Study Abroad Success
At every Webster University campus around the world, a common part of new student orientation is welcoming students not only to a new campus, but also to a new country.
That was certainly the case during orientation last week at Webster Geneva, where staff and faculty welcomed freshmen, transfer students and study abroad students. This last group — students studying abroad — has steadily grown over the years and has now reached a fall term high of 43 students.
Thanks to its lineup of residential campuses around the globe and a long tradition of sending upper classmen abroad, Webster is uniquely positioned to offer a first-rate academic experience in nine different countries. Opening its doors in 1978, Webster Geneva became the first destination for study abroad students.
The bridge between St Louis and Geneva remains strong to this day. Brandon Bandy and Bridget Carey are pursuing bachelor's degrees in photography and art/graphic design, respectively. Though based at the St. Louis campus, where Webster was founded in 1915, both are studying abroad at Webster Geneva this semester: “We wanted to study abroad," they said. "But we first had to make sure the course offerings were aligned with our areas of study—which is the case at Webster Geneva.”
WINS' Students Experience the 'Geneva Spirit'
Students from affiliated universities interested in an academic semester in Switzerland also come to Webster Geneva thanks to the WINS (Webster International Network of Schools) program spearheaded internationally by Kim McGrath at Webster St Louis. McGrath works closely with WINS partners like Saint Louis University, Northeastern University, Millikin University, Point Loma Nazarene and Marymount University to name just a few. One of the important partners in the WINS program is Kent State University, which has built a particularly meaningful relationship with the Geneva campus over recent years.
Susanne Peters, PhD, a Webster adjunct faculty member of international relations and the Kent State University Geneva Program coordinator, sees the second largest city of Switzerland as a particularly exciting destination for students from Webster University, Kent State University and all the other affiliated institutions of higher learning.
“Geneva is a thriving international city, being the location of many international and non-governmental organizations, promoting human rights, development and the security of the underprivileged of our world," Peters said. "These are the ingredients of the famous ‘Geneva spirit’ to which a study abroad student will be exposed to by numerous opportunities to intern or to visit these organizations, attend conferences and exhibitions and meet remarkably interesting people.”
Discovery 'Outside My Comfort Zone'
Lauryn Platt, who is from Ohio State University and studying abroad via the Kent State University affiliate program, decided to leave the United States for a semester of discovery. “I wanted to experience something out of my comfort zone,” she said. Also, "as an anthropology and history major I am really excited to discover the history and culture of Switzerland.”
Spencer Whelan and Grant Winfield are both studying at Webster Geneva through Kent State University. “My professor encouraged me to study in Europe especially during these exciting times when there is so much happening on the economic front," said Whelan, who is studying towards a bachelor’s in economics. "I am also really amazed by the stunning natural landscapes that are right at Geneva’s doorstep.”
Krista J. Saral, PhD, assistant professor of economics at Webster Geneva, appreciates what students from other campuses bring to her classroom. “Study abroad students bring a high level of dynamism both to the campus and the classroom environment," she said. "Their curiosity of the culture at Webster Geneva is almost tangible and most definitely infectious!”
The Webster Geneva community is one where the diverse members learn much from one another—and the study abroad students contribute greatly to this exchange of ideas and values. Ron Daniel, academic director of the Geneva campus, said, "Each study abroad student brings to Geneva an invaluable academic, cultural and geo-political perspective.”
In welcoming study abroad students to campus last week, Daniel drew a parallel with the United Nations, which lies a few kilometers away from campus. “Unless you decide to work for an organization such as the United Nations, I suspect it could be a long time before you will have a chance to experience such a diversity of colleagues.”
To learn more about partnering with Webster University to offer students study abroad opportunities at one of its residential international campuses, visit the WINS (Webster International Network of Schools) program.
This story was originally published on Webster Today. Photos by Kevin Vachet.