Fresh@News: More and more students seem to study abroad at some point. What are some of the benefits of studying abroad? Is this something parents and students should start discussing?
Mr. Kenney: It’s never too soon for students and students to start talking about international study. Through the Office of International Studies (OIS), We have over 800 students studying abroad this academic year. The immediate benefits of international education can be academic, such as studying a new field or enhancing your language learning in a new way. Those benefits also can be professional, especially given the number of students we’ve seen participating in international internships. In the long term, though, the most important benefits are personal. Study abroad makes students more confident, more empathetic to other cultures, and more aware of world events. They become more conscious of career options and career goals, more willing to take challenges and, for these reasons, more attractive to employers. In short, study abroad makes students (what the Harvard Business Review calls) ‘culturally intelligent.’
Fresh@News: Which of these programs should current freshmen be thinking
Mr. Kenney: There are a few different possibilities. Many freshmen go on one
of our summer programs, so let’s start there. Villanova has sixteen
summer programs. These programs include intensive language, literature, and
culture programs (Spanish, French, Italian, German) and also area studies
programs (Latin America, Ireland, Russia.) We also offer international business
programs which are based in Chile, China, England, Italy, Germany, Poland, or
Spain. Other programs focus on a specific discipline (rhetoric and performance
in Greece, art history in
Fresh@News: What about the programs for fall and spring? When should first year students start thinking about them?
Mr. Kenney: We’ve all heard about the idea of a “junior year abroad” and it is still true that many students go overseas in their junior year. However, more and more students are finding this difficult, usually because of degree requirements. Both the School of Business and the College of Nursing have special programs allowing sophomores to study overseas, and first semester seniors can now study abroad as well. Overseas study is sometimes more complicated for Engineering students, given the strictness of their curriculum, but with enough advanced planning and preparation it is possible for them to study overseas for a semester as well. Business and Engineering students who are considering going overseas for a semester in their sophomore year should come into our office right away. Nursing students should consult with the Office of the Dean of Nursing. Though students who are thinking about going overseas during their junior year can wait until sophomore year to start the process, the sooner we meet with them the sooner we can begin academic advising.
Fresh@News: What kind of programs does Villanova offer during the academic
Mr. Kenney: Villanova University basically has three types of programs.
“Traditional” programs allow students to enroll in overseas
universities to take classes with students from that country. Villanova is
affiliated with many programs of this type, and this year alone VU students are
Finally, Villanova University has its own study abroad programs. There are the Villanova University Study Center at the National University of Ireland, Galway and the Università degli Studi di Urbino, Italy. Villanova students get to live and study with local students while participating in a program designed just for them. Villanova’s Resident Directors organize study tours, oversee orientation and registration, and direct the students in special research projects. Given the long history of connections between Villanova and both Galway and Urbino, these programs have been especially popular. Two other Villanova-specific programs are in London and Melbourne. Both give students the chance to take a fifth course that further immerses them in the local culture. In London, that class is a semester-long course on service-learning in the British context, taught by a faculty member from the London School of Economics. In Melbourne, that class is a pre-semester course on issues of Australian multiculturalism that incorporates ethnographic research. These programs reflect a commitment to the university’s belief in the value of studying abroad that also allow us to maintain greater levels of quality control.
Fresh@News: What is the actual application process?
Mr. Kenney: There is a three step process for students. First, students
complete an online initial application form and register for an information
session. Both of these steps can be completed at the OIS homepage, http://www.villanova.edu/vpaa/intlstudies.
At the information session, OIS staff members review the necessary academic components,
discuss relevant policies, and show students how to research programs. After
researching the options, students can schedule an individual appointment with
the Office of International Studies. These individual meetings
Fresh@News: How much does it cost to study abroad?
Mr. Kenney: Students studying overseas for a semester pay Villanova
University tuition, regardless of program or location. All other non-tuition
costs (housing, orientation, etc.)
A variety of scholarships are available for students studying overseas. Some
of these scholarships are offered by Villanova University for Honors students
or students studying in ‘nontraditional’
Finally, the summer programs vary in cost. The most up-to-date information on program costs can be found at the program’s webpage.
Fresh@News: What kind of support does the University provide to students who are abroad?
Mr. Kenney: Villanova University is very selective about the programs or universities with which it affiliates. These programs are the best support for students when they are ‘on the ground.’ Our role once students are overseas is one of international troubleshooting: advice on health and safety, course approvals and scheduling, culture shock, etc. In the event of emergencies, students not only have 24-hour/day resources available to them on-site, but also have the ability to contact staff here regardless of the time.
Fresh@News: Given the current situation in the US, are there any concerns about the safety of our students when they go abroad?
Mr. Kenney: Both the Office of International Studies and the field of
international education as a whole have been very conscious of safety issues
given recent events. We have no reason to believe that students are in greater
danger because they are overseas than if they stayed here in the U.S. The
University is very select about which programs it approves, and these few
Most importantly, though, students are fully briefed on health and safety
issues both in individual meetings and at the mandatory pre-departure
orientation. The Office of International Studies stays in regular contact with
the State Department, the Overseas Security Advisory Council, the sending
institutions, and professionals in the host countries. Both as a university and
a representative of
Fresh@News: How are the students when they return?
Mr. Kenney: Self-confident, independent, energized. Most are anxious to go
back, and ready to tell friends and family how much they have changed for the
better. Some have difficulties readjusting to the United States, but we have
the opportunity to talk to them about these issues at our
Fresh@News: Do you have any advice for parents?
Mr. Kenney: Parents are the most powerful advocates for international education. The first piece of advice I would have for parents is to encourage your student to study abroad. We’ve already mentioned some of the positive aspects of studying overseas. The benefits to the student—professionally, academically, personally—are staggering.
Second, encourage your student to be in contact with the Office of
International Studies and Overseas Programs. ‘Word of mouth’ and
‘a friend told me…’ are often detrimental when beginning the
process of finding an overseas program. This Office should be the starting
Encourage students to think of their study abroad opportunities within the parameters of their needs. Some of the questions they should ask are: “What program will help me to develop a skill relevant to my major/minor/career plans/interests? In which program will I learn the most and become more fully immersed in another culture? Which programs allow me learning opportunities both in and out of the classroom?” Remember, the study abroad experience is an extension of, not a break from, your student’s Villanova education.
Along these same lines, don’t underestimate the learning potential for just the application process itself. Students need to “own” this process, as it is perhaps one of the most life-changing experiences of their academic careers. As much as we as parents want to help our children—in their decision-making processes, in their establishment of goals and aspirations, even in their workloads—study abroad must be an opportunity for students to develop their independence. Empower your student to see this process all the way through and use them as your primary resource for all the questions that YOU have. It will better prepare them for the elation and anxiety that comes with living in another culture!
An excellent resource for these subjects and others is Study Abroad: A
Parent’s Guide, written by
Director of New Student Orientation,
Assistant for Special Projects
207 Dougherty Hall