Two continents in two weeks. Dr. Tracy Nobiling’s sabbatical during the Fall 2018 semester was anything but sedentary. Nobiling, a Professor of Justice Studies, spent her time exploring Study Abroad opportunities for Chadron State College students and faculty in Spain and Australia.
“As a study abroad faculty director, I see my role as teaching academic content, but I’m also teaching students to contribute to society through their profession or volunteering in their communities,” Nobiling said. “Research supports the claims that students who study abroad experience personal growth, enhance their employment opportunities, and become global citizens.”
Nobiling certainly gained exposure to Spain and Australia. The two trips were organized through International Studies Abroad (ISA) – the same organization that helps organize CSC’s current Study Abroad opportunities to England and Ireland.
Nobiling said the trips to Spain and Australia were designed for college personnel who help facilitate Study Abroad programs for students. She went to Spain and Australia because CSC students surveyed indicated they had a strong interest in studying abroad in Australia and Spain.
Nobiling joined several colleagues from various universities to tour the Gold Coast, Brisbane, and Newcastle, and Sydney, Australia, in October, and Valencia, Madrid, and Salamanca, Spain, in November.
“We experienced what the ISA students will do as part of their program,” said Nobling, who updated her travel blog during site visits. “There are bridging cultures programs to get the students acclimated to the area and we did some of those activities. We also visited student housing, toured universities, met faculty and sat in classes. To get the sense of what students will experience was incredibly helpful because now we will be better able to advise our students on what university will match their goals and needs.”
While in Australia, Nobiling and others experienced the country just as students would during a Study Abroad trip. They watched a sunrise from the Byron Bay Lighthouse, took a surfing lesson, observed the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, met with internship organizations such as the Cancer Council in Newcastle, and toured several schools, including Bond University, Griffith University, Queensland University of Technology, and the University of Newcastle City Campus and Main Campus. Nobiling and the others also toured student accommodations and ate dinner with current ISA students.
“I can see the potential for sciences and even the Rangeland program in Australia. We met with science faculty at a university that talked about summer programs where they study the Great Barrier Reef – it would be great to have CSC students be a part of that,” she said.
While in Spain, Nobiling participated in several walking tours, met with ISA students and toured their housing, and visited the Catholic University of Valencia, the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Universidad Carlos III, Universidad Antonio de Nebrija, and the University of Salamanca.
At the conclusion of her sabbatical, Nobiling submitted a report that outlines a plan to expand Study Abroad offerings at CSC to the college’s Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Dean of Liberal Arts and Essential Studies.
“Now that I have first-hand knowledge of these universities, programs, and places, I hope to be able to assist in recruiting and advising students for participation in semester abroad programs to these and other locations,” Nobiling said. “I also hope that my experience will open more doors for faculty-directed study abroad programs for CSC students.”
Whether it is England, Ireland, Spain or Australia, Nobiling said all students can benefit from studying abroad.
“An ISA student I talked to in Spain said that when she came there to study abroad she expected to learn about another culture,” Nobiling said. “But she went on to say how she didn’t realize how much she would learn about her own culture. Studying abroad is important to students because it gives them something to compare themselves and their experiences to. How do we know that our justice system is really working or the best it can be unless we’re open to examining what other places do? We want to create lifelong learners. Obviously, when you study abroad there’s exposure to new people and making connections, but an ability to understand a little bit more about why we do things and who we are is just as important.”