Presented By CENTRE ColLEGE

If you are considering studying abroad as part of your college experience, understand that the most popular study abroad programs incorporate opportunities for students to immerse themselves in another culture. Learn more about the most popular study abroad programs in our discussion with Dr. Kyle Anderson, director of the Center for Global Citizenship at Centre College.

Immersive Study Abroad: What is it, and what are the benefits?

Many colleges offer study abroad programs. Some are designed and run by the colleges themselves, while others are in partnership with Study Abroad providers. Study abroad programs can vary in length from weeks, to semester- or year-long experiences. If you truly want to engage completely in another culture, consider the features that immersive study abroad provides.

Many semester-length and longer programs are meant to be immersive and are designed specifically to eliminate “cultural bubbles” by including homestays, internships, and volunteer/service opportunities. These features help students participate in a more cross-cultural experience by living with families, gaining valuable experience related directly to their anticipated career, and giving back to the communities where they’re studying.

Immersive study abroad

The nationally ranked Centre College study abroad program is unique among other institutions not only because of its high participation rates (an average 85 percent of Centre students study abroad once and 30 percent two or more times), but also because the majority of its offerings are designed and run by the college.

Shanghai (shown to the right) is an increasingly popular destination, but just one of many options.

Some 63 percent of Centre College faculty have taught their students at international sites. As a result, the entire Centre experience, whether at home or abroad, takes place in an energizing context of different cultures.

The Centre College approach to study abroad is definitely centrifugal in nature, working hard to send its students to all corners of the globe. Increasingly, this international focus has become centripetal as well, since Centre has recently grown its foreign student population by leaps and bounds to more than 100 students from 13 countries. This adds to the already strong cosmopolitan nature of the campus.

Centre’s approach to study abroad offers intensive cross-cultural experiences both at our home campus and in our study abroad programs to provide our graduates with confidence in any setting.

How to Extend Work in Your Major in Popular Study Abroad Programs

For language majors or those wanting to perfect their language skills in a foreign language, immersive study is an excellent choice to perfect skills learned in the classroom. But study abroad can enhance other majors and also studies as well.

Some of our more popular study abroad offerings are semester-long programs in China, England, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Spain. Shorter-term options are also available across the globe on nearly every continent during winter and summer terms. Recent trips that enhance classroom studies include primate study in Barbados (pictured below), religion and politics in India, sacred arts in Bali, political history in Vietnam, post-revolutionary life in Nicaragua, anthropology in Peru, and volcanoes in New Zealand.

Centre College academic study abroad

Centre College is focused on preparing citizen leaders for lives of meaningful work and service in a global context. Students who study abroad strengthen soft skills, language skills, and even business skills. Consider Centre’s program in Merida—one of the Yucatan’s most vibrant cities—where students experience homestays with local families to fully assimilate into Mexican culture. Internship and volunteer opportunities are also available, providing yet another opportunity for cultural immersion. Similarly, students in Shanghai not only enjoy intensive Mandarin study but also pursue an internship as part of their curriculum.

"First, beyond simply reading about distant lands in books, study abroad offers our students the opportunity to become global citizens firsthand. Second, this form of education is truly an adventure. Thousands of miles away from home, students become capable of navigating what is often different and new." — Dr. John A. Roush, President, Centre College

Gaining Valuable Skills for Future Success

So-called soft skills that place a premium on critical thinking, problem solving, and strong written and oral communication abilities are in high demand and are a hallmark of a Centre College education. In a moment of increasing globalization, the opportunity to develop these skills in an international setting definitely provides value-added opportunities for Centre College graduates.

The Centre Commitment, now in its 16th year, makes this possible by guaranteeing a study abroad experience, along with an internship (with many international options) or undergraduate research experience, as well as graduation in four years.

“Being abroad is helpful in eventually seeking employment and acceptance into programs of advanced study. I’m even more convinced that while it’s true that most students will never live abroad, their lives of work and service will be of global proportion regardless of their career choice.” — Dr. John A. Roush, President, Centre College

How Study Abroad Impacts Career Prospects

Centre College study abroad career

As the world seems to grow smaller given the impact of globalization, employers are bound to be impressed with applicants who have the potential to bridge cultural differences, specifically because they have already spent time in other countries. Study abroad shows potential employers adaptability, curiosity, diversity and an openness to learning.

Approximately 12 percent of Centre graduates go on to work internationally, and a high number also pursue post-graduate work abroad or receive prestigious international honors such as a Rhodes, Gates Cambridge, or Fulbright scholarship. Others, such as Michael Fryar ’14 (pictured right), studied abroad on a Rotary Global Grant Scholarship, earning a master’s degree at the London School of Economics before heading to Harvard’s Center for International Development to work as a research fellow. Emily Stephenson ’15, also a Rotary recipient, studied at the University of Sheffield, expanding on work she did earlier through a summer internship at the Institut de génétique et de biologie moléculaire et cellulaire in Strasbourg, France.

But whether working or studying at home or abroad, a Centre graduate’s international experience is definitely appealing to a prospective employer or graduate/professional school, evidenced by a 97 percent placement rate within 10 months of graduation.

Dr. Kyle Anderson

About the Author: Dr. Kyle Anderson

Dr. Kyle Anderson served as assistant professor of Chinese and chair of Asian studies at Centre College before becoming director of the Center for Global Citizenship in 2017. He has led eight study abroad trips to Asia and Europe, and he co-led Centre’s semester-long London program and has played a key role in establishing the program in Shanghai, China. Fluent in Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish—with additional study of Burmese, French, German, Portuguese, and Thai—Anderson has lived or worked in China, England, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.