Students who have studied abroad are twice as likely to get a job within a year of graduating than students who have not, according to a study. Oklahoma Christian University provides opportunities year-round for students of all majors to spend time abroad and gain valuable skillsets.
Oklahoma Christian’s international programs include semester and summer sessions in Vienna and a summer program in Japan. HonduraServe is a two-week option geared toward nursing, science, Spanish, education and TEFL majors. Additionally, Oklahoma Christian partners with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities for more study abroad program options.
Director of International Programs John Osborne said they added a short-courses option for summer travel to Vienna last year. These are typically discipline-specific, three-hour courses, like engineering. According to Osborne, studying abroad supplements the education students receive at Oklahoma Christian.
“I think [studying abroad] gives you a richer, deeper, fuller part of your education—to learn how to live and learn in another culture,” Osborne said. “It gives you unique opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have. Lots of graduate schools and employers are looking for graduates who have the skills you get on a study abroad program—the ability to function, make decisions and communicate in unfamiliar situations, being able to learn and read situations that are uncomfortable and unfamiliar.”
Students typically ask questions about three things, according to Osborne. These include whether they can meet their academic goals and whether they can afford a study abroad program.
“I would say there is a third motivating factor for students, and I call it ‘the X factor’ because it’s different for every student,” Osborne said. “For some students, it’s where and what are the experiences? For other students the X factor is who else is going—are my friends traveling? Who’s the faculty member that’s traveling? Most of our programs have a mission and service component, so for some students that is what is appealing to them.”
Osborne said the international programs department works to show students studying abroad has what they want.
“We spend a lot of time meeting with students, and we make announcements, but where we really make progress is meeting in small groups and one-on-one,” Osborne said. “We’re very happy to meet with students and share with them.”
Although students have several opportunities every year to study abroad in Vienna, the Asian studies program is only offered in the summer but offers a more immersive experience. Students live with Japanese families and commute to classes at a university every day.
“If you ask the students who do the Asian studies program what their favorite part of the program is, they will tell you it’s the home stays,” Osborne said. “It’s a little bit more intimidating for some, not so much for others.”
Sophomore Grace Goddard is currently in Vienna on the European studies program and said she initially had concerns about achieving her academic goals as a marketing management major.
“I was concerned I was going to be set back a semester because no business classes were going to be offered for me during my semester I am studying abroad,” Goddard said. “Fortunately, my advisors and the study abroad office helped me work out a schedule to go with my four-year degree plan. I am taking a few classes out of order, but it is so worth it.”
Goddard said because she is from Edmond, OK and attends college so close to home, she was curious to get out of her comfort zone and see the world.
“I have always loved the idea of traveling abroad,” Goddard said. “The study abroad program allowed me to travel with some of my best friends all around Europe. Vienna is an amazing location to live because it is centrally located. We have opportunities to go anywhere we could dream because of how easy it is to hop around from country to country.”
According to Osborne, Associate Professor of Bible Grant Testut and his wife, Melissa, will sponsor the fall 2019 Vienna studies program. Students can apply for the fall, spring and summer European studies, short summer courses, HonduraServe and Asian studies programs for 2019 online.