By LAUREN MCDONALD firstname.lastname@example.org
Tiara Stokes, a senior at College of Coastal Georgia, aspires to study abroad so she can experience some culture outside of Brunswick.
"I just want to get the experience and to see the different surroundings," Stokes said. "I would just love to see different people and different cultures."
Stokes took one of the first steps toward making her dream a reality by attending a study abroad fair at the college last week.
The Office of International Education sponsored a European Council study abroad fair that focused on summer programs in England, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Scotland and Russia. The event attracted more than 65 students.
For the last several years, the college has worked to expand its study abroad opportunities for students with the hope of offering a more international and diverse education.
Within the last two years, the college has established global partnerships with the American College of Greece and with Sacred Heart College in Belize.
Carla Bluhm, an associate professor of psychology at the college who will be leading a program in Paris, said the European Council trips provide structured study abroad opportunities that allow students to feel like citizens in the country.
"The students go and they live at City University, and they become Parisian citizens for those five weeks," Bluhm said. "It's not like a travel course ... it has more structure. They live there, they're free to come and go."
Her students will be in the classroom twice a week and on fields trips twice a week. They're also offered excursions on the weekends.
"There's structure, but only for their coursework," she said. "They can really have a fantastic time."
Every study abroad opportunity is unique, and on Bluhm's trip, she will be teaching topics in psychology with the aid of the French surroundings.
For a human development class, her students will visit a birthing unit in a French hospital.
"So we can talk to women who are in labor and watch and be informed about those differences," she said.
She'll also be teaching about the psychology of nutrition.
"It will be an exploration of what they call 'the French paradox' — why they seem to eat and eat and eat and are all in fantastic shape," Bluhm said. "We're going to look at the cultural meaning of food, such as the country saying what can be a croissant or not."
Previous study abroad programs for CCGA students have included a Maymester trip to Costa Rica, a summer opportunity in Waterford, Ireland and a student exchange program that took a student to Athens, Greece.
"The motivation for faculty is you want your students to really grow on their own terms in that country," Bluhm said. "So you're supporting them academically, but you're also wanting them to participate in this remarkable transition that's inevitable with study abroad."
Photo by Bobby Haven of The News
Connie Toler, program coordinator for international initiatives at College of Coastal Georgia, talks with students during a recent studies abroad fair.