We strongly urge our majors to consider a study abroad experience. In the global era, gaining perspective outside of the United States is attractive to potential employers. More importantly, the study abroad experience helps a student learn about themselves and challenges their predisposed assumptions and attitudes about the world. We have placed students all over the world, including Russia, India, Japan, Switzerland, and Finland. Where will you go? For those not sure about committing to an entire semester abroad, we have recently developed a two-week, short-term study abroad opportunity to Belize, located in Central America, offered every summer.
Nicole Semenza spent the 2015 fall semester abroad at the University of Bern in Bern, Switzerland. Nicole enrolled in several political science courses, which were taught in English. Most courses were taught on the basis of class discussions led by students. The diversity of students resulted in rich and interesting discussions on a wide variety of subjects.
Nicole was fortunate to travel quite a bit throughout Switzerland and Europe. For example, she hiked in the beautiful Swiss Alps nearly every weekend. She took full advantage of accessible and relatively cheap public transportation to explore other places, including weekend trips to Paris, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. Her favorite excursion was a trip that she took by herself to Rome.
According to Nicole, studying abroad was the best and most memorable experience of her life. Nicole said, "I was able to experience different cultures, make many friends across the world, and just have an amazing time!" Nicole is considering the Peace Corps after she graduates from Mansfield with a double major in political science and history in May 2016.
During the 2014 spring semester, political science major,
James Nixdorf, studied at the University of Hyderabad, in Hyderabad, India. James enrolled in a variety of classes, including India
in World Affairs, as well as courses in Indian Philosophy and Indian Contemporary
History. The courses were taught in English, and they all transferred toward his MU degree.
While in India, James stayed at the Tagore International House, which was where the international students lived throughout their time studying. The best part about living here was meeting people from all around the world. There were students from the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen, and Gaza, as well as students from Africa, including Nigeria, Djibouti, and Tanzania.
Another one of James' favorite parts of being in Hyderabad was hitchhiking a mile into class every morning on the back of someone's motorcycle. This study abroad experience had a profound impact on James' possible career plans. Since graduating in December 2014, he took a one year position at Mansfield University in the Advancement Division and is exploring international career opportunities.
Thomas never thought he would actually study abroad, but while discussing his final two semesters of coursework with Dr. Rothermel, his adviser, the possibility was raised, and he seized it. A few months later, Thomas was packing his bags for Abo Akademi University in Finland. Although he immediately questioned his decision upon arriving, a few consultations with Dr. Rothermel along with some restful night sleeps encouraged him to stick it out. Ironically, Thomas would later extend his study abroad from one semester to the entire academic year!
Thomas relished the role of foreigner and came to appreciate the subtleties of Finnish culture. He noted some significant differences between the structures of higher education in Finland versus the US. For example, in some courses students can choose how they want to be evaluated for their final exam. He was also struck by their generous social welfare system, including stipends to attend university. While attending Abo Akademi University, he took courses in European politics, gender studies, religion, and philosophy. He was involved socially with his classmates, traveling to the coast on weekends, taking ferry trips from Finland to Stockholm, and going on road trips to Lapland to see Santa.
Thomas said, "The opportunity to meet people from all over the world, being immersed in the local Finnish culture and lifestyles, and experiencing new things will be something I will always remember." He added, "I would not have been able to do any of this without both Dr. Rothermel and Dr. Bosworth helping me out continuously along the way. The care and effort they put into their jobs is truly appreciated."
Thomas spent his final year (2014-2015) as a Mansfield University student in Turku, Finland where he has decided to stay and pursue graduate studies.
Our program strongly recommends that our majors gain some practical work
experience through internships. We have placed full-time interns in
both Washington DC and Harrisburg, working for government agencies and
interest groups. Part-time internships can be arranged locally during
the semester and over the summer. Up to 6 credits may be applied toward
the major;all credits count toward graduation requirements.
In Fall 2013, political science major, Alex Bock spent his semester interning with the Association of Pennsylvania State College & University Faculties (APSCUF). APSCUF represents over 6,000 faculty and coaches in Pennsylvania's 14 state-system universities.
The internship focused on state government relations and state-wide communications. Alex was provided the opportunity to meet with a variety of representatives from around the state, as well as numerous professionals working together with government. It was a full-time internship. Alex not only earned 15 college credits but was also paid $10/hour.
Alex said, "In Harrisburg, everyone knows each other, and my supervisor introduced me to many people. The opportunity was particularly helpful in gaining a better understanding of state government and the importance of networking." APSCUF offers paid internships every fall, spring, and summer.