More Purdue Science students embark on study abroad opportunities


The College of Science doesn’t wait until freshmen orientation to introduce incoming students to the positive possibilities of studying abroad.

Our recruitment office is starting to talk about the plusses of studying overseas for a semester, summer or even Maymester to juniors and seniors in high school. The College is a strong supporter of undergrads heading to Asia, Europe, South America and Australia to gain credits and world experience. Our goal is to create well-rounded students and spending time in another culture is part of that initiative.

Students take classes and conduct field and/or lab research in exotic locales. Several scholarship and grant opportunities are available to finance such trips, including working with Purdue Science’s own Learning Beyond the Classroom.

More than 300 College of Science students have taken advantage of study abroad opportunities in the last two academic years, including Megan Geshan, a Biological Sciences senior. She attended classes at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, where she worked in two labs -- studying stress effects on barramundi fish and their blood parameters and looking at viruses and microbes on the golden perch from the Great Barrier Reef.

“It was a huge, huge benefit,” Geshan said of her experience. “I actually went on several scuba diving excursions off the coast.”

Some of her dives included exploring the Great Barrier Reef.

“Being down at the reef, it was a very life-changing experience,” Geshan recalled. “You see so much life and diversity of life. … How it all works together harmoniously is interesting to see  -- especially comparing it to our terrestrial ecosystem.”

The benefits of a study abroad experience don’t just show up on transcripts. It molds a student and gets him or her ready for the next phase in life – graduate school, industry or anything else.

“For me, studying abroad taught me a lot about myself, and it taught me to be resilient and adaptable,” Geshan explained. “You really have to learn to delegate your time appropriately to succeed in your classes and your labs. Even though you’re in a different place. It’s not weird. It’s not bad. It’s just different. Figuring that out is applicable to any life path or career path I choose to take.”

Michelle Peterson, another Bio senior, also completed the James Cook program. The experience helped her decide on a focus in Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology.

“I found more direction in my life,” she said. “I figured out what I want to do with my life after I graduate.”

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