What Do St. Olaf Students Learn by Studying Abroad and Away?
St. Olaf College has been a national leader for decades in the number of students who study abroad each year. What do Oles learn from studying abroad and away from campus?
Smith Center for Global Engagement Director Jodi Malmgren ’92 says when thinking about what students gain from participating in study abroad programs, it’s helpful to use the acronym AVID: Academic, Vocational, Intercultural, and Developmental learning.
Students study courses in their discipline but from another perspective, enhance their language skills, or try an elective course, all while completing St. Olaf requirements. They then bring that learning back to their on-campus courses and peers.
Students have opportunities for applied learning, such as a research project or internship, as well as opportunities to reflect on their goals, skills, and interests. All of that can help guide their vocational discernment and future career path.
Being in a new community is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about yourself and your identity, while seeing that other people live differently and embrace different values. Students learn deeply about how to engage with people who are different from them and about the new communities in which they temporarily reside.
Study abroad/away offers the opportunity to develop one’s independence, maturity, and skills. Students might learn to use public transportation, cook for themselves, navigate immigration and customs, solve a problem, register in a new academic system, take care of their own health care, or any one of many similar tasks.