WKU brings its ‘international reach’ home

The following story was an assignment for a journalism capstone course. It covers an event that occurred on Feb. 6.

Western Kentucky University’s Mass Media and Technology Hall welcomed more than a dozen countries into its lobby on Wednesday, Feb. 6.

WKU’s Study Abroad Fair, with about 10 tables lining the walls in MMTH, introduced students to travel opportunities available to them while they are still in school. With cookies and candy providing an extra incentive to visit certain tables, instructors manned stations to answer any questions students had.

Greg Kedenburg, a Bowling Green graduate assistant at the Study Abroad and Global Learning Office, said WKU partners with other universities in the world to make studying abroad more manageable and affordable.

“One of the biggest advantages is the financial aspects,” Kedenburg said.

When WKU students study abroad with the exchange program, they pay in-state tuition. WKU has various exchange partners in Asia, Europe, North America and South America. An allure to the program is that students pay the same price for higher education in Taiwan and Germany as they do in Bowling Green, Ky.

But Katherine Hale, a study abroad adviser and WKU alumna, said there is more to the program than financial perks.

“Another advantage is that the students get a good cultural immersion aspect,” Hale said.

The exchange program draws several incoming and outgoing students every semester. In fall 2012, 20 students came to WKU from other countries through the exchange program. This semester, three students have come to WKU, and 14 WKU students have gone abroad.

Oakland City, Ind., senior Micheal Hayden studied in Saint Etienne, France, from fall 2011 to spring 2012. He said he had never taken any French classes before going, but as an international business major, he decided it was a good trip for him to take.

“I don’t want to sound cheesy, but it was the best experience of my life,” Hayden said.

Because of the exchange program Hayden chose, he said he was “essentially a student at both [WKU and the school in France].” The in-state tuition and the fact that all his credits were transferable appealed to him.

Overall, Hayden said the exchange program or any study abroad opportunity at WKU can be valuable to students.

“Being able to understand and recognize differences and still form close cultural relationships [with people from other countries] is a really good experience,” Hayden said. “The world is such a big place, I think it’s a shame not to go out and explore it.”

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