Studying abroad is a critical component of the Wisconsin Experience, said Daniel Gold, the director of International Academic Programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“The focus areas of ‘empathy and humility’ and ‘relentless curiosity’ are particularly well-suited to be developed through experiences abroad,” Gold said. “Engaging in a new social and cultural environment, being exposed to new ideas and perspectives, and challenging one's worldview and sense of self is an unparalleled learning opportunity.”
Gold received his master’s degree in international studies and China studies and has over 20 years of experience in international education. He currently directs the International Academic Programs in which 1,500 students participate annually.
He explained that the Wisconsin Experience is based primarily on opportunities offered by the university.
“To me, [the Wisconsin Experience] is the great wealth of opportunities that UW-Madison provides to its students, in terms of helping to develop personal and intellectual growth and the focus that is placed on directing that growth in areas that improve people’s lives through the Wisconsin idea,” Gold said.
The International Academic Programs work to create high-quality experiences for students studying abroad. During the 2020-21 academic year, UW-Madison was ranked fourth among all universities across the nation for total students studying abroad.
Gold explained how studying abroad, in a broad sense, is an off-campus program that promotes academic, personal and professional growth, and involves progress toward an academic degree. He also emphasized the many opportunities that are offered through the university for students to become involved.
“UW-Madison offers over 250 opportunities for students both domestically and around the world from as short as a week to as long as one year, including opportunities to intern, complete research, fieldwork, or service learning for credit,” Gold stated.
According to Gold, it is never too early to study abroad.
“Just as college is a tremendous opportunity for growth, study abroad opens up opportunities and challenges beyond what students can find within the boundaries of Madison,” continued Gold. “Want to immerse yourself in a non-English language speaking environment? Want to explore new places and cultures? Studying abroad can open up these opportunities, which complement and support what you are learning on-campus.”
The International Academic Programs offer a variety of programs that are fit for any student. They are also committed to ensuring that every student deserves access to these programs. Gold explained how students can get involved in these programs.
For incoming freshmen interested in studying abroad, Gold said there are various resources available to help students get involved. He recommended students speak with an advisor to help find the program that best suits their needs.
“For some students, the idea of going away for a semester, or even a few weeks, may seem daunting. Our study abroad advisors are available to talk both virtually and in-person to help students navigate the study abroad planning process,” Gold said. “We are committed to supporting all students and showing them how study abroad can be a transformative experience for everyone.”
On October 11, 2022, there will be a study abroad fair in the Gordon Commons Dining and Event Center. This event will allow students to explore different programs that are offered through the International Academics Programs and provide students more information regarding funding and scholarships, as well as opportunities to speak with program leaders and returned students.
Ellie Bourdo is the features editor for The Daily Cardinal. Ellie previously served as associate news editor, where she specialized in breaking news and University of Wisconsin-System news reporting. She also works at WisPolitics. Follow Ellie on Twitter at @elliebourdo.