A map located in the International Programs and Exchanges office in College Hall 104 displays the countries where students can study abroad. Photo by Erik Simkins.

A map located in the International Programs and Exchanges office in College Hall 104 displays the countries where students can study abroad. Photo by Erik Simkins.

By Alex Bacon/The AS Review

Studying in another country is something that many people think about doing when they’re in college.  Often people consider it but choose not to because they think it’s too expensive or because they get too busy with life. The office of International Programs and Exchanges (IPE) is here to help students overcome these and other obstacles.

Kaylee Knowles, a peer advisor for IPE, suggests students start looking for a program at least a year in advance.

According to Deborah Kithome, another peer advisor for IPE, there are four different approaches to studying abroad:  programs, exchanges, internships and faculty-led excursions.

Programs are open to any level of foreign language ability.  They offer on-site support to students and the time that students stay can be anywhere from three weeks to a year.

Exchanges are usually for people with a higher level of language (at least two full years of college level language classes, sometimes three).  Students on exchanges fully enroll in the foreign university.  They’re designed for students with a high level of independence.  Exchanges usually last a semester or a year.

Internships are another option for traveling or studying abroad.  There are many different kinds of internships available, depending on your interest.  The cost, aid, length of stay and support offered vary by internship.

The final option is faculty-led excursions.  These are courses taught by Western professors that take groups of students to other countries.  For example, there’s an art history class this summer that will be taught in Japan and a service-learning class in Kenya.  Past excursions have gone to places such as South Africa and the Dominican Republic.  Usually lasting six weeks, these classes count for credit at Western.

Cost varies greatly depending on which study abroad option you choose.

“For a program it is whatever the program fee is, paid directly to the program, and you pay Western only a $60 application fee and $200 concurrent enrollment fee for every quarter you are gone from Western,” Knowles said.

For an ISEP exchange, you pay only the cost of Western hosting an ISEP student.  This includes Western in-state tuition [even for out-of-state students], the cost of living in Birnam Wood and a Gold meal plan, Knowles said. “This amounts to about $5000 to $6000 for a semester.  Then there is a $345 placement fee paid to ISEP.  You then have tuition, housing and food paid for while you are abroad.”

For a direct exchange, Knowles said you pay only Western in-state tuition [even if you are from out of the state] to Western and then pay for housing, food, etcetera out-of-pocket.

Kithome said there are scholarships available, but the ones usually offered by Western are not being offered this year because of the slow economy.

The first step Kithome suggests is to decide where you want to go, when you want to go and what you want to study.  Once you’ve decided, she suggests going to an info session in the IPE office College Hall 104, on Mondays at 11 a.m. or Thursdays at 4 p.m. through fall quarter.  Session times may change next quarter.

“Apply early,” Kithome said.  There are different deadlines for each program and students that want to go through the IPE must complete two applications for study abroad, one to the program and one to IPE, Knowles said.

“The requirements to study abroad through Western Washington University’s International Programs and Exchanges office is that you are a full-time WWU student for at least one quarter, in good academic standing with a 2.5 GPA or above and have at least sophomore status by the beginning of the program,” Knowles said.

The IPE has two info sheets they consider valuable resources for beginning the process:  a frequently asked questions sheet and a “7 Easy Steps to Study Abroad” sheet.  They can be found in the IPE office. Information about all the programs and possibilities offered can be found on the Web site: www.wwu.edu/ipe.


College Hall 104
Fall quarter information sessions: Mondays at
11 a.m. and Thursdays at 4 p.m.