ABERDEEN, S.D. (Press Release) – Northern State University Study Abroad has seen a significant increase this year, with nearly triple the number of participants in its programs compared to last year.
That success means all the hard work of staff, led by NSU Study Abroad and CEIB Advisor Dominika Blum, is paying off.
Blum said oftentimes, students tend to think of all the reasons they can’t study abroad – cost, time, parental support. But she’s been raising awareness that it’s possible for all students.
“Our motto is ‘I can do this,’” she said.
This academic year, 55 students, faculty, alumni and members of the public have traveled, or are traveling this summer, to locations all around the world. That includes: Australia, Canada, Cambodia, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Thailand. That compares to only 20 participants in last academic year programs.
Increased Awareness Efforts
Blum has been leading efforts to increase exposure of Northern’s offerings through classroom visits and one-on-one consultations. She has also spoken to TRIO students, and to high school students at registration days and during campus tours. She and her colleagues have participated in Northern’s Club Rush and Study Abroad Fair, updated marketing materials, increased social media efforts, and created a Study Abroad blog.
Blum said she’s grateful for the hard work of student workers Becca Langbehn, Shanae Doerr, Suna Yang and Maddie Kovach, as well as the support of NSU Director of International Programs Dr. Leigh Neys and co-workers Stacey Schmidt, Ioana Hojda and Heidi Hepola.
She also appreciates the assistance of departments including admissions, advising, career services, financial aid, finance, marketing, purchasing and registrar.
Faculty members have also been extremely supportive of her efforts. “That’s huge,” she said.
What’s Next for Study Abroad?
Despite all that hard work, Blum has plans to increase awareness efforts.
“There’s just so many things,” Blum said. “We still haven’t even scratched the surface.”
Blum would like to present during orientation sessions and hold study abroad talks in more informal, small-group settings. She also wants to train campus tour guides on study abroad, and hold sessions for faculty and parents. Her office is finalizing a study abroad guide for fall, which will be available as a PDF.
Blum applied for a New Zealand government grant that would fund a site visit for her to explore study abroad opportunities in that country. International Programs is also working on a budget proposal that could possibly fund a student tracking software that would allow online account creation and comparisons of different overseas opportunities.
‘A Program for Everybody’
Northern recently signed agreements with three new international education providers: API, CISabroad and ASA. Northern already had agreements with Magellan Exchange and ISA, and it has 23 exchange programs with universities around the world.
That makes a total of 150 destinations for Northern students, including short-term, long-term, internships, faculty-led programs and service learning. Next spring, for instance, Blum and School of Business faculty member Dr. Ramiro Serrano-Garcia will lead a service learning trip to Guatemala over spring break, in conjunction with NSU Student Affairs.
“There’s really a program for everybody,” Blum said.
For students, travel provides a different level of learning compared to just learning from a book or video about a destination, Blum said. It sets their resume apart and gets them out of their comfort zone, challenging them and helping them overcome fear of the unknown.
“For students it’s really just opening up their mind to the world,” Blum said. “In today’s economy and today’s changing world it is very beneficial for them to see at least a little tiny part of it, bring what they learn and apply it to their career after college or their experiences here at NSU.”
For faculty, leading a program might make a nervous student more likely to go.
“They can still experience that country and the different culture and learn about it with their favorite professor,” Blum said.
Providing the Best Opportunities
Blum wants study abroad numbers to keep rising. With the university’s increasing emphasis on global learning opportunities, she’d love the chance to focus solely on study abroad to help meet her ultimate goal: providing students the best, safest, most affordable study abroad opportunity possible.
“I want students to know that if they come to Northern, they can not only get an education that’s going to be amazing, but at the same time they can get a fantastic experience abroad that no other university in the Dakotas provides,” she said. “That’s our goal.”