CSU students gain global perspective while studying abroad

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Last January, Dawn Noyes bid “au revoir” to family and friends in the United States as she embarked on five months of travel, adventure and studying in Vichy, France as part of CSU’s Study Abroad program.

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Noyes, a marketing major who graduated last month, had her eyes set on studying in France since she was a freshman in high school. She worked two to three jobs at a time over a period of seven years to have enough money to be able to travel and study in Europe.

The hard work paid off and Noyes attended Université Blaise Pascal in an international business with french program and visited 10 countries during those five months.

Noyes was one of 738 students from CSU who studied abroad for credit during the 2011-2012 school year. An additional 407 CSU students participated in international field experiences for non-credit.

Nationwide, 273,996 students studied abroad during the during the 2010-2011 school year according to the Institute of International Education.

Her favorite memories were of meeting other student travelers in youth hostels throughout Europe and forming friendships on the spot.

“I could connect with people on a deeper level I met in one night than with people back home,” Noyes said. “They just have the same goals as you do. Sometimes you form lifelong friendships with someone you met one night in a hostel.”

Chris Churma, a study abroad coordinator for CSU, said CSU has 25 universities across the globe that are exchange partners.

Although it’s easier and often more affordable for a student to enroll in one of those partner universities, Churma said the CSU study abroad department will work with students who want to enroll in universities outside their network.

Any schools not in the network are vetted, meaning their safety, health and transfer credits are looked at closely.

“We want to make sure it’s a good fit for the student,” Churma said.

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Spending three months in the town of Seville in southern Spain was a once in a lifetime experience for junior business administration major McKenna Botts.

Botts took three international business classes and one Spanish class at Menéndez Pelayo International University from September through December last year.

Like Noyes, she travelled to multiple countries in Europe and also spent time in Morocco, a country she described as having a feeling of lawlessness and poverty that she wasn’t expecting to encounter.

“We’d get to the hotel rooms and they’d be like, ‘We strongly suggest not leaving the hotel rooms or walk around at night if you’re a female,’” Botts said.

Living with a widow and spending time with the widow’s four children in Seville, Botts said she had an opportunity to fully immerse herself in the culture. One of the bigger differences between the United States and southern Spain was the pace of everyday life, which she described as slower and more relaxed.

Every day she would leave school to eat a late lunch at home and everyone in the town would have a “siesta,” or afternoon nap, while she went back to school.

“Seville was on a whole different time,” Botts said. “They will sit down at coffee shops for, like, four hours and not even care. They’re so laid back.”

Churma, Botts and Noyes all agreed that studying abroad is a lot more affordable than people realize. With scholarships, financial aid and a little bit of travel savvy, a student can potentially go overseas for about the same cost as a semester at CSU.

“I worked all summer before saving money and you can always work later in life,” Botts said about expenses while overseas. “But for me it was like, ‘When are you gonna be in Europe when you’re 21, travelling?’”

Senior Reporter Austin Briggs can be reached at news@collegian.com.