Enrollment Tips, Program Insights

What Graduate Students Can Expect Studying Abroad with Concordia University-Portland

By Kara Wyman, MEd September 25, 2017

One of the top reasons Concordia’s online students choose to study virtually is because they’re holding full-time jobs; balancing a career, lifestyle, and graduate program is much easier when you can log in to class at any time of day.

But what about opportunities to study outside the country? As an online student, you can absolutely still choose to participate on a study abroad trip with Concordia. In fact, if time allows, you’re strongly encouraged to do so. Why?

We spoke with three educators who shared how they benefited from their experiences with Concordia University-Portland and EF (Education First) Tours. Here are five key takeaways you can expect.

You’ll walk away with a much deeper understanding of cultural differences.

Tammy Scholder, who is currently pursuing her doctorate in education administration, said she gained a great deal from traveling with Concordia University-Portland to New Zealand. “I now have a better perspective on our practices here in the U.S. since I was able to learn in an ‘up-close-and-personal’ way what schools in New Zealand are doing. It’s interesting to learn about other countries’ priorities and to see the types of reform they have gone through.”

Michael Arthur, who earned his EdD from Concordia, traveled to Finland to see Finnish schools firsthand, since they had been rated number one in the world on the international PISA scores. “Traveling to Finland with my doctoral cohort was truly the adventure of a lifetime,” he says. “I am grateful that Concordia University-Portland, along with the travel professionals at EF Tours, made my educational journey worthwhile.”

Amber Sparks has traveled to Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, all with Concordia University-Portland. She earned her Master of Education from Concordia and is currently pursuing her doctorate from there as well. “The first trip I went on was the first time I had left the country,” she says. Dr. Lori Sanchez, Director of Graduate Studies at Concordia University-Portland, leads each trip, and Amber adds, “Lori is one of my most favorite people on the planet. I wanted to go with her, and being in a group made me feel safe.”

You’ll be a part of a unique travel experience with like-minded educators.

Traveling with other educators “makes conversations quite intriguing,” says Tammy. In addition to traveling to New Zealand with Concordia University-Portland, she’s also traveled with them to Finland. “So far, the two trips I have gone on have been attended by the most friendly, responsible, and interesting people!”

You’ll enjoy the comfort of a pre-planned trip with great guides.

Concordia works with EF Tours to facilitate an organized, enriching travel experience that’s hassle-free. “EF Tours provides experienced and eager-to-please tour guides,” Tammy said. “That really adds to the enjoyment of each trip.” Amber also liked how each trip is structured: “Everything is planned and runs on time!”

You’ll finally experience what you’ve read about.

While educational articles and stories can be interesting, there’s nothing like seeing precisely how teachers are teaching and students are learning around the world. “In Finland we were able to see students learning English as a second language who were as young as third and fourth grade,” Tammy said. “In New Zealand, we were able to observe a child center of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers learning how to grow with independence and confidence. Kids were closely monitored and supervised by adults, but were able to engage and express themselves in their own way. The most interesting was watching 2- and 3-year-olds using hand saws and other tools just as American kids use plastic sand shovels. It was quite eye-opening.”

Michael also enjoyed the in-person learning experience. “I was intrigued by the facial expressions of each and every student. They were genuinely excited about the learning process. The students were completely engaged and fully immersed in the process. I am still learning about the Finnish educational system but I am a true believer.”

You’ll gain global knowledge that will benefit your students.

“As educators,” Tammy says, “we seem to all be in search for what is best for kids and how we can most effectively help kids reach their highest academic, social, and emotional developmental potential. So it’s important to learn about what other people are doing to gain ideas that are working well with kids around the world.”

Kara Wyman has a BA in literature and an MEd from the University of California-Santa Barbara. She spent a decade working with adolescents as an English teacher, the founder and director of a drama program, a curriculum designer, and a project manager for a teen-centered nonprofit organization.

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