As a core requirement, before graduation, every St. Mary’s student must complete an Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World (ELAW) experience. Experiences that qualify as ELAWs include study abroad, credit-bearing internships (arranged through the Career Development Center), and approved experiential or service learning classes.
Many students decide to study abroad through St. Mary’s programs. Is there a better way to satisfy the core requirement than seeing the world? There are 19 featured programs sending students anywhere from the Gambia to Dublin, Ireland . The International Education (IE) office is looking at adding new and improved programs all the time.
Recently, the program sending students to Pondicherry, India was cancelled. However, the IE team has decided that a program in Kerala, India would fit the needs of St. Mary’s students well. Next semester, Spring 2014, six students will study at the University of Kerala as the first St. Mary’s group in Kerala’s capital, Thiruvananthapuram. “I couldn’t be more excited” says junior Brian Oakey, who leaves for Kerala in early January, “Kerala is the perfect place for me to study and travel.”
The IE team looks at the demands and wants of students as they plan new programs. “More and more students are expressing interest in programs in Spain” says IE Assistant Director, Caitlin Ginter. This demand has encouraged the IE office to consider programs in Granada, hopefully by Fall 2014. Right now, there is a Spanish program that sends students to Argentina. Another Spanish speaking program would “open up a lot of opportunities for those majors” says Ginter.
Even farther down the road, the IE office hopes to open a new program that sends students to Italy. SMCM used to have a study abroad program in Alba, Italy but the program focused on the Arts. A new program in Italy would hopefully allow for a variety of different majors to study in Italy.
Another newer program is with the University College of Dublin in Ireland. The first year of the program (in the fall of 2012) one student went to Dublin as a non-St. Mary’s program and since then this program has grown rapidly since then. In spring 2013, 11 students studied in Dublin. Currently, there are 14 St. Mary’s students going to Dublin this fall. The numbers are not official yet but next spring semester approximately 25 students will be travelling to Dublin. When asked why this program is so rapidly growing, Ginter responded, “they have really awesome class selection and the courses transfer well especially for science majors.”
Studying abroad is truly experiencing the liberal arts in the world. The IE website quotes Pam Wye, who studied on a summer program in The Gambia and a semester program in Germany. Wye said “Studying abroad was one of my best decisions. I feel more independent, open and interested in other cultures. For anyone thinking about studying abroad, I would say ‘DO IT!’ I am able to apply so much of what I learned abroad to my classes and life back in the U.S. The whole experience was exciting and incredibly rewarding.” If interested in one of the 19 SMCM programs, or a non-St. Mary’s program, the IE website (smcm.studioabroad.com) has resources and information.