December 2018

The world is an open window, and Palm Beach Atlantic’s Rinker Center for Experiential Learning is providing opportunities for study abroad students to get a whole new worldview.


Never before have there been more study abroad rewarding opportunities for PBA students.

“The experience has been absolutely incredible,” said senior Courtney Smith from her flat [apartment] in Denmark. “By the end of this semester, I will have travelled to eight countries, including England!”

This statement, coming from the same young woman from Coral Springs, Florida, who never thought of studying overseas. And now, in less than three months, she has not only lived in London, England, but has trekked throughout Europe, visiting Scotland, Ireland, Austria, Germany, Norway and now Denmark. All those experiences have opened up her eyes and mind to a whole new world beyond the U.S.

Her change of heart came during her senior year in high school, when she visited her sister, Alyssa Smith ‘17, in Florence, Italy, where she was doing her PBA study abroad program.

“I fell in love with Europe and I just had to experience living there for myself,” said Smith, who determined to schedule her entire college degree plan around her semester of study abroad.

For this business management major with a concentration in entrepreneurship, her dream plan included University of Roehampton in London, a place she’d always wanted to visit. It would also fulfill one of her honors English classes, while seeing the sights. The children’s literature class was taught by guest instructor, Dr. Carl Miller, assistant professor of English for PBA’s School of Arts & Sciences. They read a different book every week, and it was not taught in a classroom, which really sealed the deal for her.

Smith saw how London is booming with business. Not only in the finance field, as often assumed, but also in entrepreneurship.

“One of my classes was entrepreneurship development, and we had to create a business and present it,” said Smith, who’d done some similar work in PBA entrepreneurship courses before, but never to this extent. “My Roehampton professor had us actually post our startup ideas on crowdfunding sites so we could get funding and potentially launch our businesses.”

Aside from the learning experiences, Smith admits the best part of studying abroad is meeting both locals and other study abroad students. The community of her flat is one of the best parts of this entire study abroad experience. “We call ourselves the ‘Garden Court Family’ and I could not be more grateful for each and every person who lives here,” she said.

“I’ve also been able to live out my dream of seeing theatre productions on the West End, such as The Phantom of the Opera and The Mousetrap. One of the highlights, though, was a surprise. My friends and I were in Leicester Square one day, and just happened upon the premiere for the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film. We got to see the entire cast and J. K. Rowling in person that night. It rocked!”

Immersion is the quickest way to learning, and Smith could really see herself visiting South Korea next to learn about their culture. Junior Martin Deacon, an accounting and finance major from Peachtree, Georgia, will be experiencing this first-hand next spring when he starts his study abroad semester at Korea University [Korea's Ivy league] in Seoul, South Korea.

“Though I have been to over 21 countries, East Asia is still very new to me,” said Deacon, whose family is originally from South Africa, where his father began serving as the president of Teach Every Nation [TEN], a ministry that is focused on training untrained pastors with over 100,000 students worldwide.

“I’ve always been interested in Asian culture, lifestyle and economics. And since I want to work in international tax and possibly mergers, Seoul was a natural choice. It is an economic powerhouse and one of the most technologically advanced cities in Asia and the world,” he said.

For junior Jessica Bowen, a dance major from New Port Richey, Florida, exploring other cities and cultures was an instant attraction to the study abroad experience. Out of the 20 plus study abroad locations PBA offers, she chose Italy because the program offered in Florence matched the classes she wanted to take, and so according to her, “it was a win-win.”

Bowen is back from Italy, and she said, “by far, it’s the coolest thing I have ever done. The people are so nice, the food is amazing, and you are constantly surrounded by breathtaking sights everywhere you go. Being able to see so many of God’s amazing creations impacted me greatly.”

“The school made it very easy and affordable to study abroad, as most of the fees were already included in tuition price. I also worked a little more in the semester before I left so that I could have some extra money as well as using some of my savings,” said Bowen.

The University makes the study abroad program as accessible as possible to all students. Unlike most universities across the country, PBA offers 100 percent of a student’s financial aid package towards a semester study abroad. “We have additional scholarships for students, and we also offer ideas for fundraising,” said Danielle Hawk, coordinator for the Rinker Center of Experiential Learning. “The majority of students find that a study abroad semester is the same out of pocket cost for them to spend a semester at PBA. We’ve worked really hard to make it that way.”

According to Hawk, all of PBA study abroad programs include: housing accommodations, tuition, meals, flight, international travel and medical insurance and excursions.

“I don’t ever want to hear a student say that they want to explore new countries, but they can’t go abroad because they can’t afford it,” said Hawk. “That’s why the Gilman’s Scholarship Program, a grant program of the U.S. Department of State that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, and other additional scholarships are so important.”

There’s a whole new country outside a student’s window to explore. And an international adventure is something everyone should experience at some point during their college career. “I believe that in order to grow as an individual, one must be placed in environments and situations that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable; there are few ways as effective as being placed 11,500 kilometers away from home,” said Deacon.

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