The Office of Global Opportunities offers various ways for students to study abroad, expand worldly knowledge

Caine Francis, director of OSU GO, points out on a map one of the destinations of the study abroad programs provided by the Office of Global Opportunities. 

By: Keana Pigg Practicum Contributor

OSU GO makes administrative changes to assist students in study abroad choices.

The Global Opportunities Office, commonly referred to as OSU GO, is the hub for all things international on campus. They work with students who are obtaining an international degree or studying abroad, and students participating in an international internship or service learning program. They also coordinate education abroad scholarships and fellowships.

OSU GO prepares students to graduate with a global perspective, as well as with intercultural skills that give students a competitive edge in the professional marketplace, according to the Office of Global Opportunities webpage. There are over 200 programs in more than 70 countries, designed for students of all backgrounds, interests and educational needs.

One of the many values that OSU GO maintains is transformation, according to the Office of Global Opportunities webpage. Immersing one’s self into a new and unfamiliar culture will change anyone under the circumstances by engaging people in dynamic, high-impact experiences.

“At OSU, we talk a lot about transformative educational experiences, and study abroad hands down fits that,” Kerry Thomas, campus relations manager for the Office of Global Opportunities, said. “Every student that I’ve worked with that has gone abroad has come back completely different. They’ve faced ambiguity and challenges and realize how much bigger the world is and made friends all over the world that they follow up with for the rest of their lives.”

According to Caine Francis, director of OSU GO, he has overseen the many changes within the office.

“One of the things that we are working on is really narrowing down the number of options, not to be restrictive, but to actually make the student’s job easier when choosing from the menu,” Francis said.

This year, OSU GO had a graduate program intern come in and create a database that looked at every single international program OSU offers students to examine all the different aspects of each program, according to Thomas. Such aspects include how many students have gone abroad with each program, how much each program costs and what the academic focuses are. Upon collecting this data, the options were narrowed down to the most unique and desirable programs that met the needs of students, Thomas added.

“This is probably the first time we’ve done this comprehensive level of analysis in a significant chunk of time,” Thomas said. 

While many of the study abroad programs and internships are through IE3 Global, OSU’s study abroad and international internship program, there are multiple partner organizations that offer students more opportunities, according to the Office of Global Opportunities webpage. Partner organizations include the School for International Training, Council on International Educational Exchange, Global Education Oregon, Institute for Study Abroad-Butler University, School for Field Studies, Semester at Sea, SEA Semester and Academic Programs International.

Another major change the office has made is the implementation of tracking prospective students, according to Thomas. This allows the office to see which students are interested and follow up with them throughout the process as they decide when and where they want to go abroad. The prospective student advising and tracking happens within the Getting Started Portal, Thomas added.

“Previously, we didn’t have any comprehensive way of tracking students that showed interest in study abroad until they created an application to go abroad,” Thomas said. “So the Getting Started Portal was the first opportunity for us to really create a space where we could track who those students were while also providing information. We have made some revisions to the content provided in that portal, as well as increasing the responsibilities of the peer advisors.”

According to Melissa Robell, an OSU GO peer advisor, students who are interested in learning more about OSU GO can visit the Office of Global Opportunities webpage and click on Get Started tab. Once a student fills out a questionnaire, they will meet with a peer advisor in order to have any questions in regards to travelling abroad answered. Many students have initial questions about the costs, how to apply for visas and what it is like to leave home, Robell added.

“All of us peer advisors have gone through this process before,” Robell said. “We’ve all been international before. We know what to expect and we can share our experiences and what was difficult for us and try and fix that for incoming students.”

Students must apply for a program at least two terms before the term they want to study abroad for, according to Robell. However, it is important to get started as soon as possible, which is why OSU GO connects students sooner in the process with peer advisors.

According to Thomas, as a former College of Liberal Arts advisor, she understands the academic advising process for undergraduate students. Thomas’ background in student advising has led her to integrate that knowledge into OSU GO and transitioned the previous job of ambassador into peer advisor.

“Sometimes students get a little overwhelmed and maybe hit a pause button without even thinking about it during their pursuit of going abroad,” Thomas said. “And then, if they don’t have someone checking back in and providing encouragement, enough time might pass that going abroad is no longer an option.”

OSU GO will be hosting a weekly seminar series addressing topics and questions about studying abroad, according to Thomas. Topics will include financing students’ study abroad experience, types of international experiences available and benefits of international experiences in a future career, along with general information about how to apply.