The best learning experiences draw from a diverse range of different perspectives and provide real-life application of the subject. The Evergreen State College (Evergreen) has made this concept the foundation for their degrees and pathways, which extends into their unique and far-reaching study abroad programs. Their International Programs and Services department is eager to help you engage in education in a whole new way through their interdisciplinary, multi-term programs in a variety of cities and partner institutions around the world. Assistant Director Brynn Smith shares how essential a study abroad learning experience is for many students in this modern age, as well as how attainable it can be for anyone looking to broaden their experiences.

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In 2020, Evergreen had a study abroad program that took students to Ghandruk, Nepal. Pictured: Maddy Linder Photo credit: Maddy Linder

Study abroad programs are nothing new for Evergreen. Some of their oldest programs started 30 years ago, with many new programs created between then and now. Regardless of the subject, all of Evergreen’s programs are deeply entrenched in experiential learning, which makes it the perfect model for study abroad. “The field of study abroad is rooted in the theory of experiential learning,” says Brynn. “The philosophy of study abroad and the philosophy of Evergreen align perfectly with one another, so we have a really great model for study abroad.” By coupling academic studies with real-life situations, perspectives, and cultures, study abroad programs truly provide a unique and impactful learning experience unlike any other.

Evergreen has a variety of degrees and pathways that can incorporate a study abroad element, either as part of the curriculum or by student request. “Anything you want to study, you can do it abroad,” Brynn shares. “Students can apply to study at a partner institution if there is course work they want to do that Evergreen doesn’t offer.” Evergreen’s study abroad program also encompasses international students looking to study as exchange students on campus with Evergreen. Whichever way they go, students in study abroad programs can often earn credits during their study abroad that count toward the degree they are pursuing with their home institution. This makes study abroad even more desirable because of the opportunities it opens up to experience and learn something new.

“Many students want to embed global learning opportunities within their education where they can connect with people across different cultures,” Brynn says. “Global learning is an essential part of the 21st century, and Evergreen is really a great place to do that.” Due to the nature of this style of learning, study abroad has the unique ability to provide more than just an academic experience.

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Study abroad programs often allow students to step right into parts of history, such as on this trip to Mycenae, Greece in April of 2018. Photo credit: Bob Haft

Brynn studied abroad and quickly recognized how powerful those experiences have been for her not only as a student but as a person. “I was able to strengthen so many skills through my study abroad experience,” she shares. “I have seen it serving me in my career as much as in interacting with people around me.” Like Brynn, many study abroad students come home with strengthened problem-solving, leadership, and communication skills.

For many, study abroad programs feel overwhelming due to unknown costs and uncertainty about studying elsewhere. Brynn encourages interested individuals to reach out to her directly to learn more about the program. Previously a study abroad student herself, she understands just how nerve-racking the process can be and is eager to help people experience this amazing opportunity for themselves. As for the expense, study abroad programs are eligible for financial aid coverage, and many students are able to work with financial aid to obtain the funds needed for their time abroad. There are also scholarships out there to help fund study abroad programs, such as the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which awards up to $5,000 to thousands of students every year. “We even have study abroad scholarships available internally with Evergreen from donors to the college,” Brynn shares, “so there are lot of ways to help minimize the expenses that will come out of your own pocket.”

In today’s age, study abroad programs can really help support connection across cultures and encourage people to embrace those different from them. “We live in a really divided society, and study abroad really forces the person to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and think about things from another perspective,” says Brynn. “I think that is something that we as a society could really work on.” Evergreen’s primary mission is learning across differences, which intertwines perfectly with the takeaways from a study abroad experience. If you are interested in expanding your worldview while learning something new, a study abroad program with Evergreen is the perfect place to start. Contact Brynn at studyabroad@evergreen.edu to learn more and get started today.

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