On Thursday, Brian Whalen, President and CEO of the Forum on Education Abroad spoke in the Downing University Center Auditorium about how studying abroad has evolved over the years.
Even though Whalen runs a study abroad company, he said he never went away in college.
“I never studied abroad as a student,” Whalen said. “I went to college in the late 70’s and early 80’s and it was very uncommon at that point to study abroad.”
Whalen said students in the past weren’t as exposed to the global learning opportunities found on college campuses today.
He said teachers now are much more engaged globally than they’ve ever been. Because of this, the idea of studying abroad isn’t foreign to students anymore.
“More and more students are studying abroad than ever before,” said Whalen.
According to Whalen, the number of international students in the world had nearly doubled between 2000 and 2010, increasing from 2.1 million to 4.1 million.
He said that while the number of international students may be impressive, they only make up a small portion of students globally.
“International students represent only 2.3 percent, said Whalen. “Study abroad globally is still a relatively rare occurrence.”
Whalen also cited studies on how studying abroad affects students. Many studies show that studying abroad advances a student’s language skills, intercultural communication, global citizenship, critical thinking, creativity, job prospect, and even cognitive learning.
One study involved alumni being asked to write down memories from their junior year in college. The study showed that students who studied abroad recalled twice as many memories from college than those who didn’t. Memories the study abroad students recalled were also more vivid as well.
“There were significant differences,” Whalen said. “You could see it in passion of the writing and the length of the writing from those who studied.”
Whalen told students that it’s up to them to determine whether or not the studies are reliable.
“The advice I would give to you is to take a look at them and see how your own experience measures up with some of the conclusions,” he said.
Sophomore Thomas Kinman came to the event to gain extra credit for his recreation class. Kinman said he enjoyed the lecture, even though he was there for class.
“I learned a lot about study abroad I that hadn’t known about,” said Kinman. “I felt it was very informative.”
Junior Jeremy Kennedy also attended the event for extra credit as well. Although Kennedy hasn’t studied abroad before, seeing Whalen’s lecture made him change his mind about it.
“His presentation was really informational and it was also persuasive,” he said. “There was a lot of good points that he made.”