WKU Germany Study Abroad program seeks higher student interest

Molly English

Dr. Laura McGee said a common misconception is that students think studying abroad is for later in their college careers.

McGee, the Department Head of Modern Languages, will be taking her fifth group of students abroad to Germany this coming May.

“Each year I have a different theme and a different co-leader,” McGee said.

The theme this year is “The Media in Germany,” where she will co-lead with Jo-Anne Ryan, M.S., who is an Associate Professor and the Assistant Director for the School of Journalism and Broadcasting.

The program so far has six students affirmed to go.

“I would like to take about 10 to 12 students,” McGee said. “It takes the same amount of work for six students as it does for 10.”

To recruit more students into the program, a booth was set up at the study abroad fair. McGee also visited many classrooms, set up a Facebook page and sent direct emails and postcards to eligible freshman and sophomore students.

McGee said she strives to spark the interest of freshmen and sophomores

“The concept of a 20-day program is to get acquainted with the bigger world, so maybe (the students) will want to stay longer for an internship or a full semester,” she said.

Recent graduate Kyle McCord went on a previous program similar to the one in May while he was attending WKU. The trip inspired him to spend a full semester abroad.

McCord is currently in Reutlingen, German.

“Studying abroad has given me some of the best memories and experience in the pursuit of my degree,” McCord said via email. “Honestly, the experience has affected me profoundly, both personally and professionally.”

Originally the prerequisites for attending the trip were German 102 or higher and an interest in the media. Since the program only received a small number of people able to attend the trip, the two leaders dropped the prerequisites.

“We’re making it available to all students who are interested in the media since most of the trip will be focused on visiting media sites,” McGee said.

While touring Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Bonn, the group will be speaking with journalists, visiting newspapers, radio and TV stations and the federal press office.

Also, in Hamburg and Bonn, they will be visiting journalism universities.

The trip will cost $2,500 plus $150 for tuition for the three credit hours they will be gaining. Included in the trip is the flight, all accommodations, all entry fees, all tours, two meals a day and transportation.

Each student will have to provide an ISIC card (Passport), insurance, one meal a day and spending money for souvenirs and snacks.

While on the trip each student will receive three credit hours that they will get to pick from the Journalism/BCOM 481 credit or a German credit.

“Since we changed the no previous German rule for this trip, we have altered the credits given towards German,” McGee said.

Students can receive credit for German 100, if they have no previous German. Students with German 102 can earn German 211 credit and students who has already taken German 202 can earn the German 306 credit, or they can opt for the journalism classes.

Scholarships are available to students to make the financial burden a little easier. Students can apply for the World Topper Scholarship and the SGA travel scholarship. Honors students can apply for the HTAG scholarship. Any student receiving Pell grant is also eligible for the Gilman grant.

McGee wants as many students as possible to go on the trip and encourages as many students as she can.

“I find it exciting to help students from Kentucky learn to travel and experience another culture first hand by living inside it,” she said.

As apart of the trip, the students will be living with a host family. McGee has stayed in contact with two high schools in Berlin, Germany, which generally provide host families that volunteer to let the students stay with them during the program.

On the first day of the trip the group will be traveling to Berlin where they will be staying in a hostel for two days so the students can get familiar with a new country and how things will be running.

“Not only do we want to show them the culture, we want to teach them the culture,” she said. “We teach them the public transit right away, so that they know how to travel around the country by themselves.”

The program focuses on culturing the students as well as introducing them to the world of travel.

“If you’re thinking about it, you already want to anyway,” McCord said. “Once you make the decision, the rest of the pieces seem to just fall into place relatively easily.”

The program is accepting applications until Feb. 15, which can be found in the Modern Languages department on the second floor of FAC.

More information can be found about the trip of their Facebook page — WKU in Germany Study Abroad Fan Page — and on the WKU Study Abroad website.

Information for scholarships can also be found on the Study Abroad page.