The School of Education is the first program at the University of Indianapolis with an embedded study abroad program, according to the Director of Elementary Education Dr. Libby Turner. The program will be sending Elementary Education students to Maynooth University in Ireland at the start of the spring semester and will allow students to visit Ireland and experience their education system while also retaining their financial aid and taking courses that apply to their major, Turner said.
UIndy was planning to send their students in August, but due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, they had to push it back to January, according to uindy.edu. Ireland is at a level four travel health notice, meaning there are very high levels of COVID-19 cases, and UIndy does not allow travel to anywhere that is at that high of a level, according to Turner.
Junior elementary education major and embedded study abroad program (ESAP) scholar Elise Tally said students had planned on going to Ireland in the fall and did not find out until two weeks before classes were supposed to start that they would have to stay at UIndy for the fall semester.
Students had been preparing for the trip over the summer, but that preparation was put on hold when they found out that the ESAP scholars would be staying at UIndy, according to the Director of Global Education Ghina Sadek. However, since students were supposed to go in the fall, most of their arrangements were already set up.
“They’re pretty set at this point in terms of arrangements,” Sadek said. “We’ve switched flights, they are in contact with the university there, their housing arrangements are set, so that kind of preparation is all under control.”
Tally said this will be her first time studying abroad and is excited to see what classrooms are like in Ireland and how to incorporate their learning styles into her own classroom.
“We get to go into some Irish classrooms, and I’m excited to meet all those little kids that haven’t grown up in the American system and see the differences and be able to learn from that and take it into the classrooms of ours when we graduate,” Tally said.
Turner said to be a part of this program, students have to apply and meet the requirements, which include having a GPA of 2.7 and pass an educator’s dispositions assessment. Students also have to have a few references and write a personal statement, according to Turner.
One of the unique things about this program is that students are able to pay the same amount of money to go as they would be paying to be at UIndy, according to Sadek. She said the program also allows students to take courses in Ireland that apply to their major so that they can have the opportunity to study abroad without worrying about finding courses themselves that will apply to their major.
“Students can study elementary education anywhere, but it’s only here that they can come study elementary education and they have a semester already dedicated to being abroad and in Ireland,” Sadek said. “They don’t have to worry about getting their transcripts requested and back to us and getting the courses equivalent to UIndy ones or what their financial aid looks like. Everything is a package deal.”
Turner said the ESAP scholars will also have a student support coordinator that will help them get to Maynooth from the airport, give them an orientation and provide additional assistance throughout the first few weeks of the students being in Ireland. Having student support coordinators like this is unique to the embedded study abroad program, according to Turner.
This program has been in progress for several years to make it financially possible for the students and ensure that they would still get all their courses in, according to Sadek. They had to make sure the classes students would be taking at Maynooth would meet the requirements for the elementary education major here at UIndy.
“Programs like this take a long time to set up, but we are working really hard on coming up with similar programs for other majors,” Sadek said. “I think the lofty idea is that every major at UIndy will have some kind of embedded study abroad program.”