GREENVILLE, S.C. (courtesy bju.edu) — After canceling all study abroad trips during summer 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, BJU will offer eight study abroad trips this summer to enhance students’ academic experience.
Dr. Jeremy Patterson, chair of the Division of World Languages and Cultures, directs study abroad trips and encourages students and their parents to see the value of the experience. “One of the main skills you develop is global fluency (also known as) intercultural competence,” he said.
He cited studies that showed that 100% of students who participated in study abroad improved their GPA, 97% of students found employment within 12 months of graduation, compared to only 49% of all students who found employment in the same amount of time.
Patterson enjoys taking his own group of study abroad students to France every other year. One of his favorite aspects of the trip is getting to further relationships with his students. “Having that professional relationship become a bit more personal and become deeper (helps) you stay in touch with (those students) even more,” he said.
Spanish and Art + Design faculty members Dr. Amos Kasperek and Lewis Carl are planning for their prospective trips as well.
Kasperek will lead his fifth trip to Spain this summer, and he appreciates both the educational and spiritual enrichment students gain traveling abroad. “There is so much growth that I get to observe — reading through (students’) journals, watching them struggle (with language). It is when we go through struggle that we really start to think through things, and we are pushed to depend on God and see God in ways we haven’t before,” he said.
Carl will take a group of students to Italy this summer for the first time. With study abroad cancellations, he has had more time to tailor the itinerary and activities of the trip. Carl desires that his students take in the expanse of art in front of them, but his greatest hope is that students will realize the lack of gospel presence. “I want them to be aware of the need for gospel witness and for gospel living in places like (Venice),” he said.
Senior Spanish major Elise Snow said being immersed in Spanish culture during a 2018 trip greatly enhanced her language skills.
She is also grateful that she had the opportunity to share the Gospel. “I would say (a) life-changing aspect was the first time I was really able to share the Gospel with somebody in Spanish. … God just gave me special grace to be able to think clearer in the language and be able to understand,” she said.
Snow still keeps in touch with her host family over social media. She gives advice to students who are thinking about taking a study abroad trip in the future. “Let (the people) show you their way of life and take it in 100%. Because the truth is, you will get out of study abroad what you put into it,” Snow said.
BJU study abroad trips taking place during summer 2022 include art and design, business, communication, communication disorders, global health, music, French and Spanish. The global health study abroad trip travels to Ghana, West Africa. All other trips travel to the EU and the UK. Students interested in studying abroad should visit bjucgo.com/studyabroad for more information.