Communication Students Study Abroad Down Under


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Studying abroad is an important and constantly evolving component of a WKU education. In fact, it has become such an anticipated part of students’ college experiences that individual departments have begun creating specialized Study Abroad programs so their students can study abroad within their major.

Dr. Donna Schiess led the most recent  Department of Communication study abroad trip to Australia, particularly Melbourne, Warrnambool, and Fiji Island. Sites visited on the trip included the Twelve Apostles, London Bridge, Lady Bay Beach, and the Wildlife Park exhibit, where students were given the opportunity to interact with wild kangaroos, wallabies, and koala bears. This trip was Dr. Schiess’ first opportunity to teach abroad, and she said, “I really enjoyed it.”  When asked what she felt was the biggest benefit for Communication students of the trip, she stated, “I feel the interactions with some of the Australian students and teachers were great for them because they were able to see the differences in educational practices in communication. Not everything can be learned out of a book, so it was a lot more experiential for them in regards to learning and observing intercultural communication practices.”

Paige Freeman, a senior from Louisville, Kentucky, enjoyed her time on the trip, describing it as “life-changing, peaceful, and fun.” She said her favorite part of the trip was “interacting with the Fijians and observing their style of communication and love for celebration through music” because she felt that part of her communication background was also a “reflection of music.”  Further, she described the most challenging part of her trip was also an interaction with the Fijians as she tried to learn parts of their language and found that “it was very different and consisted of different forms of communication but shared the same meaning.”  While abroad, Freeman completed courses in Intercultural Communication and Special Topics in Communication.  She suggested other potential courses that could benefit from being taught abroad would include Leadership Communication and Small Group Communication.

All students and faculty, both from WKU and Australia’s Deakin University, benefitted greatly from the cultural interactions inspired by this Study Abroad trip.  To see future study abroad opportunities at WKU and in the Department of Communication, visit https://www.wku.edu/studyabroad/.

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