By Brance Arnold ’10 MA
Study abroad experiences often leave an indelible impact on the lives of students who graduate and step out into the world to pursue their personal and career aspirations.
As reported by the Institute of International Education, 289,408 U.S. students studied abroad for academic credit in 2012-13. The number of American students going to other countries has nearly doubled since 2000 according to U.S. News & World Report. Thus, students are traveling abroad more than ever, paving the way for rich, diverse international experiences to inspire them to remain global citizens beyond graduation.
“Study abroad increases an average of about 10 percent each academic year. When we look at our numbers they are definitely increasing,” said Dr. Javier Lozano, UIW director of sister school partnerships. “Students continue to travel and we expect to see an increase as professional programs continue to search for and secure new opportunities.”
Alumni of UIW and the Study Abroad program are no exception, continuing to travel, work and study internationally. There exists a myriad of international opportunities including internships, employment, and graduate and professional programs, among others. One international opportunity is to teach English abroad.
According to the International Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Academy, an estimated 250,000 native English speakers work as English teachers abroad in more than 40,000 schools and language institutes all over the world.
One of UIW’s own, Zachary Danz ’13 BA, is currently teaching English in Asia with inspiration derived from his study abroad experience at UIW.
In the fall of his junior year, Danz spent a semester studying performance art at Central Saint Martins College in London, England, and said the experience was transformative.
“My study abroad semester awakened me to the fact that the world actually exists,” said Danz. “But actually living somewhere, making friends, having a life completely outside your own is quite eye opening. It’s a truly non-replaceable experience.”
Since graduating, Danz moved to China where he has taught English in Yantai and now in Shanghai. He also travels extensively. He currently teaches at a private international school called HuiShi Elementary School.
“I’m teaching English fulltime and studying Mandarin, working as an artist, and traveling,” said Danz. “I would easily call this the most personally enriching period of my life, and I do credit a major part of it to what was awakened within me during my semester abroad.”
Danz said he is gaining mastery over the Chinese language. Also an actor, he is currently performing with an otherwise all-Chinese Shakespearean company, where he is playing a role in “Macbeth” entirely in Chinese.
He said low living expenses are an added perk while living in Asia: “I’m not making a ton of money, but I’m able to save and live very comfortably because the overall cost of living is considerably less expensive.”
Danz estimates he will spend another two or three years in China, but has no plans to return to the U.S. anytime soon.
“By that time, I’ll have mastery over the language,” he explained. “That will open many doors to me, personally and professionally. I may journey next to southern Europe or South America. I’d like to learn another language and perhaps work for a major company as a translator or work as an artist or social activist. I see lots of potential futures for myself.”
Interestingly, in a 2012 IES Abroad survey of 1,008 study abroad alumni, 84 percent reported they felt studying abroad helped them develop valuable job skills such as foreign language knowledge, cultural training, tolerance for ambiguity, adaptability, communication, and more.
Other opportunities for international experiences for alumni arise through graduate programs and internships, as is the case for Arianna Ingle ’12 BA who has now secured employment abroad.
“I studied abroad in Paris, France in Fall 2010 at the American University of Paris,” said Ingle. “After graduation, I came back to Paris to get my master’s in global communication at the American University of Paris and graduated in December 2014.”
While pursuing her master’s, she worked as an intern for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Ingle now works in Paris at the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) in the Anti-Corruption Division (ACD), within the Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs (DAF) that supports the global fight against bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions.
Via her opportunities abroad, she has traveled throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East. And, similar to Danz, taught English in South Korea for a month as part of a program provided by UIW Study Abroad.
Ingle said her study abroad experience inspired her to further her education overseas and pursue a career in an international organization where she could learn about other cultures.
“Studying abroad allowed me to pursue my passion of traveling and made me realize the importance of understanding how others live. Studying abroad at UIW also made me realize that I wanted to return to Paris to pursue my master’s,” she said. “Traveling has greatly shaped me as a person as I continue to become more open-minded one country at a time.”
Danz and Ingle are just two examples of UIW alumni, inspired by study abroad, who hold a lasting passion for experiencing life on a global scale. And as the university continues to grow internationally, so will students and alumni who continue to cultivate themselves personally and professionally through international opportunities and experiences.