More students eyeing study in Asia
November 14, 2008 10:56 PM
Asia currently houses one-third of the world’s population, and it’s getting a few more from SF State.
The Office of International Programs reported a 19 percent increase in the total number of students who studied in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan this year–-representing about 14 percent of all SF State students who chose to study abroad.
According to My Yarabinec, associate director of the OIP, this trend can be attributed to a few factors including new international studies programs, a substantial percentage of students who are of Asian heritage—representing about 20 percent of the campus—and a greater student awareness toward study abroad programs in general.
“Today there is a greater awareness of the possibility of studying abroad,” Yarabinec said.
Maria Flores, coordinator of study abroad programs, said Asia programs have been offered over the past few years. In the past couple of years, however, some universities in Asian countries also started to offer classes in English, which Flores says makes Asia a more appealing destination to the often non-native speaking students.
Yusseff Milburn, an SF State environmental studies student, said he decided to go to Asia mainly because he was able to find an English based education, yet still able to spend time in a place that was entirely different from the U.S. While in Asia, Milburn said he came to learn about China’s approach to the environment and a few cultural differences that led him to learn more about himself as an American and a citizen of the world.
“In an increasingly globalized world, I think having international exposure and contacts will always be beneficial to personal growth and professional opportunities,” Milburn said by e-mail. “In my case, China and its approach to the environment is often discussed and criticized in the West, so it was interesting to find what seemed like accepted Western thinking regarding China was not a shared perspective by most of the local students in my classes.”
Yarabinec said when students come to the OIP, the first thing coordinators look at is the student’s major, then they look for a program that best fit their studies and career plans. Yarabinec emphasized that Hong Kong has a great business program, one more fact that adds to Asia being a great location to study abroad.
Adam Douglas, a Japanese major at SF State who is now studying in Oita, Japan said that along with his Japanese classes he takes classes about the country’s history and cultural background–-all in English. Still, his main reason to study abroad, he said, was to learn the language so he can work as a subtitles translator for Japanese movies.
“The hardest part was that I thought my Japanese was pretty good,” Douglas said, who had already visited the country twice.
According to Flores, students have less of a cultural shock when they go to Asia than most people would think they would.
“Not until I came back to the U.S. did I experience any cultural shock,” said Luciana Huang in an e-mail. Huang was an interior design major, but after her experience in Beijing she switched her major to Asian American Studies. “Adapting to the Chinese environment is relatively easy, but it is very fast-paced.”
Huang said she chose to study in China to be near the excitement of the preparations for the 2008 Olympics. Huang said she could already speak French and wanted to improve her Chinese. Along with 20 hours of Chinese language classes, she said students could also take classes on culture, calligraphy, flower painting, erhu (Chinese fiddle) and martial arts.
“I have a better sense of the world and what my personal and career goals are now,” Huang said by e-mail. “I am far more determined than I’ve ever been and I’ve also developed valued friendships and I know that I have someone to call up in any state or country I may some day decide to visit.”
Douglas said that studying abroad was part of his plans since he applied to SF State. He added that one of the main reasons he chose SF State was because he knew about the low-cost study abroad programs offered here.
Yarabinec explained that they have a number of scholarships available to students, and that SF State is well known for helping lower-income students to study abroad.
“I have a student in Japan who is making money,” Yarabinec said.
According to David Wick, coordinator of Study Abroad Services, there is a lot of funding available for students who choose to go to Asia. Due to the lower demand in comparison to other programs, those fundings are obtained easier.
He also added that every student who went to Taiwan this year had a scholarship-- all due to the lower demand in comparison to other scholarships. And that SF State has ranked second in the nation in receiving the most Benjamin A. Gilman scholarships. The Gilman scholarship is available for undergraduates with high financial needs.
“The campus would like to see all students study abroad early in their education,” Wick said.
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