A BYU education isn’t limited to classroom instruction. Even the sign on the edge of campus says, “The World is Our Campus” and students have the opportunity to take that seriously.
Many BYU students come and go without ever exploring the opportunities for international study and professional experience available to them through university channels. The David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies isn’t just for students majoring in international studies, it’s a resource center for anyone interested in broadening their world view and gaining international experience. The Kennedy Center provides a wide variety of study abroad programs that cater to a myriad of interests.
Hadley Jarvis, a senior from Alpine, studying art history, said her European study abroad program enriched her education by allowing her to experience first-hand the works of art that she had seen so many times in textbooks.
“With my major, I have a different view on artwork I have studied because I have seen them in context and I have that visual, personal connection with them now,” Jarvis said.
Study abroad programs are academic in nature and students who participate in these programs are enrolled in classes through BYU. However, rather than sitting in a classroom on campus, they go out into the world to learn. Most study abroad classes fulfill BYU general studies requirements, and often many fulfill requirements for major coursework also. Either way, participating in a study abroad helps students be more prepared to participate academically and professionally. The experience that Jarvis gained in Europe helped her get an internship with the Museum of Art at BYU.
“I have more to pull from when researching or discussing because I was there,” Jarvis said. “It wasn’t just in a dark classroom where I saw the art pieces.”
Ross Andrus, a senior majoring in statistics said his experience has opened him up to a world of possibilities that he once shied away from.
“I’m kind of a risk-averse person. Just the experience of going out and doing new things that I would have never done without that opportunity and it has made me more interested in trying new things,” Andrus said, adding that the art, culture and history he experienced helped him to hold more interesting conversations in interviews with potential employers.
“It’s something that I didn’t expect, but I’ve really come to appreciate,” he said.
Though the Kennedy Center doesn’t have study abroad programs that cater to every individual’s interests, they do have other options for international study and experience. Students can coordinate to participate in international internships, international field studies and direct enrollment programs.
Internships offer students the chance to gain professional experience in their chosen field, while direct enrollment programs offer students the chance to temporarily study at a foreign university like Cambridge or Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
International field studies are perfect for individuals who have unique interests. Students interested in international field studies work with a faculty member to create a research project or creative project of their choosing. They live as locals in their chosen region and immerse themselves in the culture.
Apart from the rich educational experience gained by taking part in international opportunities, many students enjoy spiritual growth by serving in local wards and branches of the Church.
Leslie Macfarlane, a junior from Provo studying accounting, said serving as a young women’s teacher in London opened her eyes to how universal the gospel is.
“When you’re there you meet a lot of people and get to be a part of the culture, but you don’t really understand or know what they go through until you’re surrounded by people who have lived there their whole lives,” Macfarlane said. “It’s just really cool.”