Expanding international options for BSU students

For students interested in studying abroad, there has never been a better time to be enrolled at Bemidji State University.

BSU students currently have opportunities to study abroad in the university’s long-running EuroSpring and Sino Summer programs, and BSU’s international study and teaching options will soon undergo significant expansion as a result of exchange agreements with universities in China and a number of other countries.

EuroSpring and SinoSummer are faculty-lead programs that allow BSU students to pay tuition and fees, earning course credit for a life-changing experience of travel and study. Students learn through active engagement and experience new people and cultures in an immersive environment.

EuroSpring, a 15-credit academic program that runs annually from mid-March through mid-May, is Bemidji State’s longest-running study-abroad program, running annually since the 1969-70 academic year.

The program begins with orientations and pre-trip workshops during the fall, then gets underway with five weeks of study at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford, England. Each student who participates in EuroSpring is enrolled in a main lecture course taught by Dr. Allan Chapman, who presents an annual lecture at BSU in the fall. Students then choose two courses from a selection of seven covering a variety of topics related to Medieval Europe. Students also have opportunities to visit museums and historical sites, and participate in a number of cultural activities.

After completing the study sessions, the travelers embark on a three-week European tour. The tour kicks off in Paris, then travels through a number of cities in five different countries.

The 2013 EuroSpring program has 29 students enrolled and is full, which according to Cherish Hagen-Swanson, director of BSU’s International Program Center, is a typical enrollment.

EuroSpring costs approximately $15,000, which includes 15 academic credits at Bemidji State, all scheduled travel, lodging, and most meals at Wycliffe Hall and on the European tour.

Sino Summer
Running annually for more than two decades, Bemidji State’s 12-credit Sino Summer program is part of a long-standing partnership Liaoning University in Shenyang, China. Like EuroSpring, the program combines an academic program with a tour of China, but is shorter in duration. While EuroSpring is 55 days, SinoSummer is a 25-day program.

SinoSummer begins with orientation sessions and pre-trip workshops in the spring. While at Lianoning University, students will live in foreign-student housing. Following a two-week study period at Lianoning, trip participants will spend two weeks touring northeastern, north-central and southern China.

SinoSummer costs approximately $9,500, which includes tuition and fees for 12 academic credits and trip-related expenses. As with EuroSpring, some meals are not included.

In addition to the standing programs, BSU students also are free to assemble their own independent-study exchange programs. On a normal year, Swanson says the university has between five and 10 students who arrange their own exchange opportunities. Last year, BSU students studied in Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, Swaziland and New Zealand.

“Doing your own thing is always an option,” Swanson said. “This allows students who want to try other things with an opportunity to go where they want to go.”

For BSU students, the process for applying to EuroSpring, SinoSummer, or to request independent study options, is simple and straight-forward; application forms are available in the International Program Center, located in Deputy Hall 103.

Students interested in international study must have completed at least their freshman year and have a cumulative grade-point average of 2.0 or above. SinoSummer is also open to non-BSU students; the center has information on how non-students can participate in the program.

Future international opportunities
These existing international study options serve as a solid foundation for the rapid expansion of international study and teaching opportunities that is expected to take place over the next year.

The university is actively seeking opportunities for BSU students to spend entire semesters, or in some cases even a full year, studying or teaching in China, and is working to keep the cost of these programs as close to the cost of tuition as possible. BSU also is working to develop similar relationships with other countries in Europe and Asia.

This May, the first of these new opportunities will kick off when Dr. Del Lyren, professor of music, and five music students depart for a month at Weifang University in Weifang, China, to teach electronic music.

In March, the University will sign exchange agreements with two universities in China that could potentially open dozens of low-cost, semester-long study opportunities for BSU students, and is close to finalizing a similar agreement with an institution in Switzerland. BSU also has an exchange agreement in place with Weifang University that could allow as many as 25 BSU students to spend a semester there beginning in the fall of 2013, once details on the agreement are finalized.

However, Dr. Martin Tadlock, BSU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, doesn’t foresee these new options interfering with the university’s existing international programs, such as EuroSpring and SinoSummer, as long as students continue to be interested in participating.

“As long as there are students that want to pursue these experiences, they should remain as an option for students,” Tadlock said. “For example, SinoSummer is not a full semester abroad, so it’s an option for students who may wish to experience China but may not want to go abroad for a whole semester. It all will depend on student demand.”

For more information, contact the International Program Center, (218) 755-4096, international@bemidjistate.edu.

International Program Center
International Program Center on Facebook
Wycliffe Hall
Weifang University, China (no English-language version)
• Dec, 2012, story on BSU’s articulation agreement with Weifang University