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Breakfast in the Himalayas at Pema Thang - McLeod GANJ, India.
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WIU students in the bookstore at the Dalai Lama Temple Complex - McLeod Ganj, India.
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Summer Offers Study Abroad Opportunities for WIU Students

August 2, 2016

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MACOMB, IL – Students at Western Illinois University have the opportunity to study abroad in more than 60 countries, regardless of their majors or minors. The cost of studying abroad is comparable to the cost of studying on WIU's main campus, when considering the available financial aid and scholarships.

Students have a variety of study abroad programs they can participate in, including study programs during spring and winter break, summer break and some programs that are semester-long and yearlong.

The requirements for studying abroad differ between undergraduate students and graduate students. As an undergraduate, students must complete at least 12 semester hours, have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5 and be in good academic and judicial standing. As a graduate student, students must have been accepted to the WIU School of Graduate Studies, have approval from a graduate advisor and department chair and be in good academic and judicial standing.

There are three types of study abroad programs available at WIU: faculty led, exchange and affiliate.

During faculty-led programs, students travel with a WIU professor and a group of students. This program is usually short term, anywhere from 10 days to four weeks. Exchange is one of the most affordable programs offered. The student will go to one of WIU's partner institutions to take a full semester or year of courses. The affiliate program gives students the opportunity to go with other American and international students to a school abroad via one of WIU's study abroad providers or university partners.

"Studying abroad may be one of the most beneficial experiences available to WIU students," said Richard Carter, executive director of distance learning and international studies and outreach. "By studying abroad, students have the opportunity to study in a foreign nation and take in the allure and culture of a new land. Not only do they get to see exciting sites, experience a new culture and taste exotic foods, but WIU students also receive academic credits for their participation. I encourage all students to consider study abroad, as this may provide to be the most exciting part of their individual educational journey."

Anthropology Professor Heather McIlvaine-Newsad, of the WIU Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and Associate Professor of Religious Studies Sarah Haynes, recently returned to campus after traveling with a group of students who spent two weeks in India. McIlvaine-Newsad recommends studying abroad.

"The experience changes how you look at the world and you learn there is more than one way to do things. It is the best way to learn about different cultures," McIlvaine-Newsad noted.

Kiri Hamilton, a WIU graduate from Davenport (IA), was one of the students who enrolled in the study abroad program to India.

"I would say my favorite part is getting to see a different culture happening naturally," she said.

Lindsay Kuitse, a spring 2016 graduate from Colorado Springs (CO), was another student who traveled to India. At Western, Kuitse was a triple major in anthropology, religious studies and Spanish, and this was her second trip with McIlvaine-Newsad and Haynes.

"My experience studying abroad in India was unbelievable and was one of the best choices I have made in my life to date. My time in India allowed me to step outside of my own little box and into a world that is strikingly different from my own, but yet, also so similar. I think it's important that all students have the opportunity to study abroad because it completely changes your perception of the world and your place in it. Studying abroad has been one of the single most impactful experiences for me and I'm so thankful to have had that opportunity," she explained.

"One of the highlights of the course was a visit to the Gandhi Smriti, the site where Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. The site includes a museum that documents the days before and after his death, a memorial on the site where he was shot and the room in which he died," McIlvaine-Newsad said. "Students also visited the Taj Mahal, the Golden Temple and the Dalai Lama complex in the town of McLeod Ganj."

For some, studying abroad is an important component of a WIU education.

"Studying abroad helps to remind a person that the world is a big place, and it's always interesting and insightful to see how other people live," Hamilton noted. "Reading about it in a book can never compare to a hands-on experience. It's important to see people who are different from you and can provide resources and information to draw on in future circumstances that those who haven't left the country wouldn't have access to."

The learn more about studying abroad at WIU such as finances or the application process, visit

Posted By: Katie Hopping (
Office of University Communications & Marketing