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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Professors Abroad

Wofford+consistently+ranks+as+one+of+the+top+institutions+for+study+abroad%2C+and+around+64%25+of+Wofford+students+study+abroad+at+some+point+in+their+college+career.
Wofford consistently ranks as one of the top institutions for study abroad, and around 64% of Wofford students study abroad at some point in their college career.

At a school such as Wofford, that places an emphasis on intercultural studies and has a highly-ranked international programs department, it’s not difficult to see why so many students choose to study abroad during their four years. However, not many students ask for their professors’ opinions in determining which program is best for them, although they tend to understand the experience well. Andrew Green, professor of finance at Wofford, describes his experience as a visiting professor in Copenhagen as similar to a student’s semester abroad.

“I’ve travelled a lot, but I’ve never actually lived somewhere else, so to settle in for five months and have an apartment and go to the grocery store… It’s a different experience,” he says. “I travel as much as I can for interim, and I love it for the students, but going abroad for two weeks on a trip is totally different than settling in for four months into another country” I really loved having the experience to live in another country, which is what students experience, too.”

During the spring 2016 semester, Peter Brewitt, professor of environmental science, attended the International Educators Workshop through the DIS Study Abroad Foundation. The week-long program allows professors from American colleges to see firsthand what students experience while studying abroad by living with a host family and sitting in on classes in either the Copenhagen or Stockholm locations. He says that this gave him a better idea of the program so that he can help advise his students better in the future.

“What going into DIS did for me was that I can talk about the program specifically and make good recommendations to students about whether it would fit them or whether they should do something else,” says Brewitt.

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Jim Neighbors, professor of English, is the next Wofford faculty member to participate in the International Educators Workshop. Although a fan of Scandinavian literature, Neighbors has yet to visit the region and looks forward to being able to see what students experience while studying abroad. He believes that this opportunity is important for students to take advantage of during their time at Wofford.

“Studying abroad for students is, in general, a really wonderful and important option,” says Neighbors. “Learning about a different culture and society, interacting with people in meaningful ways who are different from you, getting out of the country to have an experience that’s different than what you’ve experienced before, learning how to become more independent and deal with problems on your own, coming up with new solutions and exploring the ways in which you yourself can change- all of that is intensified in the study abroad experience.”

One of the biggest issues that professors worry about when their students go abroad is that they will not do what it takes to branch out of their American student groups and meet local people. Green says that this can happen to any student studying abroad.

“This could be true of any study abroad experience,” he says. Sometimes I worry that when students are with so many of their peers- fellow Americans studying abroad- that they don’t break their own barriers and get out there. That’s a worry wherever you go. You could get there and basically just hang out with Americans for four months.”

On the other hand, students can easily get involved in their cities to meet local people- advice that is often given by professors who have experienced cultural immersion themselves. Brewitt says that getting to know locals takes some effort but ends up being invaluable.

“When I was in London as a junior, I played on the University College of London frisbee team, and that was fantastic,” he shares. “It would have been easy to go through and almost exclusively talk to Americans in that program, so doing that kind of thing and getting out into the flow of life in another country, wherever it is, is something that I very much recommend. It takes a little courage, I suppose, but it’s worthwhile.”

Overall, the majority of professors at Wofford are very supportive of their students studying abroad. Even if they did not experience a program on their own, they can see the changes in the students’ understanding and involvement in the classroom. For students wanting to study abroad, they all have the same advice:

“Do it,” says Neighbors. “Absolutely, if at all feasible in terms of schedule and so on. Select a program for reasons of academic interest but also because you want to be there and meet the people there and so forth. The vast majority of the times I’ve talked with students who have come back from studying abroad, they have valued it and found it incredibly meaningful and worthwhile.”

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