Study Abroad for Majors and Minors
Writers constantly search for something new to write about, and we’re often given the advice of that old cliché: write what you know. Through study abroad, students can observe the cultures and landscapes of unfamiliar places, experiences that will never fail to give dynamic new material and endless inspiration for writing. Ariana Hendrix, GVSU Graduate 2010, Writing Major and study abroad participant
Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own introspective way into becoming a part of it. — Eudora Welty
While “write what you know” is never sufficient to a writer’s work, it’s also strong encouragement to expand the boundaries of what you do know. International experience, particularly study abroad, gives a writer new knowledge, new material, and new perspective. Any writing student, pursuing any area of creative or professional writing, can benefit from study abroad. Immersion in other places, other languages, other societies, will inevitably show you something different about your own. It will show you something about yourself. It will help create a breadth of experience and perspective that writers need, that employers and graduate programs appreciate, and that will connect you to a larger community. The Writing Department strongly encourages study abroad for its majors and minors.
Study abroad can help you to
- Gain confidence in yourself personally and professionally.
- Understand the field of writing from an international perspective
- Expand your cross-cultural communication and problem-solving skills
- Prepare to work in an increasingly diverse and international workplace
- Broaden your academic horizons
- Globalize your world view through direct contact with other cultures
- Experience a foreign culture from the inside.
- Extend your learning beyond the classroom
- Meet other students from all over the world and take the opportunity to build relationships that may last a lifetime.
Do I need to speak a foreign language?
No! Most study abroad programs offer instruction in English, even in non-English speaking countries.
Can I afford to study abroad?
Yes! Early planning for study abroad helps you make cost-effective program decisions, and it also helps you prepare your finances through savings, scholarships, and financial aid. Your financial aid applies to study abroad and, in some cases, your loan eligibility will increase to cover additional expenses. Furthermore, the Padnos International Center offers grants and scholarships specifically for qualified study abroad participants. Visit the Padnos Center to learn more about your options.
Will I take longer to graduate?
With good advance planning, you can take courses that satisfy requirements in your writing major or minor or the general education program. Study abroad doesn’t have to delay completing your degree, but it will enrich your experience.
What are my next steps?
Set goals and plan for results
Writing students can study abroad at any time during their four years.
- Plan ahead. Begin at least six months in advance of your study abroad. Give yourself time to research and talk to advisors and students who have studied abroad. It is never too early to start planning so you don’t miss application deadlines.
- Set some goals. There is not one program best suited for writing students. There are many good study abroad programs, and the best one for you depends on your goals.
- Prioritize your goals. Consider your long-term academic and professional goals, as well as your on-campus degree requirements.
- Consider long-term programs. You can study abroad for a summer session, a semester, or even an academic year.
- Prepare academically. You may need to take language or other prerequisite courses for your chosen program.
With proper planning study abroad can help you prepare for your professional life in today’s global context.
Attend a First Step Meeting
Learn about study abroad resources and advising by attending a Study Abroad First Step Meeting at the Padnos International Center. See www.gvsu.edu/studyabroad or call 616-331-3898 for meeting times.
Use the Study Abroad catalog, resource center, website, and advisors to find a program that fits your goals.
Talk to your advisor
Use a credit transfer form to get approval from the writing department for major-specific courses. Keep in mind, students are also able to fulfill general education requirements abroad, including a custom theme. For information on completing your theme abroad visit: www.gvsu.edu/studyabroad. Click ‘Getting Started, and scroll down to the ‘Study Abroad Theme’ link.
Once you have selected a program
Writing students planning on studying abroad will need to communicate closely with their academic advisor throughout their planning process. When you decide on the program that will work best for you, you should begin an online study abroad application at www.gvsu.edu/studyabroad.
What classes can I take while studying abroad?
General Education Requirements
Students may take selected general education requirements through study abroad. Many students choose to fulfill foundation requirements, including courses within the World Perspectives category.
Custom Theme Abroad
Another popular option is to fulfill your theme requirement while studying abroad. For information on how to propose a unique study abroad theme, visit the Padnos International Center website at http://www.gvsu.edu/studyabroad/.
Writing students should be aware that the range of Writing courses available at GVSU is unusually large, and that very few international universities have similar departments. However, Writing faculty strongly support study abroad, whether students are pursuing Writing coursework or other subjects during their time abroad.
The easiest way to fulfill WRT major requirements via study abroad is by applying credits earned abroad to either the “Interdisciplinary Electives” module or the “Writing Electives” module. In the new (beginning Fall ’12) WRT curriculum, the major requires the completion of at least one of these six-credit modules. The writing department agrees to automatically apply any six academic credits earned abroad to fulfill one of these modules. Writing classes can be applied towards Writing Electives, and all other classes can be applied towards “Interdisciplinary Electives.” The department values study abroad as an innately interdisciplinary experience.
Additional courses abroad can be applied towards the major or minor on a case by case basis.
Other Ways Study Abroad Benefits You
Develop or improve language skills
- Writing majors pursuing a B.A. must have third-semester proficiency in a foreign language. Consider choosing a study abroad program that will help you gain language ability and/or earn courses toward your major.
- For those majors trying to decide on a language, this is an opportunity to experience the language in its cultural context.
Complete Part of Your Distinction in Writing Portfolio
- Studying Abroad for at least six weeks and keeping a travel log can help you work towards completing the Writing Across Cultures component of the “Distinction in Writing” portfolio. Read more about the Distinction in Writing Program and then talk to your WRT faculty advisor.
Work on your writing major or minor
The easiest way to fulfill WRT major requirements via study abroad is by applying credits earned abroad to either the “Interdisciplinary Electives” module or the “Writing Electives”
Suggested program options for Writing students
The following list of program options are GVSU programs that specifically offer Writing courses. YOU ARE NOT LIMITED TO THE PROGRAM OPTIONS LISTED BELOW. The Writing Department encourages you to consider any study abroad program that allows you meet your individual academic goal (Major, GenEds, Custom Theme Abroad, language cognate requirement). The majority of WRT students who have successfully studied abroad have not taken part in programs or universities that offer or emphasize Writing courses. For example, WRT majors have previously attended a wide range of institutions including Kingston University; Edge Hill University; University of Reading; University of Edinburgh; Richmond, The American International University in London; Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design, and Technology; AHA-Dublin; University of Duesto; University of Salamanca; Menendez Palayo International University; Hellenic International Studies in the Arts (HISA); La Sorbonne; Sophia University; Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies; Japan Center for Michigan Universities; Pondicherry University; as well as the GVSU faculty-led programs Jordan: ARA; France: Language and Culture; and China Summer School.
Any of these programs, and many others, whether or not they offer Writing courses, can be made to complement a WRT major. Students are encouraged to talk to their academic advisor and to Padnos study abroad advisors for guidance about where they might want to study.
England: Edge Hill University
(semester or year, Non-GVSU Program)
Edge Hill University is located in England’s northwest, close to Liverpool and Manchester. It has an undergraduate enrollment of 8,000 students. The English department contains a creative writing track that publishes a variety of academic and literary journals, and offers many creative writing courses. GVSU Writing faculty members have visited the university. Visit http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/english/courses/ for more information.
England: Kingston University
(semester or year, GVSU Partnership)
With an enrollment of over 18,000 students, Kingston University has many years of experience receiving overseas students on study abroad programs. You will take the same classes as Kingston students, offering you an opportunity to integrate into student life. Founded in 1899, Kingston University is located just 20 minutes from the center of London, one of the world’s most diverse, vibrant, and cosmopolitan cities. GVSU Writing faculty members have visited the university.
Italy: John Cabot University, Rome
(summer, semester or year, Non-GVSU Program)
John Cabot University was founded in 1972 as a college of liberal arts and sciences. All courses are taught in English except Italian language and literature. The main campus in Rome is near the Vatican. Students are surrounded by thousands of years of history and art.
John Cabot University houses the Institute for Creative Writing and Literary Translation.
Since its founding in 2009, the Institute for Creative Writing and Literary Translation has quickly become a thriving community of and for writers in Rome. The Institute’s reading series has featured such luminaries as Mark Strand, Simon Mawer, Marianne Boruch, Peter Campion, Eliza Griswold, Moira Egan, Richard Kenney, Brad Leithauser, Robert Polito, Mary Jo Salter, Edmund White, Ingrid de Kok, Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi, and Dacia Maraini. With workshops in the major genres (fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction) and literary translation offered in the fall, spring, and summer terms, the Institute is the place for creative writing students to spend serious time on their writing as they get to know the Eternal City. For more information on this program, visit http://www.johncabot.edu/Academics/Institute_Creative_Writing/Institute_Creative_Writing.aspx
Italy: Florence University of the Arts and Apicius International School of Hospitality, Florence
(summer, semester or year, Non-GVSU Program: ISA)
The Florence University of the Arts (FUA) and the Apicius International School of Hospitality (AISH) are located in the historic Palazzo Doni and Palazzo Guicciardini-Strozzi, near the Piazza Santa Croce. Upon entering the two palaces that house the university, students find themselves in a modern interior in which carefully preserved vestiges of the past manifest themselves in a harmonious environment dedicated to the advancement of artistic disciplines. Upon program completion, students will receive a transcript from the Florence University of the Arts.
Students participating in the ISA Florence Semester program have the option to take courses in English. Students are required to participate in at least one Italian language course at the beginning, intermediate, or advanced level. Students participating in the summer program only are not required to take an Italian language course. Program participants will be in class with other U.S. and international students. Courses available include: Advertising, Art History, Contemporary Italian Studies, Creative Writing, Digital Media, Fashion Design, Food & Culture, Italian Language, Journalism, and Literature.
Specific courses of interest for writing majors include: Professional Food Writing, Travel Writing, Public Relations Writing, and Creative Writing. Courses vary depending on the semester or term that you plan to participate. For more information on this program visit: http://www.studiesabroad.com/programs/country/italy/city/florence/
Greece: Hellenic International Studies in the Arts
(fall or spring semesters, Non GVSU Program HISA)
Hellenic International Studies in the Arts (HISA) brings together in the historical and classical landscape of Paros, Greece, an interaction between students who desire more than a traditional lecture format and talented teachers and artists who wish to share their experience and knowledge. The creative writing program at HISA is designed to aid writers in developing the personal voice and style of creative work that can help them achieve their goals. Specifically, the course work is arranged around each individual writer’s current project, whether it be poetry or prose, and in any genre they are working in. The goal is the completion of a manuscript of poetry or short prose, and/or a significant segment of a longer prose work. The teachers are all currently writing and publishing and actively involved with elements of style, editing, voice, narration techniques, etc. Students are encouraged to work closely with the teachers, as mentors, in one on one sessions, in addition to class. The teachers can aid students in forming writing projects fiction, non-fiction, travel, poetry in all forms and work along with them to solve programs and develop a strong sense of craft. Surveys of writers and their work supplement the development of writing projects and can add knowledge and inspiration. A further and important element, is the immersion aspect of the HISA program, whereby writers can reach into and enjoy the substantial history and culture they are living and learning in, enriching the content and energy of their work.
Course Information: HISA offers courses in Creative Writing, Literature, Art and Cycladic Culture, Philosophy, Film, Digital Imaging, History and Women’s Studies. Courses vary by semester.
For more information visit: www.hellenicinternational.org
Latin America & the Caribbean
Argentina: Universidad de Buenos Aires (and others)
(fall and winter, Non-GVSU Program CIEE)
Founded in 1536, Argentina’s capital of Buenos Aires is often referred to as the Paris of Latin America. Within this immense, yet surprisingly navigable Latin American metropolis, elegant 19th-century buildings and café life offer glimpses of Europe and the Middle East. A vibrant port city, Buenos Aires is also the world’s leading Spanish-language publishing center. With a population of 13 million, Buenos Aires offers its visitors the chance to experience the perpetual cultural intrigue that can only be found in a city of this size and prestige.
CIEE partners with a number of academic institutions in Buenos Aires to offer courses in Literature, Writing, Journalism, and Communications. For more information visit www.ciee.org or call 1.800.40.STUDY for specific course descriptions.
Asia and Oceania
Australia: University of the Sunshine Coast
(semester or year, GVSU Partnership)
Founded in 1994, University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), located in Sippy Downs just one hour away from Queensland’s capital of Brisbane, is considered an outstanding performer of higher education in Australia. USC is one of the fastest growing campuses in Australia with a current enrollment of 4,000 students from over 39 different countries. The university offers an undergraduate major in creative writing, including course offerings like “Creative writing for children and young adults,” “Creative writing for the illustrated book,” or “Editing for the communications professional.” GVSU Writing faculty members have visited the university. Visit http://www.usc.edu.au for more information.
Australia: Macquarie University
(semester or year, GVSU Partnership)
With over 32,000 students, Macquarie University is considered one of Australia’s leading universities. Sydney, Australia, is one of the world’s largest and most beautiful cosmopolitan cities. You will enjoy the best of both worlds with many activities offered in Sydney’s booming city life, as well as the relaxing nearby beaches and Sydney harbor. Macquarie University gets its reputation as the “Innovative University” because of its flexible learning programs and support services. You can study a wide range of subjects, and the university offers part-time internship opportunities in a variety of areas. The university’s English department offers graduate degrees in creative writing, as well as undergraduate writing classes. Visit http://www.mq.edu.au for more information.
Summer Writing Programs
These intensive two or four week summer programs are creative writing-focused and include workshops. They are expensive, but some fellowships and scholarships are available. See the individual programs for more information.
Summer Literary Seminars
(non-GVSU Program via Concordia University)
Participants in the writing seminars will include individuals of all ages and all levels of accomplishment: gifted beginners and writers who have already begun publishing; undergraduate and graduate students of creative writing; and people turning (or returning) to writing relatively late in life. All are treated with equal respect by the SLS faculty and writers-in-residence. The seminars last for two weeks during the summer and can be counted for credited via Concordia University in Canada. If you are interested in counting the seminar for credit hours, the program’s coordinator is Mike Spry, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The emphasis of SLS Kenya, an entirely one-of-a-kind annual event, is on cultural immersion as an indelible part of literary and creative process; we offer the unique opportunity to engage in the lively and ever-growing local writing and arts community in Nairobi the capital of one of the world's most fascinating countries, a microcosm of Africa and on the sub-equatorial island of Lamu, in the eponymous medieval town, the ancient heart of the boundlessly rich Swahili culture. A 14th-century Arab stone town and Kenya's oldest living settlement, Lamu is a place of great serenity and equally great excitement: a locale that fosters a heightened state of inspiration.
For more information visit: http://www.sumlitsem.org/kenya/
Tbilisi, the country’s capital and one of Europe’s best-kept secrets, is a cobblestoned city situated at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Georgia boasts unspoiled natural beauty, from the beaches of the Black Sea to the heights of the Caucasus Mountains. It is the ancient land of myths and legends, Jason and the Golden Fleece, some of the world’s earliest cultivated vineyards and winemaking, great art and literature, remarkable hospitality and optimism.
For more information visit: http://sumlitsem.org/sls-georgia-2017/
Prague Summer Program
(non-GVSU Program via Western Michigan University)
The culmination of a decade of cooperation with Prague's Charles University, the Prague Summer Program offers writers, photographers and students of culture from a variety of backgrounds the opportunity to be mentored by some of the biggest names in contemporary English-language literature and world photography, as well as by luminaries of Central European culture. Past faculty and guests have included such literary talents as Ann Beattie, Charles Baxter, Mark Doty, Carolyn Forche, William Gass, Donald Hall, Edward Hirsch, Miroslav Holub, Mary Karr, Tracy Kidder, Carolyn Kizer, Ivan Klima, Sydney Lea, Philip Levine, Valery Martin, William Matthews, Christopher Merrill, Grace Paley, Jayne Anne Phillips, Francine Prose, Stanley Plumly, Gerald Stern, Amy Tan, Jean Valentine, Michael Waters and many others.(In recent years, undergraduate and graduate students from Arizona State University, the University of Iowa, Berkeley, University of Virginia, Harvard, Yale, NYU, Columbia, Wesleyan, Middlebury, and the University of Michigan, to name but a few stellar American institutions, have earned academic credit through the PSP from Western Michigan University.
For the month of July participants will be members of a unique and vital community of artists and students of art and culture. Unmarked by the wars and brutal occupations it has suffered, Prague is considered by many the most beautiful European city. The program lasts for four weeks every July, and can be taken for 3-7 credit hours. Two week programs are available, but earn no credit. Some fellowships and scholarships are available. See http://www.praguesummer.com/index.php for more information.
London Summer Internship
With over seven million people from all over the world, London is the largest city in Western Europe and is the capital of the United Kingdom. This cosmopolitan, bustling metropolis boasts an amazing array of cutting-edge businesses, houses, NGOs, and other organizations offering internships. Placements are available for undergraduates in almost any major who would like to gain valuable work experience. You will participate in the program working full-time, six hours, four days a week, for eight weeks and attending Professional Development Seminars once a week. Work placements are in professional offices in an industry related to your academic major and career goals. Because the program is designed to be academic in nature, the internships are unpaid.
The program last 9 weeks in the Summer (May 16-July 16, 2011)
Course Information: Students arrange to pursue the coursework related to their internship under the supervision of a Grand Valley faculty member in their chosen field. Credits are variable depending on the coursework undertaken and the policies of the department. Students are graded on a credit/no credit basis. A course designation is determined according to the disciplinary focus of the internship (e.g., WRT 490 Writing Internship, etc.) For more visit www.gvsu.edu/studyabroad and choose the “study abroad program” option, then “internships.”
Please note: This is just a partial list of places and programs to consider. Talk with your advisor and visit the Padnos International Center to more fully explore the options available to you.