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Studying Abroad and The Center for Global Learning

Scott Keller, director of The Center for Global Learning, answers questions about studying abroad.

Q. Describe your journey before you landed here at Saint Peter’s University as the director of The Center for Global Learning?

A. I was a finance major at the Miami University in Ohio and I took a study abroad course to Poland where I wanted to reconnect with my family heritage and learn the language. I came back and changed my major to history. After graduation, I returned to Poland to teach English. Then, I worked for L’Arche in France and practiced my foreign language skills. I decided to move back to the United States to Boston, because it seemed like a cool city. While I was there waiting tables, a customer suggested that I work for Club Med. Club Med hired me because of my language skills and I worked in Mexico and later in the South Pacific. One night on the cruise ship, I had a talk with myself about getting serious about my life. I came back to the states and worked for various travel, humanitarian travel and “voluntourism” companies. I also have experience working for universities such as Neumann University in Aston, Pa. and Clark University in Worcester, Mass. before coming here to Saint Peter’s.

Q. What advice do you have for current students who are interested in traveling abroad?

A. Do not be afraid. It seems scary to leave your friends and family but trust that we will take care of you. Sometimes you have to get uncomfortable but it is so worth it.

Q. What are additional benefits to studying abroad?

A. On a professional level, it looks great on your resume because it shows diversity, confidence, foreign language skills, resilience and adaptability. Personally, it gives you confidence. It gives you the space to wonder, “Where else have I been holding back?” It builds character.

Q. When is the best time to study abroad, and start the study abroad process?

A. Studying abroad is a great place to take core classes, so go early. For example, students can study the humanities in London, art in Madrid, theology in Rome or history in Seoul.

For full semester study abroad, sophomore or junior year is the best time to go. Ideally, students would start discussing options with me during their freshman year; reserving some of their core classes for their semester abroad. Applications are accepted one semester prior to departure.

To start the process, students should come to The Center for Global Learning in the Mac Mahon Student Center on the 5th floor. Before coming to me, they should think about what country they find the most appealing, and then discuss their plans with their family and academic advisor. Also, students who do not have passports should start the application process.

Q. What programs does the University offer?

A. The University offers so many programs and options. If you have a passion, we can find a program for you. There are semester, summer, travel course and internship options.

Students can study abroad for a semester or for a year and still graduate on time. There are programs in hundreds of places in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and South America.

Faculty-led travel courses are a great option for those not ready to make a semester-long commitment. Some recent travel courses included Pre-Colombian Cultures in southwest America and Shakespeare’s Italy.

There are also career development and internship programs that are popular. Such as the Leave UR Mark program in India, which is a favorite with biology and pre-med majors. Learn more about about Leave UR Mark here.

Q. What is new and exciting in The Center for Global Learning?

A. Students now have more options as we just confirmed exchange programs with three Jesuit universities: the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines and two universities in Spain: Comillas University and the University of Deusto.

Q. Do you have advice for seniors?

A. Since I am kind of an expert at alternate careers, I would be happy to chat with seniors more about options after they graduate, such as teaching English abroad or working on an organic farm with a program such as WWOOF.

Q. Any final thoughts?

A. Just do it! Do it before life gets crazy.

Interested in learning more about studying abroad? Scott Keller can be reached via e-mail at skeller1@saintpeters.edu or by phone at (201) 761-6028. Attend an upcoming information session to learn more about offered programs. The next general study abroad information session is scheduled for February 22 from noon – 1:00 p.m. in conference room 525 in the Mac Mahon Student Center. Visit saintpeters.edu/global-learning/students for more information.