For those interested in the international education opportunities offered by the University of Denver, there are few people better to talk to than its Director of International Education, Denise Cope. A teacher and world traveler, Denise has lived all over the globe and has worked with DU for the last year and a half.
According to Denise, study abroad is an experience “built into the overall culture” of DU. With over 150 Partner Programs across 50+ different countries, the amount of options students have are staggering - from places like England and France, to locations as diverse as Ulan Bator, Mongolia and Vladivostok, Russia. Pursuing these types of experiences is critically important, says Denise, and not just for a student’s personal or academic development.
“International experience is baseline in today’s global economy and job market. If a student doesn’t have some significant international experience and intercultural awareness, then they start out at a deficit. We want DU students to shine in the job market, and therefore we offer term-length study abroad.”
This focus on study abroad, particularly the support DU offers for term-length travel, is something unique in college environments. However, these resources are the student’s responsibility to capitalize on, which Denise says involves starting early. “Students should visit us in our office in the fall term of their sophomore year, if not earlier.”
Preparation for study abroad is something that should not be taken lightly. However, with a program headed by people like Denise Cope, students will be prepared for wherever they find themselves in the world. The Office of International Education (OIE) is committed to helping students succeed with their international endeavors - not just financially and academically, but also emotionally and psychologically.
When asked about what students can do to mediate the transition of going abroad, Denise had this advice to share: “Know what culture shock looks like and how it manifests. Often it manifests as a lot of complaining or negative judgments about the other culture. Bring awareness and compassion for yourself when you feel that sensation while abroad. Also, before going abroad, I suggest developing strategies (along with a student's parents) for ways of dealing with the stress. What does a student need to feel grounded again?”
OIE possesses a unique level of intuition regarding the complexities of study abroad, which is a boon to students looking for fulfilling, life-altering international experiences. The people who help DU students go abroad also love being abroad. Unsurprisingly, this spirit is personified in Denise’s reflections on her own experience:
“I have a fondness for all of the countries that I have lived and worked in: France, Morocco, Japan and Turkey. If I had to choose one I would probably choose Morocco. The landscape is vibrant, the people hospitable and the food other worldly. Plus, I love speaking French there!”