students only. An oCourse is an internet-based course that can only be taken by students who belong to ASU Online.. They can also complete internships in some of the cities. This allows students to fulfill their degree requirements while having a once-in-a-lifetime global experience that is tailored to their interests.

Global Flex gets underway in fall 2022. The 12-week program in Madrid will put students on a path to expand their Spanish minor into a full major by taking just six additional classes, said Spanish Professor Juan Gil-Osle.

“With this program, in no time, a Spanish minor student will be able to complete a Spanish major and improve their knowledge of Spain,” Gil-Osle said.

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