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April 25, 2018
Life At Witt

The View From Costa Rica

Professor of Biology Margaret Goodman reflects on the distinctive features of the university’s approach to international education

From the unique perspective of one who has directed both of Wittenberg’s semester-long, study-abroad programs, Professor of Biology Margaret Goodman reflects on the distinctive features of the university’s approach to international education – which emphasizes affordability and accessibility – as her semester in San José, Costa Rica, winds down.

When I first heard about the Wittenberg in Wittenberg, Germany study-abroad program, it seemed like a great idea, building from Witt’s Lutheran tradition, incorporating the liberal arts, tying the program to internships and to our general education requirements, and providing language immersion.

Now, the Wittenberg in Costa Rica program has the added spin of community service and a plus for athletes to continue training and to interact with the athletes here. It's been great to hear the students talking about their experiences practicing with a volleyball team here and sharing stories with athletic trainer Marce Araya. It's also a plus that students in both programs can apply their Wittenberg financial aid and scholarships to program costs. That gives a psychological as well as a financial boost to overcome the activation barrier of planning to study abroad. On top of that, it feels like students who haven’t been abroad before and parents who are concerned about their children really appreciate the benefits of going with a group from Witt, accompanied by a faculty member. And the staff on site in both countries is fabulous.

But here in San José, as I meet other students who are studying abroad and describe our programs to them, I can see the envy – particularly for the ones who are having trouble transferring classes or hours or had some confusion over what would and wouldn't count. Recently, I met a group of retired faculty and staff from schools across the United States who have worked with study-abroad programs for students. As we waited in lines chatting, I told them about our program and they were impressed – four months here, host families, community service (they really liked that), intensive language study, courses built into Witt's structure for easy transfer and matching needed credits, local staff on site, a faculty member who comes with them and teaches a class and has some responsibility for tying the class to the location and culture. It’s really remarkable.

Margaret Goodman, professor of biology and director of the biochemistry/molecular biology program
Director of Wittenberg in Costa Rica (Spring Semester 2018)
Director of Wittenberg in Wittenberg, Germany (Spring Semester 2014)

Wittenberg In Wittenberg, Germany

Wittenberg, Germany, located just south of Berlin, is an important cultural, historic and artistic center in Europe. The birthplace of the Reformation and the home of the original University of Wittenberg, the city offers exciting opportunities for students to learn by doing. Through courses in German language, culture and history, excursions to major German and European cities, and internships in a variety of settings from the mayor’s office to schools to refugee centers and labs, students gain an understanding of the city’s importance in the Middle Ages and the 20th century, as well as Germany’s place in modern Europe.

Wittenberg in Costa Rica

Wittenberg’s newest study-abroad option in Costa Rica provides a comprehensive cross-cultural experience that combines intensive language instruction, general education courses, community service, weekend excursions, and opportunities for student-athletes to train and condition in their respective sport. Based in the dynamic capital of San José, students have easy access to the cultural and historic sites of the city, as well as the natural beauty and biodiversity Costa Rica is famous for, from rainforests and volcanoes to the Pacific Coast and Caribbean Sea.

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About Wittenberg

A nationally ranked university for the liberal arts and sciences affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Wittenberg University has repeatedly been ranked throughout the years by the Princeton Review for the quality of its teaching and faculty, including 11th in the nation for "Best Classroom Experience" and 15th in the category "Professors Get High Marks" in the 2011 edition of Princeton's annual Best Colleges guide. Most recently, Wittenberg earned the No. 4 spot in the category of "Most Accessible Professors." Wittenberg appeared in the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges in 2013 and again in 2015. Additionally, Wittenberg currently has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any other four-year institution in the state, and has been recognized nationally for excellence in service and athletics.

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