Study Abroad With Wilkes University

Wilkes University, as a liberal arts institute, values scholars that are well-rounded critical thinkers and skilled communicators. The Study Abroad Office works to organize a program that provides all students with opportunities to have experiences abroad.

Dr. Jeff Stratford is the Director of Study Abroad at Wilkes University. The ultimate goal of the study abroad office is to develop programs that make studying abroad more accessible and allowing students to create their own discipline specific goals for their trips while increasing the international footprint at Wilkes University.
Studying abroad “forces you to reflect on who you are,” said Dr. Stratford. It allows students to make direct comparisons between your culture and the one you find yourself a part of. Jacee Yorks and Raeva Mulloth, two Wilkes University students that had previously studied abroad gave similar testimonies. They both expressed learning to rely more on themselves especially when traveling to local areas in the countries they traveled to. The programs offered at Wilkes University, especially those including internships, give students experience in the real world that most organizations search for on resumes. “The world is ever becoming more interconnected and if you’re going to succeed in that landscape you’re gonna have to understand those connections,” said Stratford.

The two main ways to go abroad are through curated exchange programs or through providers. Providers are companies that coordinate with universities and other organizations to help students find places to study or work abroad. Dr. Stratford explained exchange programs as direct linkages between universities. Wilkes University creates the program with a university in another country to allow students pay the standard tuition to study in that particular country.

The only amenities excluded from the tuition cost is airfare and rent, but students can fundraise or obtain scholarships to cover those costs. Wilkes University offers two internal scholarships, the Bierly Fellowship and the Stephens Scholarship. The Bierly Fellowship is for experiential learning for students who are studying abroad for an internship or research. The Stephens Scholarship is for traditional study abroad programs.


Most students see the price tag attached to studying abroad and decide that it is too expensive because they are not aware about these scholarships. Dr. Stratford mentioned that because of this, only two or three students study abroad each semester. Furthermore, he approximated that only 20 percent of Wilkes students go abroad for educational purposes. Most of those students go over spring break, or for shorter academic faculty-led trips.  


Raeva Mulloth, a pre-med neuroscience major, decided to do research over the summer instead of missing a semester at Wilkes. She worked for six weeks in a neuroscience research lab that is affiliated with the University of London. She knew for some time that she wanted to study abroad but was worried that her credits would not be able to transfer. However, after speaking with Dr. Stratford, she worked with Arcadia University, because of their extensive study abroad program, to find her desired internship.


Mulloth spoke fondly of her time in London, she was able to learn about topics interesting to her that she would not have been able to do here. She was also able to work in a lab that had different equipment and protocols than those she previously worked in at Wilkes.


“I thought doing research would be something different, and I can still go abroad and have that educational experience but also the fun part of being abroad.” said Mulloth.


One of the hardest parts of studying abroad, according to Mulloth was grocery shopping and making her own food. She stressed the importance planning out your money before traveling and taking advantage of scholarships, she claims “if you really want it, there are ways to make it happen.” Mulloth proves that study abroad can be completed by more than just liberal arts and business majors.  


Jacee Yorks, a business major, worked with CAPA, a study abroad provider, to go to Sydney, Australia. When traveling through an organization like CAPA, they set pre-planned excursions for you.“We could go on them and they were all inclusive” said Yorks. She was able to attend a river cruise, “glamp” overnight at the zoo and hiked the Blue Mountains. As she “glamped” she was able to see all the nocturnal animals as well as watch rescued elephants be fed.


Yorks added that her public transport was also included through CAPA, she was simply given a card to use instead of buying individual tickets. This made it much easier for her to travel around the city at her leisure. She took one class that met twice a week and worked as an intern for the remainder of the week. She interned at New Sport South Wales and they specialized in planning events that allowed children with disabilities to play sports.


Yorks addressed the culture difference that she found most shocking: her work environment was extremely laid back. She even stated the catchphrase where she worked was “no worries.” Whenever you finished work you could leave, and if you did not finish your work they would tell you to continue it some other day and to go home.


Her advice for those who want to study abroad is “plan, plan, plan.” She urged that students think about what they want to do and places they would be interested in going ahead of time. She also stressed that students start applying to scholarships early.


“Honestly I think every student should study abroad…get out of your comfort zone, be brave,” said Yorks.


On September 27th in the Henry Student Center there will be four study abroad providers visiting. These providers will be able to provide many more details about their specific organizations and financial aid opportunities. Anyone interested in study abroad is encouraged to attend.


Wilkes has study abroad opportunities in a plethora of locations, including but not limited to: Cali Colombia, Costa Rica, England, Ireland, Wales, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Italy, London, England, Malaysia, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain, Tanzania and Uganda. Working with providers adds even more countries to our already extensive list.