Prior to the global disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chico State students were attending several dozens of colleges and universities abroad—while also gaining the experience of their lifetimes. As global travel reopens, their prospects for international experiences are returning, building on a legacy that has spanned nearly two decades.
Once again, the Institute of International Education (IIE) has recognized the University as being one of the most active and engaged US higher education institutions in its category for participation in studying abroad.
In its latest Open Doors rankings for the 2019–20 academic year (the most recent year for which data is available), the IIE ranked Chico State’s Study Abroad and Exchange program as tied at No. 5 in the nation—up two spots from last year—for master’s colleges and universities, with 59 participants studying overseas for a year or longer.
Study Abroad and Exchange Coordinator Ximena Ospina said that the experience students gain when they study abroad is certainly felt while they are living in another country—but the benefits can often have a transformative impact on the rest of their lives.
“In a globalized world, education abroad opportunities are fundamental for the development of students as they gain and strengthen global competencies and make their imprint in the world,” she said. “These cultural and global endeavors allow for personal and professional growth, and sets students apart as they transition into post-graduation life with a deeper sense of self and compassion.”
This is the 16th consecutive year Chico State has been recognized in the IIE’s top 10 list for year-long participation.
The CSU occupied six of the top 10 slots in the same category, including top-ranked San Francisco State (which sent 140 students abroad), No. 3 Sonoma State (69), No. 4 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (64), CSUN (tied with Chico State at No. 5) and No. 9 San Jose State University (34).
Alexandria Ingvardsen studied in Italy during the spring 2020 semester—only to have it cut short by the global pandemic. But even in her brief time abroad, the communication design major found the experience rewarding.
“I think Study Abroad allows you to be courageous in aspects of life you couldn’t before,” said Ingvardsen, a senior. “It gives you the opportunity to find yourself, to identify your superpower.”
A total of 333 Chico State students studied abroad during the 2019–20 academic year, with Italy, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, Germany, Peru and the Netherlands the top destinations among 39 available countries. Of those, 59 students were yearlong participants.
As the world realized the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic in spring 2020, Chico State had 123 students studying abroad whose programs were interrupted. With the support of international partners and campus allies, students were supported by Chico State’s International Education and Global Engagement as they returned home and transitioned to remote learning.
In 2019-20, the University supported 307 international students from 51 nations across the globe. Various academic departments hosted eight visiting international scholars, IEGE launched the International Wildcat Global Café and Collaborative Online Learning (COIL) to support global learning virtually and educators and learners from around the world were welcomed to campus through grant-funded projects facilitated by International Training Programs.