Stay here to read the opinions of ubumm founders, Maryann and Emily, on study abroad in the news.
The Importance of Reaching out to Student Athletes Abroad
By Emily Salm, March 17, 2012
A recent article published by The Daily Gazzette at Swarthmore College regarding the opportunities available to athletes to study abroad struck our curiosity. How can student athletes take advantage of studying abroad while still maintaining a commitment to their team and universities? Where does a student draw the line in making decisions for academic gain versus making a choice for the team?
The more we considered the issue, the more we realized that very few opportunities are in place for student athletes that wish to study abroad and train at the same time. The decision ultimately comes down to making a compromise and determining which experience will be more valuable for the student’s future. Apart from a few intramural sports teams that may be available abroad, it is our understanding based off of our research that not many universities have considered networking with local athletic teams in order to expand their reach to their students.
Just like the study abroad industry has to consider the various ways to reach out to pre-med and other science majors, it is time that they begin brainstorming ways to reach out to the student athlete niche at most universities. Allowing a student athlete the opportunity to join a local team to train for a semester or a year in their sport is a whole different kind of cultural exchange that still has its benefits. Should the study abroad departments at universities take the time to arrange such kinds of exchange I believe that they could see an increase in interest from student athletes, similar to the increase in interest that we observed when programs for pre-med students were introduced abroad.
We are sure that there are small doses of this kind of action being taken at universities throughout the globe, however we feel that a more pro-active approach is necessary. Take, for example, the NBA athletes that considered playing for international teams during the recent 2011 lockout. These athletes were taking the “study abroad” experience to a whole new level, showing the world the kind of benefits that can be had from playing their sport abroad. There is no reason that we can’t be giving our college-level athletes these same opportunities in order to eliminate the question: “What is more important, being a student or an athlete?” We all know that both roles are equally important in shaping our characters and our futures.
What are your thoughts?
Emily’s Find of the Week – January 2, 2012
Top Moments in Study Abroad in 2011
With 2011 just behind us, I began to think about some of the top moments in the study abroad industry that occurred throughout the year. These moments not only made myself and Maryann question the purpose of study abroad, but they also made us consider important issues such as safety abroad, the economics of studying abroad, and how global politics influences the experiences that our ubies encounter while on the road.
That being said, we invite you to join us in reviewing the top five study abroad events of 2011, as well as to offer your own opinions about the events we post about or even those that we may have left out.
1) Arab Spring/Arab Awakening
While the Arab Spring “officially” began on December 18, 2010, the effects of these revolutions carried themselves well into the 2011 study abroad year.
It is evident that study abroad encourages the exchange of ideas and lifestyles across cultures, however rarely are students provided the opportunity to become active participants in this exchange. The Arab Spring protests that began nearly a year ago changed all of that. Students and universities found themselves in the midst of spiraling governments and societies and dangerous riots. Universities were forced to evacuate students not only from host countries, but also from local authorities. All of these events begged the questions: With the rise in study abroad in non-traditional countries, how safe are our students? What kinds of safety measures are in place, and what kinds of procedures are missing?
Related links: American Students Told to Avoid Egypt Protests
2) Amanda Knox Trial and Verdict
Perhaps the most important lesson learned from the Amanda Knox trial, regardless of which side of the fence you are on, is safety while abroad. Amanda Knox was studying abroad in Perugia, Italy in 2007 when she was accused of the murder of Meredith Kercher. She served four years of a 26 year sentence before the decision was overturned during the appeal process on October 3, 2011.
The odds of falling into a situation similar to Knox’s are slim to none, but nevertheless this study abroad student’s situation made universities, students, and parents question their preparation for run-ins with the law in foreign countries. This case has inspired numerous books, articles, movies, but most importantly it encouraged us all to recognize the importance of being a smart and informed traveler.
Related links: CNN.com Knox Trial Timeline
What Parents Can Learn from Amanda Knox Case
3) Global Recession: Is study abroad worth it?
With all the talk about the global recession in the media (and our homes), one would think that the study abroad industry would be one of the first sectors to suffer. Ironically enough, aside from a short dip in 2008, participation in study abroad continues to rise!
The Institute for International Education (IIE) reports an increase in U.S. students studying abroad (Open Doors report), especially an increase in non-traditional destinations. Not only are American students going abroad, but the report indicated a significant increase of enrollment of foreign students in American universities. Below are some key points from the report.
Interested in reading more? Download the official report here.
“The number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by five percent to 723,277 during the 2010/11 academic year, according to the Open Doors report.”
“The 2010/11 rate of growth is stronger than the three percent increase in total international enrollment reported the previous year, and the six percent increase in new international student enrollment this past year shows more robust new growth than the one percent increase the prior year.”
“Increased numbers of students from China, particularly at the undergraduate level, largely accounts for the growth this past year.”
Related links: International Student Enrollment Increased by 5 Percent in 2010/11, Led by Strong Increase in Students From China
4) Increase in tuition rates in the UK
In December 2011 Open University voted to increase tution fees in the UK £5000 a year, a change which has indirectly has pushed many students out of the UK education market. Where are these students turning? Abroad.
As a means of continuing their education in an affordable manner, many students interested in pursuing higher education have turned to universities abroad, in particular universities located in the United States.
Related links: More and more students looking to study abroad
5) Will.i.am, John Legend Topline China Education Concert
Will.i.am and the Black Eyed Peas, as well as John Legend and Chines pop stars came together for a group concert in support of study abroad programs for underprivileged American students. The show was organized by Americans Promoting Study Abroad, the U.S. State Department, and the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation.
Related links: Official Concert Article
Emily’s Find of the Week – December 8, 2011
Finding the Balance
An article by Chris Williams, published this week by the Associated Press, caught my eye. Williams brings to light an important issue that seems to be looming more heavily over the study abroad industry these days: how do we balance the personal safety of students with their innate desire to culturally immerse themselves in their host countries?
In light of the recent Amanda Knox trials in Italy and the arrests of the three American students that were arrested in demonstrations in Tahir Square in Egypt, I began to wonder whether or not the personal safety of students is appropriately addressed by universities and study abroad organizations prior to departure. On the other hand, perhaps these institutions do their part in explaining to students the potential consequences of their actions abroad, and it is simply the students themselves that engage in risky and sometimes foolish activities. Regardless of the circumstances, the question of student safety is an important and necessary issue that should be discussed within the study abroad community.
According to the Institute of International Education, more than 270,000 U.S. students studied abroad during the 2009-2010 school year. In a global economy that is seeing downward shifts in just about every other sector, the study abroad industry has wavered only slightly during the recession and, in fact, the number of participants continues to grow. Together with this growth in study abroad programs comes a shift in chosen destinations. While the majority of American students continue to study abroad in Western European countries, there is evidence to show that more and more students are building the courage to study abroad in less traditional places, take Egypt or India for example.
With more and more students studying abroad, it is only natural that students attempt to make decisions that will separate themselves from the rest of their study abroad community. Living abroad in a non-traditional study abroad location for a period of time is one way of doing this. As was the case with the three American students arrested in Egypt, sometimes these locations are experiencing periods of political and social unrest. Study abroad students are now not only given the opportunity to take weekend getaways to historical landmarks, or experience new culinary tastes, but they are provided the opportunity to witness the birth and/or growth of new democracies, changes in social behavior and, ultimately, they are given the opportunity to participate in great historical change.
At times there is no way of telling whether or not a student’s study abroad will coincide with the aforementioned types of unrest. Nevertheless, students, universities, parents, and governmental organizations need to continue to foster new types of communication to deal with these potential risks. Study abroad students and the institutions that they are affiliated with have the unique opportunity to be so-called “ambassadors” for their countries. When provided with the right resources and means of communication there is no way of telling the positive contributions that can be made to their home and host countries, as well as the greated global society.
Maryann’s Find of the Week – December 6, 2011
As I was stumbling through all things study abroad I found a fantastic site that features articles from students. Within this website you can find the Study Abroad Style Diary, a blog written by a NYU student named Colleen.
Colleen studied abroad in London and documented her time and travel from a fashion perspective. Below I have pasted one of my favorite posts of hers, a sophisticated fashion ensemble designed to encapsulate a typical Irish landscape.
Look Three: Irish Greenery
Apart from the desirable outfits that she seems to effortlessly put together, I found this blog intriguing because I believe all women that have studied abroad could relate. I know that the longer I studied in Rome the more I wanted to assume the cultural identity that was before me. One of the easiest and best ways to feel like you are part of your new culture is to dress the part. As I recall, all my roommates and I were constantly looking for little pieces of Italian style that we could incorporate into our American wardrobes. This blog really helps identify that unique aspect of the study abroad experience. So ubies, take a look! This blog could help inspire your next London-look.