Those looking for a change of space while earning college credits are in luck. The University of Guam Study Abroad Program is seeking applications for an invaluable semester experience overseas.

Dr. Chris Rasmussen told KUAM News, "We know that one of the most impactful experiences that a university student can have is studying abroad - both in terms of personal growth, which is most important to me, but also in terms of getting a job after you graduate." The assistant professor of U.S. history heads UOG's overseas exchange committee.  UOG is looking to recruit college students from Guam to study abroad at partner universities where they can pay UOG tuition to take classes overseas. 

He says it’s an opportunity for personal and professional growth, noting, "There was recently a student who did one of Japanese Airlines scholarship to study for a month in Japan and was introduced to various industry leaders all across Japan. So you create these contacts that are important."

But it’s one that few take advantage of. "With our partner institutions, we have a deficit," Dr. Rassmusen admitted. "They send us more students here than we send to them. So don’t worry about spots. Likely there will be no competition."

He says studying abroad is an invaluable tool, especially in Guam’s tourism industry where having foreign language skills and cultural understanding is vital. Plus, students don't have to worry about falling behind.

"At many of the Japanese universities, there are a variety of English language classes our students can take, so they can fulfill general education requirements and fulfill their major requirements," he explained.

Besides the overseas exchange, there are numerous other programs that are not semester-based, like the Critical Language Scholarship Program.  It’s a two-month intensive language program that’s fully funded by the U.S. State Department. He said the initiative is, "focused exclusively on language acquisition," adding, "there are lots of benefits of this program. We’ve had three students from UOG do it. But oftentimes we don’t get any applicants."

One of those applicants last year is former Triton Esther Raposa, who was the sole CLS scholar chosen on Guam.  She beat out 1,500 applicants nationwide for a chance to study abroad during the summer in her home country, South Korea. "It was so fun!" she recalled. "I was actually an exchange student through UOG in 2015 at the same university, Busan National University. So it was really nice going back to the same university. Nothing really changed besides some stores closing from COVID. But it was so nice to go back to a place that was familiar."

And as a CLS Alumni Ambassador, the program opens doors - even ones in Washington, DC. "It was really rewarding experience. I got to network with a lot of different people from the United States. And i actually went to the alumni forum in March, so that was fun," she described.

It's a fun and life changing experience that she hopes other college students get to experience. Students have until September 22 to submit applications.

For more information, you can reach out to Dr. Rasmussen at at [email protected] or through your advisor.