A broad experience
Additional reporting by Brooke Auxier ’10
Students who opt for
international study find unique ways to take the journey a step further
Ask Kate Hart ’08 where she studied abroad, and she places Scotland’s University of Stirling at a 45-minute train ride northeast of Edinburgh. Likewise, Nick Snyder ’08 uses the nearest train station to pinpoint the London location of the University of Westminster’s Harrow campus, where he took film classes in fall 2006.
Like many others who have spent time abroad during their college years, for Hart and Snyder the railway meant connectedness, its network of track binding them to places near and far. It made the world navigable, accessible and relevant.
The same could be said of the overseas experience itself. Whether they work, study or volunteer, students who throw themselves wholly into the culture and community they encounter make connections within themselves, with others and with the world – connections that continue to serve them long after they come home (if they ever do).
Finding your way in life can be challenging even in the comfort of your native country; doing so while scaling cultural and linguistic obstacles takes some pluck. That’s what Alissa Schoen ’10 realized when she began student-teaching in the small New Zealand town of Swanson in October. Her Year 4 students’ fascination with her made it clear that she wasn’t alone in her cultural uncertainty. Of her first day in the classroom, she says, “This kid raises his hand and goes, ‘Uh, miss, are you from Hollywood?’”
Because simply being in New Zealand and answering questions like that one took Schoen so far outside herself, she says, “Teaching ended up becoming second nature to me.”
Schoen’s growth is typical of students who immerse themselves in an unfamiliar culture, says Joyce Tullbane (Study Abroad). “They’ve had to deal with a lot of unexpected situations overseas, and they’ve learned to cope.”
Many do more than cope; they thrive. “A lot of students who were very involved and busy here are going to be very involved and busy there, as well,” Tullbane adds.
It’s a given that students who choose to spend time abroad have a sense of adventure. But for some, their wanderlust goes deeper. They explore a foreign country and culture while exploring their own minds and hearts.
It’s the same for the international students at St. Norbert, too. De Pere is their study-abroad experience.
In the case of Anh Tran ’11, a native of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, exploration abroad went as deep as his soul. Through an internship with Campus Ministry’s residence hall-based ALIVE Team, he has helped plan social and faith-based programs. “St. Norbert has given me many opportunities to grow as a leader,” says Tran. “I was definitely challenged to become a spiritual leader.”
His involvement with the entrepreneurial group Students in Free Enterprise is another example. “I not only develop my interpersonal and presentation skills, but enhance my ability to work with others as well,” he says.
Nick Snyder ’08 developed an interest in film while making his way through St. Norbert’s graphic design program, but the college didn’t offer any courses on the subject. That led him to scrap his original plan to spend a semester in Florence, opting instead for a program in London that featured classes like European Cinema, British Culture and the Media, and Cinema Landmarks. His overseas coursework clinched it: Snyder is now pursuing an M.F.A. in film directing at Chapman University Film School in Orange County, Calif. And he’s certain the global consciousness he developed in London, both as a student and during a year’s work there after graduation, helped him secure a spot in the competitive graduate program.
For Tallulah (Matsen) Caulfield ’07, two semesters at Macquarie University in Sydney led her to a life she never would have imagined. Unlike many of her American peers who chose not to work while studying abroad, the communications major took a job as a caregiver for people with disabilities and attended church, which she hadn’t done at home.
“I was lucky enough to gain insight into the Australian work ethic and life outside the classroom,” she said. “I met tons of people, and many Australians.”
Among them: her husband, Michael. Caulfield had returned to Australia to work for Toshiba after graduating; he worked there, as well, and his interest in baseball and American sports brought the two together. The couple still live in Sydney.
For some, deep engagement in the life and culture of another country uncovers possibilities for their life’s work. Take Carli Arendt ’10. She spent a semester studying at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, and volunteering in the rural community of Ndumo, near Mozambique. While there, she says, “I became ill from drinking the river water that these communities relied on for survival.”
Reflecting on that experience, the geology major saw a way to combine her interest in science with her humanitarian spirit. She will focus her graduate studies in hydrogeology at the University of Michigan on making uncontaminated water a sustainable commodity.
Justin Kluesner ’10 also found direction for his future overseas. During a semester at the Foundation for International Education in London, the political science major immersed himself in an internship and volunteer experience with Penal Reform International, a nonprofit organization focused on prison reform and restorative justice.
“Volunteering with PRI was especially exciting because I got to expand my definition of community to those all across the world,” he says. “Meeting with people who have experienced prisons in these nations reminded me that we have a stake in the lives of others, not just those around us.”
Spurred by those lessons, Kluesner committed to a year’s AmeriCorps service after graduation. What’s more, he is exploring work in restorative justice thereafter.
Like Kluesner and Arendt, St. Norbert study-abroad advisor Jeremy Doughty ’05 returned from his international experiences a different person with a different worldview. First, he spent a year of high school in Germany. “I lived with a host family, I went to a German high school, I made German friends,” he says.
He studied in Germany again during college. Then, after graduating, he spent two years in rural Ukraine as a Peace Corps volunteer and fell in love with another culture.
“We would sit at the table for three, four, five hours and we would all just talk,” he says. “After a few hours they would bring out either a guitar or an accordion and everyone else would start singing.”
Driven by such experiences, Doughty now pushes students to consider paths less traveled when selecting study-abroad destinations. After all, he knows firsthand the confidence and connectedness such choices can foster.
“Every once in a while I’ll have someone come into my office and ask about Morocco or Ghana,” he says. “It makes me happy to hear.”
International study by the numbers
Why do so many St. Norbert students study abroad? Joyce Tullbane (Study Abroad) says the college’s policy of allowing students to apply all their scholarships and financial aid to their tuition abroad helps explain it.
St. Norbert students aren’t the only ones headed abroad. Young people from all over the world call the De Pere campus their temporary home.
- 30 Percentage of St. Norbert students who spend a semester abroad
- 2 Percentage of all U.S. college students who study abroad
- 75 Number of study-abroad programs St. Norbert offers
- 37 Countries represented by those programs
- 6 Continents represented by those programs
- 30 Number of countries of origin of St. Norbert’s international students
- 108 International students on campus during the spring semester
- 60 ESL students attending St. Norbert
- 8 Percentage of total student body composed of international and ESL students
St. Norbert students abroad do more than just study:
- Carli Arendt ’10 mentored rural youth and volunteered at an AIDS orphanage in South Africa.
- Alicia Bunnell ’10 joined the dance team at Bond University in Australia.
- Ja Chaiyaphruk ’10, a native of Thailand, worked with the St. Norbert Times for three years and studied abroad “from abroad,” leaving St. Norbert to spend fall 2008 in Salzburg, Austria. While there, she visited England, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and France.
- Rebecca Doll ’11 interned with web-based PR firm WhoseView.ie in Ireland.
- Sheena Frydrych ’05 walked the Great Wall of China, went bungee jumping, attended a mud festival and went shark diving while in South Korea.
- Kate Hart ’08 sang in the Stirling University Choir and stage-managed a student production at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival while in Scotland.
- Allison Harvey ’11 went extreme night sledding in the Alps in Switzerland while studying in Italy.
- Bill Johanek ’06 played softball and rugby at the University of Limerick in Ireland.
- Twamanguluka Nambili ’13, a Namibian native, was elected a freshman representative in St. Norbert’s Student Government Association. (Learn more about Nambili in this @St. Norbert article.)
- Laura Pickart ’10 volunteered at the Australia Zoo.
- Alissa Schoen ’10 hiked a volcano and went blackwater rafting (also known as cave tubing) in New Zealand.
- Anh Tran ’11, a Vietnam native, was elected co-president of Discovery International, a nonprofit charitable organization operated by international business majors at St. Norbert.