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OU students broaden horizons with study away program

Monday, February 24, 2014
OU students broaden horizons with study away program


By Kelli M. Titus

Oakland University is one of nearly 200 institutions in involved with the National Student Exchange. Students can study at places like Western Oregon University while working toward their OU degree.
Study away programs are beneficial experiences that can be achieved without leaving the country.

Just ask Molly Kosnak, an Oakland University student studying psychology and international relations at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Ore.

During the 2012 fall semester, Kosnak joined the National Student Exchange, a program offered at Oakland University to connect students with unique traveling opportunities. She was fascinated by what the program had to offer and walked out of an NSE meeting with the drive to become a part of it.

“The program seemed like an incredible chance to take courses not offered at Oakland, while experiencing a different part of the country,” Kosnak said.

Kosnak chose Western Oregon University for its geographical location, as well as the institution’s in-depth course topics not offered at OU. These classes provide her with a clearer vision of her goals, both professionally and personally. She plans to return to OU’s campus for the 2014 fall semester with a fresh perspective.

“My encounters through NSE have caused me to grow immensely as an individual,” she said.  
Oakland University is one of nearly 200 institutions in the United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that are involved with the National Student Exchange. The NSE provides a world-class experience without the out-of-state rates. Students can attend any NSE college and still pay OU tuition while receiving OU credit.

An NSE flier posted in the Oakland Center led OU student Justin Horecki on a journey to the sunny state of Hawaii. Horecki is working towards his bachelor of arts in liberal studies at the University of Hawaii in Hilo and will study there for the remainder of the winter semester. He traveled to Hawaii in January with fellow OU student and NSE member, Jessica Griffiths.

“Justin and I both love to travel and experience new things,” Griffiths said, “so we decided on a place that is warm and has a vibrant and interesting culture to boot.”

Since traveling to the University of Hawaii, Horecki and Griffiths have expanded their knowledge, met a great deal of new people and encountered unforgettable experiences.

“I have gained a lot from this program that I would not get from just studying at my home campus,” Horecki said. “I gained a new sense of culture and way of life here on the Big Island, having the chance to meet so many new people and learning about different ways of living.”

Study Abroad and International Education Director Brian Connery coordinates the NSE program at OU and says that students can benefit greatly from this program, but need to prepare themselves for a lot of planning, saving, patience and, above all, perseverance.

“How many other points in your life can you run away to Hawaii for five months and get away with it? And in the NSE program, you’re still moving forward, you’re not putting your life on hold to travel the world, you’re working toward your degree.”
— Jessica Griffiths

Connery attends an annual exchange placement meeting, where all the involved institutions gather to place their prospective students. He will be taking at least five student placement applications with him this year, hoping to find them a spot in their top college choice. This placement process is not an easy one, as many universities across the country allow only a certain number of applicants into their NSE program.

In exchange for one OU student, a traveling scholar from a different university is accepted to attend classes at Oakland University. This will be decided at NSE’s placement meeting, which occurs on March 6 in St. Louis, Mo. OU has yet to host a student on campus through NSE, but Connery is hopeful the university will receive some this fall.

Connery would like to see the university’s faculty engage with this program to help further grow and expand it.  

“You have faculty strategically directing their students to things that would be academically beneficial,” Connery said.

By collaborating with other institutions, specific programs can expand their resources and will encourage students to do the same.

“Being young and in college is the perfect time to travel,” Griffiths said. “How many other points in your life can you run away to Hawaii for five months and get away with it? And in the NSE program, you’re still moving forward, you’re not putting your life on hold to travel the world, you’re working toward your degree.”

“The NSE program has given me life experiences and memories that I will always remember and cherish,” she said.

Whether students want to enhance their studies, are travel junkies or simply want to escape the bitter winter months, it’s an enriching experience to study away with the National Student Exchange. For more information visit OU's office of International Education