STEM Students Abroad: The Benefits of the Challenges

No matter the field of study, if students have a knack for adventure and travel, Kent State will see to their study abroad endeavors. Kent State has multiple STEM students studying abroad in the spring semester, a bright outlook for a demographic that does not traditionally travel for credit in their college experience.

The Simon Award Winning Kent State Office of Global Education currently oversees Podiatry students in Canada and Italy; an Applied Mathematics student in South Korea; Global Degree students majoring in Computer Science in Prague; and Biology, Public Health, Nursing, and Aeronautics students in Florence. They range from studying abroad for a full semester to a full academic year.

Within the context of the entire United States, only 7.4% of students who studied abroad in 2021 majored in Physical and Life Sciences, according to Open Doors. The data also shows that, historically, students of the Social Sciences and Business and Management are more likely to take their studies abroad. According to Ronan Waroquet, an Applied Mathematics and Physics major at Kent State studying in Seoul, South Korea, STEM programs abroad are often very limited. However, they are well worth it, especially as Waroquet finds that he is challenged in the best ways.

“There is lots of self-studying required and there is lots of competition amongst students. The standards are set higher and you are expected to perform on par with the best students,” Waroquet commented.

Waroquet is in his 5th year at Kent State, currently studying at Korea University--Sejong Campus. A reason he wanted to study abroad was so that he could fully immerse himself in an unfamiliar culture for an extended period of time. Before landing in South Korea, Waroquet says the Office of Global Education really helped with making his experience come alive. Not only did he feel encouraged to study abroad with the large selection of programs, but he was in constant contact with the advisors so that the transition would be smooth. “I am a STEM student and programs were limited,” he explained. “With the help of the education department and their advisors, I was able to narrow down my search and attend school in South Korea.”

Waroquet also mentioned that the Office of Global Education encouraged him to study abroad even before he started looking through the programs for himself. “[Kent State] really succeeded in captivating their programs claiming that the experiences would be enriching and rewarding. Students who have studied abroad through the department have only said good qualities the programs have provided them.”

Though science and mathematics are universal languages around the world, Waroquet says a hurdle he has faced--and believes many other STEM students have faced--is the way students are introduced to science and math concepts before university. At a university level, the United States is on a similar academic standard to that of other countries, like South Korea. However, Waroquet noted, in his classroom experience abroad, his native classmates appear more acquainted with certain science and math concepts because these concepts are introduced much earlier than in traditional classroom settings in the United States.

Despite having to compensate a little for the different methods of content introduction pre-university, Waroquet says that encountering obstacles as a foreigner has allowed him to learn more. “Homework and exams are more difficult, but in the end, allowing yourself to exit your comfort zone and pursue such a hard field abroad is very desirable by certain careers.”

Waroquet hopes to finish up the school year in Seoul. Meanwhile, the Kent State Office of Global Education continues to ensure his experience is enjoyable and rewarding. “I genuinely feel looked out for by the [Education Abroad] department,” Waroquet mentioned. “They gave me the excitement and the information necessary for my safety and academic goals abroad.” When asked to comment on his experience studying abroad, Waroquet explained there were challenges, especially as a STEM student, but ultimately, he believes there is no disadvantage to becoming a more worldly student.

Learn more about the Korea University Sejong Campus program here!


A street lined with homes in a traditional neighborhood in South Korea.
POSTED: Friday, May 20, 2022 01:27 PM
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 28, 2024 12:55 AM
Arden Miller, Kent State Department of English and OGE Spring Intern