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Fall 2008 marks a record number of SF State students traveling to other countries to study
May 1, 2008 2:24 PM
Two hundred and eighty-six SF State students—the most in the university’s history—will be recognized for their acceptance into a study abroad program at today’s Certification Ceremony in McKenna Theatre, according to the latest numbers provided by the Office of International Programs.
Among the honorees is 19-year-old Tabitha Russell, who said she has dreamed about studying abroad since she was 15. She will leave North America for the first time to spend two semesters in the Netherlands and Denmark.
Anthony Morin, 20, will apply several years’ worth of French classes to his studies in Paris, where he’ll also teach English as a second language to elementary and high school students.
Renee Naomi Lancet, 21, hopes to return from Santiago, Chile, fluent in three languages: English, Japanese and Spanish.
“Ninety-five percent [of these students] are going abroad for a year,” said Noah Kuchins, the international exchange programs adviser and an SF State study abroad alumnus.
The university is second in the nation in terms of sending students abroad on bilateral exchange programs and makes up over 25 percent of the students in CSU international programs, according to the OIP.
For some students, such as Veronica Benjamin, this moment of recognition has been a long time coming.
While visiting her brother on a study abroad program in the Netherlands in 2005, Benjamin was envious of how much fun he was having with his new international friends, she said.
“He could go visit them and have a house to stay at in almost every European country,” the international relations major said. “I wanted to do the exact same.”
She has been accepted at the University of Pavia in Italy through the SF State bilateral exchange program.
“My brother studied in South Africa and [he] made me feel like I was not taking advantage of my college career if I didn’t study abroad,” said the 21-year-old, who is headed to Querétaro, Mexico, through the yearlong CSU program.
Their timing couldn’t be better. With the possible California educational budget cuts causing students to fret about slimmer offerings next fall, those going abroad can load up on classes that could be impacted at SF State. Benjamin’s schedule is full with courses in international relations, European history and politics so that she can complete a European area studies minor abroad.
“I wouldn’t have been able to take all these classes at once here at [SF State],” she said.
Other countries also offer students a new crop of classes and unique programs. As a humanities major hoping to become a nurse, Melissa Vargas will spend her year at the University of Amsterdam broadening her multicultural knowledge—something she feels is important in the nursing field. Her schedule consists of courses in sexuality, Netherlands political policy, intercultural communications and the Dutch language.
“To really understand a culture, it is important to know their language and I really want to [immerse] myself completely in Dutch culture,” said Vargas, who has met several Dutch students on exchange at SF State through International Education Exchange Council activities.
Four journalism majors are getting ready to complete the yearlong Europe in the World program. They’ll spend the fall semester in Utrecht, the Netherlands, concentrating on European politics, economics, history and journalism philosophy, while the Danish School of Journalism in Århus, Denmark, will sharpen their interview skills and send them reporting all over Europe in the spring.
“I’m positive it will be life-changing,” Sarah Chase, 21, said. “I hope it will give me a leg up competition-wise, but also help me grow as a writer in my own ways.”
Seven SF State students will spend five weeks at the University of Seoul in South Korea this summer, taking advantage of a program available only to those who have already completed terms abroad. S
Sundeep Dosanjh, an SF State BECA major, is planning to take a media studies course and a Korean language course with the hope that he’ll be able to relate to his interview subjects better.
“Traveling abroad is a great way to understand different traditions [you may not] see in California,” said the 24-year-old, who traveled to more than 19 countries while studying in Sweden.
Besides missing their friends and family while abroad, some students expressed particular aspects of San Francisco—many cuisine-related—that will hold a special place in their memory.
“[I’ll miss] Pancho Villa Taqueria, [but] I will not miss the fog,” said Netherlands-bound Russell.
“[I will also miss] the burritos in the [Cesar Chavez] Student Center—the Mexican food in Paris is terrible,” said Aimee Armstrong, a psychology and French double major who plans to spend two years studying in Aix-en-Provence and Paris.
“The commitment to study abroad and internationalization is truly incredible at SF State,” said David Wick, coordinator of study abroad programs. “The students selected this term can be very proud to be part of the continuation of that tradition.”
Students at the ceremony will be divided up by region: the Americas, Africa, the Pacific Rim and Europe. Among the friends and family in the audience, the OIP has invited SF State faculty, administration and staff members, the 86 department chairs, eight college deans, and diplomats from each country.
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