UWG has many opportunities for students to study abroad and there are many advantages of doing so. Yet, many students are afraid to take that first step because of many concerns. Money and safety are immediately a major deal breaker for most parents and students. Nevertheless, students from all backgrounds have made it possible to study abroad.
There are scholarships through each department; and the office of Education Abroad offers three direct scholarships. The General Scholarship is awarded to students who are accepted into their programs and complete the scholarship application. Secondly, the Wolves Abroad Grant is given to students who have never traveled outside of the country. Lastly, the Wasdin International Scholarship is given to a student accepted into a program in Europe, Central America, or South America. This is a newer scholarship that has additional specific criteria. About 200 students at UWG study abroad a year. Approximately 20 of those students do exchange programs and the remainder participate in short term faculty led programs.
A safe location for students is a top priority. If something happens while a student is studying abroad, there are many safety procedures in place. All programs require travel insurance that includes immediate evacuation, if needed. Students have asked if the study abroad program in London is still available because of the incidents that have occurred. The political relations between the U.S. and Cuba led to the cancellation of the study abroad program to Cuba. Our political relations between countries do affect study abroad programs. If a country is deemed as a threat level by the state, then the idea of running a program at that location will be revisited. Faculty is trained to be able to help students if something happens.
“Right now, all our programs are in areas that we’re comfortable with. Bear in mind that no place is 100 percent safe, but we do everything we can to make sure that our programs are prepared if there are any issues. Most students go and have a wonderful time,” said Doyle.
As an undergraduate, Doyle, studied abroad in Germany. Before studying abroad in Germany, she had never been on a plane before. Her experience sparked her to become a part of faculty led programs by teaching. She eventually became the director of several programs. From there she moved to the Director position of the office of Education Abroad. She has continued her intertwine her passion for traveling and helping students by traveling to several countries as the liaison for programs and students.
“It’s an experience that I still keep coming back too, something that’s shaped my perspective and shaped my sense that there is a much bigger world out there,” said Doyle.
The benefits of studying abroad are undeniable, such as personal growth and career opportunities. It provides a chance to learn and understand new systems, recognize cultural relations, and appreciate things that many take for granted. Studying abroad shows to an employer, adaptability, the ability to navigate and solve problems, and understanding other people.
“One of the things I love about this job is being able to help students who don’t think they can take that first step to do it, to help them see that this is something that is an option for you and there are resources that can help you do this. You don’t have to do it all on your own, we can help you find a place and get there if you’re willing to put in the effort to get there,” said Doyle.
Studying abroad is a possibility for all students. As the number of programs available at UWG has already expanded, Dr. Doyle is continuously working on adding programs that could be a perfect fit for any student. For more information about studying abroad, visit www.westga.edu/educationabroad.