COOKEVILLE – The study abroad program has resumed at Tennessee Tech University and students are once again traveling to Europe and Asia for various programs of study and educational experiences and gaining global perspectives and skills.
The Tech study abroad program was placed under a travel suspension two years ago due to safety concerns at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the suspension expired and global COVID-19 concerns lessened, the program was reactivated and students were eager to travel.
“We have two groups abroad right now, one in Costa Rica and going to London and Paris totaling about 55 (students),” Amy Miller, assistant director of the study abroad office, said. “We have two students abroad individually right now, and 26 going at various times this summer and about 15 going this fall.”
This summer students are going to France, Spain, Greece, Italy, Ireland and Peru. This fall students are going to South Korea, France, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and Peru. While the students are going to the same places they did pre-COVID-19 for the most part, the administration has focused on locations that are a great distance from the conflict in Ukraine.
Some students are going for two weeks and others are going for a year according to Miller, depending upon their program of study.
There are a variety of majors taking advantage of these opportunities, including music, business, psychology, sociology, biology, nursing, foreign languages, exercise science, environmental studies, fine arts, nutrition, chemistry, mechanical engineering, interdisciplinary studies, manufacturing engineering technology, education and master’s business administration students.
The students pay for their study abroad program, however they can use their financial aid and apply for other study abroad scholarships, according to Miller.
“Tech has an airfare reimbursement program where if the student is eligible, they can get up to $1,000 back for their airfare expense,” Miller said. “It’s incredible how inexpensive some of our programs are, most students are shocked about that.”
Most students who study abroad say that it was the best part of their entire college career, according to Miller. Many students who would not normally travel out of state have the chance to experience a different culture, learn about global perspectives and gain skills to take into the global workplace.
“When students get jobs here, they will probably be working with some international people, and they will need to be able to communicate effectively and work collaboratively with people from other cultures,” Miller said. “So, it’s definitely something that employers are looking for as well as graduate schools.”
Although the program is resuming, extra steps are being taken to check the location where the students are going and make sure they are prepared for the COVID-19 protocols in that country.
“Students are finding out currently that many countries are more strict regarding COVID-19 protocols than we are in this area,” Miller said.
There are less students than normal participating in the program this summer, but more students participating in the Fall according to Miller. This was in part due to the mid-March deadlines for summer and fall and short window for students to sign up after confirming the travel suspension would be lifted.
“Considering how quickly students had to sign up, I’m very pleased with the number of students that are going abroad,” Miller said.
Tech’s study abroad program has been around since 1989 according to Miller and has seen continued growth in participation.
Students who are interested in studying abroad should plan to go when they are either sophomores or juniors, according to Miller. They should begin thinking about it when they are freshman and start planning ahead.
“This is the best way to maximize the credits they will earn as well as use the financial resources available,” Miller said. “I would like to encourage students to take advantage of this opportunity.”
For more information on Tech’s Study Abroad program visit https://www.tntech.edu/studyabroad/goingabroad.php.