The number of students studying abroad has increased from 561 in the 2012-13 year to 684 students in the 2015-16 year, marking a 21.9 percent increase and the highest overall enrollment in the past three years.
Georgetown currently offers study abroad options in 40 countries ranging from Botswana and Cameroon to Tajikistan and Taiwan. Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, Denmark and France have remained the most popular study abroad options over the past three years. Hong Kong, China, Argentina and Australia are the most popular choices in regions outside Europe.
According to the Office of Global Education website, 467 students — about two in three — are currently studying abroad in Europe, consistent with the trend in the past three years. Latin America has seen a significant decline in enrollment over the past three years, with the number of students studying in the region falling from 80 in 2012 to 54 in the latest cycle.
Africa and the Middle East/North Africa usually receives the fewest students, though Morocco has seen a steady increase in enrollment from four students each cycle in 2013-14 and 2014-15 to 11 in 2015-16.
Director of Global Education Craig Rinker said the number of students abroad demonstrates the importance of a global perspective in equipping Georgetown students to enter a more connected world.
“We all live in a world of increasing interdependent nations and cultures. The need to engage with the world has never been greater,” Rinker wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Georgetown students must be prepared to live and work in an international environment where they may need to look beyond borders to solve complex world issues. While our students can prepare in part through academic study and open debate, nothing can match direct experience.”
Students in the College make up more than half of students currently studying abroad. The School of Nursing and Health Studies continues to be the least represented school, with 12 students abroad in 2012-13 and 17 in 2015-16.
Meredith Johnson (SFS ’17), who studied abroad last fall in Madrid and now works as a peer adviser for the Office of Global Education, said she preferred to study in Europe because of the ease of travel to other nations.
“I’ve always known I’ve wanted to study abroad,” Johnson said. “I had never been out of the country before I went abroad so I knew I wanted to be in Europe because I wanted to see a bunch of countries in the short amount of time I was abroad.”
Johnson also said the availability of courses that matched her major affected her decision.
“[Spanish universities] had the most classes that would count towards my major whilst directly matriculating into classes with Spanish students,” Johnson said.
Tatiana Hadchiti (MSB ’18), who is currently studying abroad in the business and culture program in Barcelona, said her program balanced her interests in business and the humanities.
“As an International Business and Marketing double major, I thought that studying business abroad would give me a unique opportunity to learn about issues related to these topics through a unique lens,” Hadchiti wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Living in Spain also allows me to enhance my knowledge of the Spanish language and culture and explore a city in a different part of the world.”
Tori Costa (COL ’18), a Spanish and Portuguese major studying at the Complutense University of Madrid, said her study abroad experience is not what she anticipated.
“Studying abroad is a great experience, but I will say it has not met my expectations. Before arriving in Madrid, I thought things would be a lot easier than they turned out to be,” Costa wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Georgetown culture often depicts study abroad as a fun, well-deserved break from the daily grind we usually face as students. While in some ways this is true, there is still a lot of learning that goes on outside of the classroom.”
Hadchiti said that Georgetown students tend to spend most of their time with other students studying abroad, reducing opportunities to meet locals
“The majority of my time is spent with Georgetown students and other students I’ve met from different universities. My program consists almost entirely of American students, so it has been a little more difficult to meet local students,” Hadchiti wrote.
Katherine Leopold (COL ’18), who is studying abroad in Copenhagen, said her host family alleviated this issue by enabling her to find a balance between her peers and locals.
“My program has lots of Georgetown students in it. I spend some time with them and some time with other students in the program. Since I am living with a host family, I get to spend a good amount with local Danes everyday,” Leopold wrote.
Hadchiti said she received support at Georgetown prior to studying abroad that prepared her for a living experience in a foreign country.
“The MSB deans were very helpful during the application process and want to ensure that you are well prepared before leaving, in terms of course credits, cultural adjustment and any other issues that could arise,” Hadchiti wrote.
However, Costa said the College preparation did not ensure an easy transition overseas.
“I believe Georgetown did everything possible to equip us before moving overseas, however, I do not believe this is an experience you can truly prepare for,” Costa wrote.
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