ACES short-term study abroad programs offer immersive opportunities
Illinios students in Capte down during winter break 2018-19
Illinois students in Cape Town during winter break 2018-19.
Photo by Megan Kalinowski
March 11, 2019

Article submitted by Gregory French, ACES Advisor and Graduate Student Intern


Opportunities to step outsides of one’s comfort zone are among the many reasons students choose to study abroad. For many students, winter break is a convenient time to experience a new culture while earning academic credit by participating in a faculty led study-abroad program.  

For recipients of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental (ACES) Arlys Conrad Study Abroad Scholarship, submitting a reflection of their time abroad is one way in which students share and demonstrate the impact of this experience. The experiences highlighted below exemplify what many of our students gain personally, culturally, and academically through studying abroad.

Healthcare in South Africa

During January 2019, Stefan King, a student in the Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition who aspires to attend medical school, participated in the ACES faculty-led program: Service Learning, Child, Family, Health and Agriculture in Cape Town, South Africa.

“I had a wonderful opportunity to volunteer in various aspects of a health clinic to gain understanding of how things were run and see first-hand how they worked with a limited amount of resources to maintain the clinic.”

Stefan’s reflection upon his experience as a whole is perhaps the most powerful:

“I have gained a new perspective about healthcare in a global framework. After experiencing the conditions some individuals face, I aspire to use this experience to empathize with patients’ needs.”

See more about this annual winter break program here led by Jan Brooks, an instructor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. The deadline to apply for the 2019 program is April 15.

Environmental Systems in Costa Rica

Rose Carroll, a first-year student in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, also participated in an education aboard program over winter break: Discovering Agricultural & Environmental Systems in Costa Rica.

Being surrounded by indigenous plants and fruits gave Rose a unique opportunity to learn about horticulture and sustainability. She made a genuine connection with an academic field while gaining practical experience that will serve her well in the future. 

“I have been very hesitant about my plans for the future; however, this trip has given me something I can be passionate about. Choosing the renewable energy concentration is my new academic plan.”

Read more about this winter break program here led by Ms. Jean Drasgow, director of career services in the College of ACES.

Bridging the global gap

The chance to apply academic experiences abroad adds much to a students’ portfolio and often enhances their career goals. Further, these experiences bridge the global gap and motivate students to contribute to an increasingly global society. Consequently, an experience abroad, even one of a couple weeks duration over winter break, may end up being a defining moment in a student’s undergraduate years.

For more information on ACES faculty-led study abroad programs visit: