“Welcome to Rice. Now go away!”

While that might normally sound like a rude greeting, that’s how Rice’s International Programs office eagerly greets new students in the hope of turning all owls into internationally experienced scholars.  What does that mean?  As International Programs will gladly tell you, “international experience” doesn’t just have to be your parents’ old study abroad anymore.  True, a lot of Rice students will go abroad like Allison and take classes in another country.  But universities have realized there’s a lot more other countries have to offer aside from their classrooms, and so now you can find internships, fellowships, research, and service opportunities in other countries.  Rice fully embraces this expanded view of study abroad, and has lots of resources you can consult to find the the experience that best suits you.  This post is about that expanded view.

What I love about this set-up is that it also makes it easy for almost any major to go abroad.  Four years ago (that went by fast…), when I was looking at schools, I had two basic requirements:  1) it had to be good at physics, but I could still be able to change my major (and man, how many times that almost happened at Rice) and 2) I had to be able to study abroad while doing something related to physics.  I quickly tweaked goal 2 when I came to Rice and learned about the other things I could do.  The sophomore after sophomore year, I got to go to Japan for 10 weeks to learn Japanese and do nanotechnology research through a Rice-sponsored program called NanoJapan, and it was an amazing experience. One of my friends liked being abroad so much, she decided to apply to go abroad the semester after she came back.

Or you can be like one of my more policy-minded friends.  While I was in Japan, he participated in a Baker Institute trip to American University Cairo where he got to meet Egyptian students through the Public Diplomacy and Global Policymaking program.  He enjoyed that trip and learning about public diplomacy, and this year he helped organize a student trip to Qatar to meet with Qatari college students and attend a science policy conference.

When people ask me if I’ve studied abroad, I always kind of struggle to answer with something along the lines of “Technically…”  While my friend and I may not have had the stereotypical international experience, I found my experience more valuable than just taking classes in another country.  And it definitely makes for a great spot on a resume.

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