Don’t just study abroad, learn abroad

This year, due to re-branding efforts, the Study Abroad office no longer exists.

Students looking to spend time overseas through the university must go through the Education Abroad office — a name newly-created to be more inclusive of the various programs available abroad.


Although this may seem like a minor change due to the fact that “study” and “education” are often used as synonyms, those in the university’s Office of International programs believe that this name better describes the services that are offered to outbound CSU students.

Laura Thornes, director of the Education Abroad office, within the Office of International programs, attributes the change to a national trend away from students pursuing classroom-exclusive abroad experiences.

The Office of International Programs is part of the Association of International Educators (NAFSA).

According to Thornes, NAFSA has been pushing for the name “Study Abroad” to be changed for years, and many universities have complied with different variations of the name “Education Abroad.”

“(Rebranding is) lining up our unit with what is happening nationally,” said Thornes.

The rebranding of the now-Education Abroad office will likely continue to be a long process, involving re-training of employees and popularization of the new name among students.

Kayla Rivers, a senior majoring in finance and one of six Education Abroad peer advisors, believes that the name change is positive because it is encompassing of all of the opportunities that the office offers, she realizes that the switch may not be natural and that many students may still come to her asking about for “study abroad” help.

“I hope that (students) will think of (the Education Abroad office) in more broad terms, but I think that it will take awhile for students to really think of ‘Education Abroad’ as ‘Study Abroad,’” Rivers said. “It will take a few years, but soon ‘Education Abroad’ will be what first comes to mind.”

Instead of viewing what is offered in the Education Abroad office simply as the opportunity to take classes in a different country, students should consider the four categories of abroad experiences available through the university: study, internship, service learning and research.

In reality, any time that students leave the country for a CSU-sponsored program, they must go through the Education Abroad office. Last spring, for example, each marching band student who traveled to Ireland for a competition had to register through Education Abroad, where it was ensured that he or she had health and safety precautions like international insurance.


Jim Cooney, the CSU Vice Provost for International Affairs, said that the switch from “Study Abroad” to “Education Abroad” was an easy decision — one that he and others in the Office of International Programs have been thinking about for several years.

Cooney believes that while traditional study abroad experiences are important, recently the most exciting abroad opportunities have been distinctly non-traditional.

He cited examples such as the Global Challenges for Engineers research trip to China, supported in part by Thornes. Cooney said that not only will such experiences allow students to learn from their travel destination but students will gain a new perspective on their own education back home.

“For one reason or another, I think everyone comes back from an education abroad experience saying, ‘I had an incredible time,’” Cooney said. “It may just be for a reason you don’t expect.”

Collegian Staff Writer Ellie Mulder can be reached at