SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Jeremy Powers ’21 had traveled outside of the United States during a mission trip to the Dominican Republic and visited family in Taiwan, but he had never been outside of the country for an extended time until he studied in London.
That experience shaped how he approached and responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the biggest thing I learned about myself was how to be flexible,” says Powers, a finance major from Spartanburg. “This last semester was unlike any other, and we had to make a lot of sudden changes.”
Studying abroad, including navigating a new city, taught him how to adapt.
“My experience was great,” says Powers. “There was so much to do in London, and I enjoyed the mix of learning in the classroom and learning out in the city. Two of my classes, video production and architecture of London, frequently had us meet at locations around the city to learn and explore. My professors were all very friendly and knowledgeable.”
Wofford’s study abroad program is among the highest-ranked nationally by the Institute of International Education (IIE). The institute released its annual Open Doors Report Nov. 16. The college ranks No. 9 in the percentage of students studying abroad for academic credit, No. 12 for short-term study abroad and No. 13 for the total number of students studying abroad among baccalaureate institutions.
“Study abroad and other intercultural experiences provide transformational learning opportunities,” says Amy Lancaster, Wofford’s dean of international programs. “Those who engage in these experiences learn to understand and appreciate views different from their own, a skill that’s critical now more than ever. Learning to adapt and navigate different contexts, communicating in languages other than their own, and becoming better problem solvers involve skills that will prepare our students to solve the world’s most difficult challenges. Quite simply, study abroad engages students in a way that makes them aware of their role in the larger global context.”
Study abroad has long been a popular pursuit of Wofford students, and it’s becoming even more in demand. In 2019, 275 Wofford students studied abroad during Interim (January) and the summer. In 2020, 325 students went abroad just for Interim. Summer and fall travel was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I studied abroad for the first time 20 years ago this year, so I have been reflecting on this decades-long adventure throughout 2020,” says Lancaster. “As someone who had to be coaxed into studying abroad, it is not lost on me the value of our advising and the role our faculty and staff play in encouraging students to consider study abroad. We have been nationally ranked consistently prior to my arrival as a staff member in 2004, and it is no small feat that we have continued such success through an economic recession, a growing student body and ever-changing national trends. We continue to explore ways to engage students who may not have previously considered international study.”
The Institute of International Education released the rankings to start International Education Week (Nov. 16-20). Rankings are based on data from the 2018-19 academic year.