Behind the scenes of international studies

Every year thousands of students travel abroad to receive an international education and even more travel to the states for a U.S. educational experience. Western Carolina University is no exception. WCU’s International Program and Services Department holds several events throughout the year to recognize international studies including: open houses, International Education Week, International Festival, Career Service fairs, and numerous classroom presentations.

“We try to do everything we can, we try to be noisy,” says John Schweikart, WCU’s Study Abroad Advisor.

The best way to recruit international students is “word of mouth.” If international students have a great experience at WCU they tell fellow classmates back home, and Western Carolina, in return, receives more international students. This semester WCU has 75 international students from different countries on campus. Many of these students have dreamed of coming to America to study, and they chose WCU as their international home. Western Carolina students also have dreams of studying abroad and there are countless countries they can receive their education in. This semester there were 17 WCU students that traveled abroad to further their education in 12 different countires.

The educational setting is much different from country to country. Marcelo Meireles is an international student from Portugal, studying at WCU. He has dreamed of coming to America to study for many years and enjoys the way the educational system is run here.

Marcelo says his day-to-day life changed 360 degrees after coming to WCU. “Here it is much more quite, its peaceful. Economically it helps growing, because there is not as much distraction” compared to his home university.  “Here at the campus it works almost like a town, a mini-town, within itself and it provides the students everything they need to learn, and to have a good time.”  Marcello says he chose WCU because of the faculty-to-student ratio and the technology available on campus for his commutation major.

“The education is really,

There are many international students that come to WCU, but there are also students that travel to many other universities around the world. Rachel Reich studied abroad in South Korea. Her classroom educational experience was much the same as here in the states.


Studying abroad is not only about the classroom education you receive; it’s a lifelong learning tool that many never knew existed. “It (studying abroad) really does have some profound changes on really your whole process of thinking and your ability to learn,” says Schweikart.

During WCU’s annual spring break Marcelo and 4 friends took a road trip up north to visit Washington, DC and New York City.  “It was inspiring,

Rachel also had some life changing experiences while in South Korea. During her time abroad was there for the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War and she was taken onto a military base for the day.

Being in international student anywhere in the world has it’s up’s and downs. But it is a continuous learning experience that students can never receive in a classroom.

Most students fall in love with the country they study in and long to travel back.

I am another WCU student that studied abroad during a semester of college. I also fell in love with traveling and have every desire to find a way to expand my travel’s and see more of the world. During my semester abroad I had many out-of-class learning experiences just as Marcelo and Rachel. To read more about my adventures read Lauren Johnson’s story A cowboy hat and a shot gun.

For more information about where students can study abroad or becoming an international student at WCU, contact Western Carolina’s International Programs and Services Department.