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By: Richard Menard

Recently, I was in Florence visiting faculty at Gonzaga-in-Florence (GIF).  In one of our meetings, the faculty questioned why the number of students coming to Florence had decreased in the last few years, and why the Study Abroad Office was promoting other programs.  I responded that 50 years ago when GIF was created, Italy and Europe were the center of the political and culture movements of the world.  The Cold War was going on and Europe was important to the economic, diplomatic, and military strategies of the United States.  But with the fall of the Berlin Wall, Europe lost some of its strategic importance to the United States.

Today, China and the Middle East dominate the world news, and students look at the importance of those places in the world as study abroad options to give themselves an edge in their chosen fields.  Business majors see the number of multi-national companies working in China. International Studies students know that if they want to work for the U.S. State Department they are going to need to study a strategic language (http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=116453).  Thirty years ago, a student requesting to study in an Arabic or Chinese speaking location would have been extremely rare; now students regularly come by the office wanting to study abroad in countries that offer those languages.

Gonzaga-in-Florence and Gonzaga-in-Paris will always be the crown jewels of Gonzaga’s Study Abroad Program.  We can’t always build a Gonzaga-in-Jordan or a Gonzaga-in-Shanghai for our students. Gonzaga University has created the Sponsored Programs List to allow students to apply their financial aid and scholarships from Gonzaga toward the cost of GU-approved programs abroad.  These sponsored programs have been vetted for academic rigor, safety, security, housing, and meals to determine if they meet Gonzaga’s standards.  Additionally, these programs were added to allow students in majors that aren’t emphasized in Florence or Paris to have the opportunity to study abroad in their field of study.  These programs allow Gonzaga students to be enrolled at the University of Jordan in Amman, The Beijing Center in China, or Glasgow University in Scotland.  The classes from these intuitions will count towards a student’s degree and allow for on-time graduation.

Gonzaga University offers so many different types of study abroad opportunities, because we recognize that not all students will benefit from the same experience, and not all programs are necessarily the best emotional or academic fit for every student.  We strive to provide students with the international education they need to be successful in a global society.

This is the ninth part in an eleven-part series on Study Abroad. We will talk about how to choose your program, budgeting, safety abroad, internships, service learning, Gonzaga-in-Florence, Gonzaga-in-Paris, Faculty-Led Programs, Sponsored Programs, and Returning from Study Abroad.               

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