Foggy Bottom may seem less crowded this semester with a record high number of students studying abroad.
More GW students than ever before are studying abroad this semester with about a 10 percent increase this spring compared to last, said Director of Study Abroad Rob Hallworth.
“More and more students are coming to the University with the expectation that they’ll study abroad,” Hallworth said. “The process itself seems to be fairly standard,” he added, noting that the application process has remained the same for the past few years.
“Study abroad is getting more and more popular everywhere,” said Laura Ochs, a study abroad adviser. “I think that the numbers we’re seeing in the office are due to that trend.”
Ochs credited the Focus on Fall Abroad program, which gives some perks to students who study aboard in the fall semester. About 400 students studied abroad last fall, compared with 300 during the fall 2005 semester, she said. This semester about 960 students are studying abroad compared to 600 in spring, 2006, Hallworth said.
The Focus on Fall Abroad program gives students who study abroad during the fall semester priority registration for spring classes and guaranteed housing in a Living and Learning Community in New Hall or City Hall when they return, among other benefits. A $1,500 break in tuition, room and board is also given to students who study at any of the GW Study Centers, located in London, Paris, Madrid, Buenos Aires and Santiago.
University administrators explained the advantages of studying abroad for a student’s educational experience.
“We live in an international world, and more students are realizing they need international exposure,” said Carol Sigelman, associate vice president of Academic Affairs.
While there have not been many recent changes to the process students complete study abroad through GW, students involved in the study abroad process have generally favorable impressions of the program.
“It’s kind of like applying to college all over again,” senior Luna Ross said of the study abroad process. She studied at the University of Oxford fall semester of her junior year. “It’s especially difficult during the semester when you also have work to do for classes, but it’s totally worth it once you’re done.”
Other students who studied abroad last semester said while the overall experience was a good one, the amount of paperwork in preparation can be stressful.
“At times the paperwork made the process very stressful,” wrote junior Diana Pierzchala in an e-mail. “On top of doing your school work and going to classes I found myself running all over campus getting signatures from advisers, deans, notaries, etc.”
Another challenge can be preparing for the return back to campus after studying abroad. Senior Adam Wallick said registering for housing while studying aboard in Spain was difficult.
“Finding housing was a lot more stressful,” he wrote in an e-mail. “On the housing day, I was online trying to make last minute changes with people as all the good rooms were being taken, which is a lot harder to do when you’re 4,000 miles away from home and can’t really call anyone.”
-Marc Alberg contributed to this report.