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Students prioritize study abroad experience

Tori Roeck | Friday, November 30, 2012

While most students consider the Notre Dame campus their home away from home, more than half the undergraduate student body during fall 2010, spring 2011 and summer 2011 explored another home through study abroad.

The Institute for International Education ranked Notre Dame ninth in percentage of students who study abroad with 59.7 percent of students participating during the periods of time analyzed, according to a University press release.

Robert Norton, associate vice president for internationalization and a concurrent German and philosophy professor, said he is proud of Notre Dame’s 40 international programs in 20 countries.

“One of the reasons why we think it’s so important to have a lot of students go abroad … is that it’s very important in terms of students getting to know not only other cultures but their own, as well,” Norton said. “You get to see the American language and culture through the eyes of other people, and I think that’s a very important step in learning to have sympathy and tolerance for people of other cultures when you begin to see yourself through the eyes of others.”

Norton said Notre Dame has been ranked among the top 10 schools with the highest percentage of students who study abroad for the past 14 years.

“Notre Dame is willing to invest in study abroad in ways that other schools aren’t,” he said. “For example Notre Dame has for years paid for the airfare of students who study abroad, which is something no other peer institution has done.”
Notre Dame’s interest in study abroad reflects the

University’s Catholic identity, Norton said.

“The Catholic Church is the universal Church, and I think that people can understand what that means in real terms only when they go out into the world and begin to have the experiences that study abroad uniquely offers,” he said.

Norton said he is happy with the percentage of students who study abroad, but he encourages as many students as possible to take advantage of the University’s resources.

One especially favorable program is Notre Dame International’s Global Gateways, buildings the University has purchased in cities such as Dublin and Rome to extend the classroom abroad, Norton said.

“What we’re doing is we’re turning these Global Gateways not just into centers for study abroad but also places where Notre Dame as an institution resonates into the larger culture context of the place where they’re situated,” he said.

Senior Amanda Williams studied in London in spring 2012 through the Notre Dame London Program, and she said the experience opened up new cultural doors for her.

“You definitely dove right into everything because you were traveling extremely independently,” Williams said. “Just being in London in the first place is a big cultural immersion, but traveling around Europe was also a cultural immersion, even just as far as getting off the airplane and having to find a bus.”

Williams said she enjoyed living in a “global center” and especially appreciated the good accommodations and knowledgeable professors the University provided for her.

Most of all, Williams said she was grateful to
became a true London resident.

“There’s a point when you’re in London when you stop looking like a tourist, and I think when everyone reaches that point, you’re definitely culturally immersed and getting something out of that,” she said. “That was probably the best part – being a Londoner.”

Contact Tori Roeck at
vroeck@nd.edu