Grove City College’s study abroad programs allow students to make the world their classroom.
With programs in hundreds of different countries and relationships with higher education institutions around the world, the College’s Stan and Karen Johnson Office of Global Programs enables students learn through first-hand experience about a culture different from their own.
This week, the Office of Global Programs hosts its annual Global Education Celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday in the atrium of the Hall of Arts and Letters. Students will learn about different study abroad locations through food samples, games, prizes and lots of first-hand information about different countries from students who have been there, like Anna Cook ’20 who studied in Thailand last year.
Cook, an Entrepreneurship major from Cranesville, Pa., will have a table set up to share her experience through photos and Thai mango sticky rice. Other tables will feature students who studied in France, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland, Peru, Costa Rica and New Zealand.
According to Jennifer L. Gilliland, staff assistant for the Office of Global Programs and director of the fair, nearly half of the student body will participate in an international travel experience, whether it be a faculty-led travel course, study abroad, an international internship, Red Box or other international mission trips during their time at Grove City College.
“This semester, we have students who are studying abroad in such countries as Italy, Spain, England, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Australia,” Gilliland said. Other recent study abroad destinations include Poland, Peru and Scotland.
There are countless benefits of studying abroad during the college years. Cook got to experience them firsthand and is ready to share some of her biggest lessons and joyous adventures of her time in Thailand, or what she said is known as “the land of smiles” – last spring. “Anywhere you go in Thailand, people are kind to you,” Cook said.
In addition to learning about a new culture while abroad, Cook grew in many different ways. “I grew in my ability to live on my own …That real-world experience that I hadn’t had yet transferred to my time back in the states. I feel like I’m a more independent woman.”
Being surrounded by foreign people and new ideas was daunting, but rewarding, according to Cook.
“Every person I met, I met for the first time. I didn’t have support around me that knew me or agreed with me. No previous connections at all,” Cook said. “But, I learned how to think for myself, come to my own conclusions and learn how to communicate them.”
She took classes at Chiang Mai University like International Relations, Buddhism in Thailand, Thai Language for Communication and Thai Homestyle Cooking. “It’s not just an academic experience, it’s a holistic experience of learning and growth,” Cook said. “It was up to me to learn.”
She used some of her time to explore what she called a “tourist’s dream” with opportunities for rock climbing, kayaking, skydiving, snorkeling and more. “You get to explore other parts of the world: everything is new. It is good for a human to have to navigate and figure out new things.”
“There’s so many different and good ways to live life,” Cook said. “Studying abroad makes you think through some of the ways it could change you, and you learn to allow those thoughts to change the way you live your life.”
For more about the Stan and Karen Johnson Office of Global Programs and Grove City College, visit www.gcc.edu.