International Studies Program offers travel opportunities for students of all majors

Shanae Giles, Staff Writer

Francis Marion University’s International Studies Program (ISP), also known as the Study Abroad Program, offers a chance for students to gain college credit and experience life in another country.

For approximately the same cost a student would pay per semester at Francis Marion, students can choose to study abroad in one of five countries available in the program: Canada, Ireland, England, France or Germany.

Seven FMU students are currently studying abroad.

Dr. Jon Tuttle, an English professor at FMU, currently serves as the coordinator for the ISP.

“You have a firsthand encounter with people from other cultures,” Tuttle said.

According Tuttle, FMU President Fred Carter is very supportive of the program.

“He likes to use the word ‘transformative’ which is exactly the right word,” Tuttle said. “You don’t go on an exchange and come back the same person.  You’re not just more worldly, you’re more mature.”

The ISP staff are constantly concerned about student safety.  Students are given an orientation to inform them about the danger of pickpockets, differences in currency, and changes in voltage.

In fact, due to political unrest in Mexico, a country once available for study, it is now closed to student exchange.

Constant contact is kept with students who are abroad through email and through the International Studies webpage, where they can check in and post pictures during their travels.

FMU is also currently hosting eight international students from France, England and Germany, including French exchange student Oriane Martin, who plays volleyball.

Upon the arrival of international students to FMU, Tuttle took them on a “culturally enriching” trip on a carriage ride through the historic district of Charleston, where they ate lunch and shopped.

He said he will be taking them to the Second City Comedy Tour at the Performing Arts Center later this month.

“I love the people that I get to work with,” Tuttle said. “I’m working with some of our best students who are overjoyed to be going overseas.”

With so few countries available in the program, FMU has recently formed a collaboration with Costal Carolina University (CCU).

Students from CCU will soon be able to travel to the five countries offered by FMU and FMU students will be able to travel to Ecuador, Japan and Australia starting Fall 2012.  The ISP is also hoping to open study abroad in Spain.

Students usually take four classes in addition to International Studies 299, which is a three credit hour elective just for being abroad.

To study abroad, students must have at least 30 credit hours and a 2.75 GPA.  They also must turn in a short essay and letter of recommendation.

The deadline for applying for Fall and Summer II is Thursday, March 1.

Exchange openings are limited, so students are encouraged to submit as early as possible.