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May 26th, 2022

Education Spanning Far and Wide

This story is featured in the Spring 2022 edition of the HPU Magazine.

HPU’s Office of Global Education gives students the international perspective they need to find their place and passion.

Students have persevered through unexpected challenges during the pandemic, but with the help of HPU’s Office of Global Education, they have continued to pursue their study abroad goals.

Those goals include seeing the world, gaining a global mindset and finding cultural enrichment.

“I have witnessed some unbelievable resiliency in our students,” says Jeffrey Palis, assistant vice president for Global Education. “Our students have amazing goals, and they are going to accomplish them no matter the obstacles.”

Studying abroad during college is often a quintessential opportunity for students to develop life skills like communication, emotional intelligence and adaptability.

Simran Kaur knows that. She’s a senior majoring in accounting, and she studied abroad at Korea University in Seoul, South Korea, for a semester.


‘Seoul’ Searching

“I’ve grown to be a lot more independent, which is something I really wanted to achieve from this experience,” says Kaur. “When figuring out how to navigate a world all in a foreign language, every day was a new adventure and a fun challenge.”

Kaur is a Greensboro, North Carolina native who plans to work at a nearby accounting firm following graduation. Her time abroad gave her the international experience she wanted before joining the workforce.

“This opportunity gave me the chance to experience a new culture,” says Kaur. “I got to hear fresh perspectives, make friends from different countries and try loads of things I would not have had the chance to do otherwise.”

Palis likes to say that the passport is the new resume, meaning no matter what field a student goes into, the ability to show experience working across cultures is critical.

“We talk about this in terms of professional credentials and job competitiveness, but it’s more than that,” says Palis. “It’s the ability to navigate complex communication challenges, to adapt to changes and differences, and to see the benefit of diverse perspectives and worldviews. These abilities are requirements for today’s university graduates.”

Alexa Humphries, a senior international business major with minors in Chinese and political science who’s also on a pre-law track, had two study abroad experiences that impacted her undergraduate education.


Double the Experience

In 2019, Humphries spent a semester at Korea University in South Korea. During the fall 2021 semester, she studied abroad again at the American University of Rome in Italy.

“In both experiences, I improved my language skills by speaking with locals rather than just through textbooks,” says the Charlotte, North Carolina native. “I took courses in international business and international law, all while living internationally. I met students from around the world and heard their perspectives on world issues and issues concerning their respective countries. Through those classes, my worldview expanded, and I became a more knowledgeable individual.”

Humphries is the president of HPU’s Model United Nations, a Business Fellow and a member of Phi Alpha Delta, an international law fraternity.

“Going abroad to live in two different foreign countries, one in Asia and one in Europe, let me experience two wholly new parts of the world,” says Humphries. “Both times I had to adjust to a new culture and language. Learning to adapt has made me a far more capable person who is unafraid to travel to new places and take on new challenges.”

And national research data shows consistent results in students who have studied abroad.

First, students who study abroad have higher retention rates and higher graduating GPAs. Second, no matter where or how long a student studied abroad, two important attributes always grow: confidence and independence.

“Studying abroad encourages a deep and long-lasting engagement with academic studies, and on faculty-led programs especially, it fosters the opportunities for mentorship and experiential learning that are so connected to academic success,” says Palis.