Roman Adventure

Kristen Meadows is heading to Rome this summer. She will be studying at American University in Rome through a program coordinated by International Studies Abroad (ISA) group. GSC partners with ISA to provide study abroad experiences for students. Dr. Megan Gibbons, Assistant Professor of Spanish at GSC is the Study Abroad Advisor at GSC.

Kristen, who is double majoring in accounting and management and minoring in nonprofit, first approached Dr. Gibbons about the idea of studying abroad in the fall of 2013. Together, they determined that summer would work best for Kristen as she still wanted to pursue her course of study and graduate on time. After looking at the programs available in the summer, they chose to pursue a spot in Rome because they offered a course in International Organizational Behavior that would give her credit towards her major and as an elective she has enrolled in a course called the  American-Italian experience. The course offers a bit of language, a bit of culture, and even a bit cooking. She will also have the opportunity to go on an excursion to another locale every weekend; she is most excited about the opportunity to visit Florence.

One of the first questions most people ask is, “How can I afford this?” There are several opportunities for funding available. Any student who receives a Pell grant may apply for the Gilman Scholarship. The scholarship requires that you be in-country for four weeks and is around $3,000 and if you are studying abroad for an entire semester, the amount is closer to $5,000. Furthermore, if you are traveling to a country that speaks a language that has been designated a “critical language”, like Arabic, you may be awarded an additional $3,000. Up to $8,000 is available through the Gilman scholarship. While Kristen is not eligible for a Pell grant, she has been saving, working extra hours at her job, and drumming up support from family members. Do not let the fear of affordability keep you from exploring this opportunity. You can do this!

“I am here to help and can get you pointed in the right direction. GSC is making real strides towards getting their students out to see other places and take advantage of programs like this,” says Dr. Gibbons. Travel abroad was common for GSC students 10-20 years ago. Dr. Gibbons is working to bring travel back to our school culture. Travel abroad should be a standard part of the GSC experience.  Hopefully, within the next five years, GSC will be offering six faculty-led programs of varying lengths: a week for spring break, two weeks at the end of a semester, maybe four weeks during the summer. Dr. Gibbons understands that it is hard for student to leave for an entire semester and is interested in developing opportunities that may be a little less expensive, but just as intense. These shorter options will offer the same sense of immersion that characterizes a rich cultural experience.

Dr. Gibbons coordinates with Joanna DiStefano, our Counselor in Career Services, on international internship opportunities. Study abroad experiences are a wonderful and exciting way to explore your interests, gain a better sense of what you can achieve, and build a strong professional network for the future,” says Joanna DiStafano, Counselor in Career Services. If you are looking for something to augment rather than substitute for your coursework, internships are a great option. There are thousands of international service learning opportunities available as well.

Both Dr. Gibbons and Kristen stressed the fact that the rewards are well worth the effort. Do not stop with wondering if you could do this, start planning now. Try to start planning at least a year before you would like begin your international experience.

Visit the GSC Study Abroad web page by clicking here.

Visit the ISA website and set up a free, online account. The application process is simple; just a few questions as to why travel abroad is important to you, your major, and your career goals. Kristen received a confirmation within one week. Then, when you apply for funding, you may be asked to write a 1-2 page short essay.

Students from any department can come to Dr. Gibbons with questions. However, you may want to talk with one of your professors first, then to Dr. Gibbons for the most current information.

As Kristen says, “Do the research, just do it and you will be glad that you did.” And if you see Kristen around campus, be sure to congratulate her. She is our Pioneer for the revitalization of the study abroad program at GSC.

For further information or questions, please contact Dr. Megan Gibbons at or Joanna DiStefano at


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