Learning experiences outside the classroom


A treasure hunt that requires picture taking, using a foreign language to shop and paying to use public bathrooms may sound strange. But for a group of students participating in the Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS) traveling to France, it amounts to in-class homework.

Paris, France, with its collection of cathedrals like the 600-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral and monuments that include the Eiffel Tower and D-Day beaches, was the backdrop for the homework Taylor Vick, a Northern Kentucky University junior, describes when she talks about her month-long study abroad experience.

NKU offers students many opportunities to study abroad and receive course credit in the process. In preparation for the upcoming school year’s trips, the Office of Education Abroad at NKU is hosting a Study Abroad Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 19 in the Student Union Ballroom.

Beth Lorenz, study abroad advisor for the Office of Education Abroad, said there are over 40 countries where NKU students can study. There are scholarships available to assist qualified students with the cost of travel.

Lorenz said to qualify for a scholarship of up to $3,000 a NKU student must have a 2.5 GPA and must have a current completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file at NKU.

There are 20 academic exchanges available, Lorenz said. They range from advertising and public relations to psychology. Travel occurs during fall and winter semesters as well as during spring and summer breaks.

“There are plenty of opportunities and employers are looking for people with a global view,” Lorenz said. “It can help you find your niche in the world.”
KIIS has been sending students to destinations that include Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe since 1975. NKU’s Office of Education Abroad is a member of KIIS along with about 25 other Kentucky Universities.

Vick, a French major, was one of 30 students who had an opportunity to go to France in June 2012 as a part of a study abroad program based out of Western Kentucky University.

“It was an eye-opening experience,” Vick said. “It was really cool to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself.”

One challenge involved navigating through markets where each shop is run by a person that specializes in what they sell. “You don’t just pick up what you want while shopping, you have to tell the shopkeeper what you want, in French, and they use their expertise to pick out the best item for you,” she said.

The other challenge was paying to use public bathrooms. “The bathrooms were pretty much what we are used to here in the United States, but you have to pay an attendant to use them,” Vick said.

It was all a learning experience, she said.

“It introduces you to more of the world, teaches you to accept other cultures and other traditions that are not your own.”

Vick said that some of the most exciting parts of her experience included an assignment where her French professor sent students on a scavenger hunt to have their pictures taken in front of French fountains and monuments.

“We had to ask the locals, in French, to take our pictures,” Vick said. “It forced us to talk to the locals in their language.”
Vick said students should, “go for it, it’s worth every minute.”

For more information about the Study Abroad Fair or about studying abroad, visit www.studyabroad.nku.edu.