In case you didn’t know, September is USAC’s birthday month, and this year marks 39 years of providing authentic and affordable study abroad experiences to students around the country. As we gear up for another 39 years of operation, we’ve been reminiscing about the impact our programs have made on the lives of our students. Keep reading for some of the ways USAC study abroad has influenced more than 50,000 students since 1982.
USAC Study Abroad Has Helped Students Achieve Their Academic Goals
First and foremost, USAC study abroad programs are academically driven to provide students with a top-quality experience that enhances their education. Whether you are studying a second language, majoring in STEM, or something else, USAC has a program for you. Our programs are designed to add to your college education and help you earn credits towards your degree without delaying graduation.
USAC also provides courses that aren’t offered at your home university. Cultural courses, like sailing, dance, and cuisine, allow students to immerse further into their host communities alongside your degree requirements.
USAC Study Abroad Has Pushed Students Out Of Their Comfort Zones
For the majority of our students, making the decision to study abroad is a giant leap outside of their comfort zones, and that in itself is a huge accomplishment.
Study abroad, no matter where you land, will push you and help you grow in ways you never expected. Culture shock, learning a new language, meeting new friends, and developing a new perspective for the world around you will inevitably shape you into a new and improved citizen of the world. Embrace the change!
USAC Study Abroad Scholarships Make International Programs Accessible
One of the biggest concerns students have when exploring their study abroad options is finances. Unfortunately, study abroad isn’t free, but USAC scholarships help make our already affordable programs even more accessible.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, USAC is able to reward scholarships to students every term, helping students with different backgrounds, study abroad goals, and academic dreams pursue an international education.
USAC Study Abroad Resources Empower Underrepresented Students
One study abroad myth is that it isn’t available to everyone. Despite historical trends and current misconceptions, USAC study abroad is open to students from of all identities, including LGBTQ+ students, ethnic and racial minorities, first-generation students, and those with high financial need.
In order to support each and every student the best we can, USAC has spent the last 39 years forming a menu of programs in a wide range of locations that best fits their needs. Additionally, we rely on our diverse network of alumni, Resident Directors, and Central Office staff to help craft diversity-focused content, such as:
- Studying abroad as an LGBTQ+ student (podcast episode)
- Studying abroad as an underrepresented student (podcast episode)
- Studying abroad as a Black student in China (blog post)
- Studying abroad as a first-generation student (info session)
- Studying abroad while managing your mental health (blog post)
- Studying abroad as a veteran (blog post)
Our goal in providing these resources is to empower students of underrepresented communities to internationalize their education.
USAC Virtual Opportunities Supported Students Through A Global Pandemic
We couldn’t publish a recap blog without mentioning COVID-19. The pandemic threw the world upside down, and study abroad was impacted heavily by border closures, health and safety measures, and a general fear of the unknown. Many students’ study abroad programs were cut short in the Spring of 2020, and we’ve had to shift focus to continue to provide international experiences safely.
Enter the USAC Global Perspectives Program. Through online courses and virtual internships, USAC students were able to engage with international staff, earn credits towards their degrees, and gain valuable job experience from the safety of their own homes.
““I will tell you that this internship taught me the only real-world knowledge that I have in my tool belt, still, after two semesters of business classes. The internship should even be mandatory for international business majors. It is not just a temporary internship. I have made connections with people in other countries that I would have never had access to without this internship... This internship was a catalyst that started a domino effect of other greater opportunities I have received that have matured me, shown me what I like, what I don’t, and have shown me my worth.” – Karen, USAC Virtual Internship participant
“I realized something about myself: as long as I put in effort, I can create a lot of value for a company. Not only that, but I realized digital marketing was my calling. I have never enjoyed a job so much. In a single summer, the opportunity granted to me from USAC allowed me to test out the waters of a digital marketing career and inspired me to dive into the career without hesitation… This experience has landed me interviews with a wide variety of businesses ranging from Fortune 500 companies to local startups. Every day, I am reminded of the incredible value my USAC virtual internship has given me. As a result, I now eagerly send my resume to potential employers and confidently share my experiences during my job interviews.” – Tyler, USAC Virtual Internship participant
USAC Study Abroad Encourages Students To Give Back To Their Host Communities
Study abroad is a two-way street, and students should think about how their presence impacts the community around them. Through internships and volunteering, USAC students are encouraged to leave a positive mark on their host cities as a way to say “thank you” to the place they get to call home during their time abroad.
For many students, volunteering is the perfect opportunity to immerse in the local culture, practice their language, meet locals, and make an impact on the lives of locals. From participating in beach cleanups to teaching English to local school children, we offer a plethora of volunteer opportunities abroad, and the experience of giving back is just as transformative for our students as it is for the communities they are serving.
USAC Study Abroad Helps Students Land Their Dream Jobs
By now you’ve probably heard a few different ways that study abroad can boost your resume and help you stand out to future employers. From learning a second language to building personal confidence, there’s a lot that study abroad can do for you.
In Season 1 of the Students Beyond Borders podcast, we spoke with a two-time USAC alumna who turned her study abroad experiences into a job in international education. You can listen to Mary Alice’s full interview here: