STEM Student Awarded Two Study Abroad Scholarships
CU Denver Study Abroad Is Within Your ReachDec 20, 2016
Studying abroad adds breadth and depth to a college student’s academic experience, however, fewer than 5% of the 300,000 students who study abroad are in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs. The rigor of these disciplines often means there is little time to travel, and students in all majors often face budget challenges. But at the University of Colorado Denver, students are increasingly discovering ways that studying abroad is within their reach through help from the team in the CU Denver Global Education: Study Abroad office.
Charles Bollig is a perfect example. Bollig, who is majoring in electrical engineering with a minor in computer science, understands the meaning of doing his research, talking to the Study Abroad staff and peer advisors, and just plain hard work. His efforts resulted in Bollig applying for and successfully being awarded not only one, but two study abroad scholarships: the Boren Scholarship and the Fund for Education Abroad (FEA). Both scholarships aid underrepresented students in underrepresented areas of study abroad throughout the world. The Boren also focuses on the study of critical language; preference is given to those who propose to study languages in countries or in fields of study that are deemed “critical to national security.”
Upon completing their study abroad programs, students who receive the Boren are expected to complete a service requirement stipulating that award recipients will work in the Federal Government in a position with national security responsibilities. Bollig is in the process of determining the agency where he will complete his NSEP service requirement. Working in this capacity will “provide me with an experience that will support my future goals as an entrepreneur.”
According to Bollig, a language barrier was not the most challenging aspect of his study abroad experience at National Taipei University of Technology. He speaks near-fluent Mandarin Chinese and is taking his math and engineering classes in Mandarin. Bollig noted that the most difficult thing about taking engineering classes abroad was that the “mathematical acuity of Taiwanese engineering students far surpasses anything that I could have expected before coming to Taiwan. It’s not that the students are inherently more intelligent, it’s just that there is much more rigorous mathematical preparation during primary school.” He commented that his roommate liked to make a joke:
“Taiwanese students wake up to go to school, leave school to go to cram school, and come home to have a brief rest before returning to school.” Utter excellence in education is very important to the Taiwanese people.
During his year in Taiwan, Bollig also enjoyed activities that provided cultural exposure and immersion. He experienced the Taiwanese people’s religions by visiting their temples, observed the strong entrepreneurial attitude in businesses, and learned more about the varying cultural differences between the north and the south.
One of Charles’ blog posts detailed several cultural differences such as the “god parade” that allows the traditional gods’ desires to be moved to a new temple to be fulfilled in peace, and the reverence demonstrated toward all animals. Exploring other areas of Taiwan, Bollig took trips to Tainan in the south for the grand opening of a friend’s new pizza restaurant and to WuLai, an area “that can give rest to a weary soul, a nature-lovers paradise.” He described the mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and wildlife that surround Taipei on all sides and noted that they “create a balance between the hustle and bustle of the city and the peace and serenity of nature.”
Bollig’s advice for other STEM students who are considering study abroad? “It’s not impossible. Just know what you are getting yourself into.” He explained,
“Studying abroad is about the experience of living abroad, not the experience of spending countless hours exploring the halls of your host school’s library. Do not attempt to enroll in as many STEM-related courses as you would normally take at home. Depending on where you go, be prepared to struggle. Do not try to go at it alone – make friends with your classmates as quickly as possible.”
Questions? Don’t hesitate to meet with the friendly staff at the CU Denver Office of Global Education: Study Abroad. As one team member said, “We’re here to help you plan your time abroad and make it a reality. It IS within your reach!”
Visit online to learn more about Global Education: Study Abroad programs at the University of Colorado Denver.
Are you a CU Denver student who is considering studying, volunteering, or doing research abroad? Remember to pre-register online or contact the Office of Global Education (OGE) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.315.2001. You can also contact OGE to find out more about service learning, research, and internship programs abroad – and have a great trip!