Marquette Wire

Study abroad difficulties not always highlighted

Catherine+Sullivan-Konyn+sits+at+a+retreat+center+in+Hermanes%2C+South+Africa.+Photo+courtesy+of+Jake+Zellinski.%0A%0A
Catherine Sullivan-Konyn sits at a retreat center in Hermanes, South Africa. Photo courtesy of Jake Zellinski.

Catherine Sullivan-Konyn sits at a retreat center in Hermanes, South Africa. Photo courtesy of Jake Zellinski.

Catherine Sullivan-Konyn sits at a retreat center in Hermanes, South Africa. Photo courtesy of Jake Zellinski.

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In the spring 2017 Graduating Senior Survey, 25 percent of students reported having an international undergraduate experience. The transition from Marquette to going abroad was more seamless for some students than others.

Karli Webster, associate director and manager of study abroad, said a common myth about studying abroad is that it will delay a student’s graduation. She said that the Office of International Education has course planning processes in place to help students remain on track to graduate on time.

OIE has a database of over 2,000 courses that have been pre-approved at Marquette, allowing students to know how classes will transfer back and how the courses will impact their graduation checklist. Webster said OIE works with the colleges to identify programs that work best for different majors.

Madelyn Labriola, an alumna from the College of Arts & Sciences, spent five months studying abroad in Galway, Ireland, during the spring of her senior year. Labriola was told that if she took two classes in the fall of her senior year and six classes during the spring in Ireland, she would be on track for graduation. However, during her time abroad, Labriola said the criteria regarding graduation requirements was changed.

“Right before term was over last semester, Marquette was like, ‘Oh, kidding, you aren’t graduating,’” Labriola said.

Already starting a master’s program, Labriola said she had to appeal to the school to receive her graduation certificate.

The change in credits for Labriola’s trip occurred due to a change in university policy, Webster said. She added that there are pre-departure deadlines and reminders to ensure that credits and graduation requirements are cemented before students go abroad. In this case, Webster said graduation requirements changed before students went abroad and had picked their classes.

Nonetheless, Labriola said she felt these changes weren’t effectively communicated.

“I think that the advisors and the Office of International Education need to do a better job of being on the same page,” Labriola said.

“All study abroad students sign a statement at the time of application indicating the credit equivalency they will receive upon successful completion of their overseas course work. Students are reminded of this again at pre-departure orientation,” Karen Hess, OIE’s International Communications and Marketing Coordinator, said in an email.

Pricing and budgeting also affect Marquette students who study abroad.

Webster said in an email that while some study abroad programs are more expensive than Marquette tuition, about half of the semester programs offered by the Office of International Education are similar to or less than the cost of a semester at Marquette – airfare included.

Scholarship funding also allows more students to study abroad, she said.

Even with programs being less than or the same cost as Marquette, studying abroad can still be expensive for students.

Lisa Durrant, a senior in the College of Nursing, never thought studying abroad would be a part of her college experience. But for the fall of her junior year, Durrant applied to a nursing program in Madrid, Spain.

Although tuition was the same for Marquette as it was for the program abroad, Durrant had to cover all extra expenses with her own money. The summer before she left, Durrant saved as much as she could and boarded the plane with $1,700. Meals and extraneous expenses added up, though, and Durrant began tutoring two Spanish families to earn extra money.

“While my friends would be exploring after school, I’d be like, ‘Nope, sorry, I have to go to work,'” Durrant said.

Tutoring simultaneously rooted Durrant in Spain — helping her learn the language and connect with locals — and isolated her from other American students, who were able to travel throughout Europe without worrying about cost. Despite the mixed experiences, Durrant said she reflects on her study abroad experience fondly and said she thinks about Spain frequently.

“I came back with zero money, but I’ll still graduate in four years, and it was just one of the coolest things I’ll ever get to do,” Durrant said.

 

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the nursing program was in Barcelona, Spain. The study abroad program was in Madrid, Spain. The Wire regrets the error. 

This story was updated April 13 at 10:46 p.m.

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