UNE’s Global Education (study abroad) program, has reached new heights as during the 2018/2019 academic year when they sent 123 students abroad compared to the ten students sent abroad in 2006. With an exponentially growing interest for global experiences, the Global Education program is finding new avenues to promote their experiences to keep up with the interest as every year more students are drawn to studying abroad.
UNE is unique when it comes to the experience and support that students receive when taking the step into a life-changing experience. From the moment they start orientation or attend accepted student days they are exposed to information on studying abroad through information sessions, tours to the Global Education office, and the student involvement fair. Throughout the semesters on campus, the Global Education office offers international-themed events to staffing a student advisor desk in the Ripich Commons. There is even a Global Education scholarship that is granted to students accepted into one of the semester-long programs.
“We try to remove barriers that would prevent students from going abroad.” states David Suda, one of the program coordinators.
Social media is a big factor in advertising the incredible experiences of students currently abroad. Every week, a different student takes over the UNEglobal or UNEMorocco Instagram to post about the current activities and daily events they experience while abroad. They are able to share a glimpse into their study abroad story. Students interested in the program can view these posts to get a better understanding of the types of experiences they would be having if they choose to spend a semester abroad or embark on a travel course.
No wonder “UNE students are traveling abroad at 5 times the national average” states Suda.
Along with Instagram, they have a Facebook presence in which they often post about upcoming study abroad events, study abroad student articles, and faculty developments.
Emily Dragon, the director of the Global Education program, states via an email that 33% of the undergraduate class of 2019 participated in at least one study abroad experience during their time at UNE. 18% participated in a semester-long program compared to just 15% in 2017/18. The program coordinators pride themselves on their ability to make the process as streamlined as possible.
“We are literally holding your hand every step of the way and paving the way for you to leave Maine and go abroad,” said Sandra Larned, program coordinator.
UNE’s Global Education program is quite extensive, featuring four semester-long programs. The flagship program is in Tangier, Morocco, where UNE has its own campus. What makes this program so attractive to students is that it offers excursions to various cities in Morocco along with a trip to Sevilla, Spain. If students are worried about falling behind in their academics, the coordinators have made it possible for nearly every major to find time to study abroad. A big asset is the campus includes labs science classes on campus which is a feature that many other study abroad programs can’t offer.
“I was afraid that applying to study abroad was going to be daunting and challenging, but the Global Ed office made it really easy. They took the stress of applying out of the equation.” says UNE student Mitch Becker who spend Spring 2018 in Morocco.
Currently, 40 students are attending the Morocco campus with 70 accepted for the fall of 2020 which will be the biggest cohort ever. That size could not be possible without such dedicated staff. Among the kitchen, and maintenance workers on the Morocco campus, are three individuals who make the program flourish. Doua Ben and Rania Chentouf, the campus coordinators, and Mourad Benkirane, the campus manager, who are all Moroccan natives. They all have years of experience making the Moroccan travel abroad experience enticing and comfortable for students who attend.
They also offer a semester abroad in Sevilla, Spain and Aix de Province, France, in which students live with host families and last but not least, Akureyri, Iceland, in which only a few students per semester attend. Along-side the semester-long programs are the 15 faculty lead travel courses that go all over the globe.
A travel course entails attending a class on campus in Biddeford leading up to the travel portion in which students apply what they learned in the classroom to practical scenarios on location. These courses range from spending three weeks traveling throughout Kenya for an environmental course to spending a week with a host family in Mexico doing community service. More information on the semester abroad and travel courses can be found at: https://www.une.edu/global/ed.
Students who study abroad often come back as changed individuals having lifechanging cultural and personal experiences. The faculty, professors, and students behind the program understand how valuable it is and that’s why they wholeheartedly encourage and develop the growth of the program.
On her study abroad experience in Morocco, Hannah St. Germain said, “Looking back on studying abroad feels like a past life. All the things you experience, places you see, and people you meet are so phenomenal that it’s almost difficult to accept that it was real, and I was able to live that.”