By Elizabeth Adams
Imagine if you could spend a semester passing the Eiffel Tower, on your way to grab a delightful cappuccino at Castel Café and finish off that term paper on art history to wrap up your general education courses. For California State University, Dominguez Hills students, they could be studying anywhere in the world and still be taking courses that count towards getting credit for their degree.
However, many of us will continue to commute to school four days a week, spending a good fraction of our lives stuck in traffic on the freeway and spending countless additional hours swerving through the parking lots trying to find a place to park before classes end.
CSUDH has a study abroad office for a variety of majors with several options, ranging from spending a summer in another country, or up to a year. However, according to the study abroad office, approximately 13 CSUDH students took part in the California State University International Programs in the 2016-2017 academic year.
Our campus is not alone, as the lack of international studies seems to be a nationwide trend.
According to the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers’ Association of International Educators, only 1.6 percent of U.S. students enrolled in institutions of higher education studied abroad during the 2015-2016 academic year.
Here are some possible reasons students on our campus may not be studying abroad:
Lack of involvement from the study abroad office: The study abroad office does host informational meetings and hold one-on-one meetings for those interested, but one student said she wished the office could be more proactive.
“I went to the study abroad office to inquire about [studying abroad], but from that point on I was on my own because there were a lot of inconsistencies and no follow-ups coming from that office,” said Lauren Walker, communications major, who spent fall, 2017 studying in Reggio Emilia, Italy.
Cost: While some programs are equal or slightly less than the cost of current tuition, many fees are not included; like flight, food and everyday expenses. Rose Muy-Sanchez, a communications and theater major, said she wouldn’t have been able to spend a year studying in the United Kingdom if she didn’t receive the Gilman Scholarship.
Cultural barriers: Not only would you be adapting to a new way of living, there is a chance you’ll have to learn a new language too. While some programs offer courses in English, others require you take an introductory course in the country’s native language.
Course limitations: The programs do offer a vast amount of courses to choose from, but there are some limitations. What you may be studying may not be taught at the school in the country you want to travel to. Also, some of the coursework in the semester-long University Studies Abroad Consortium programs seem to be ideal for those in their freshman or sophomore year, who are just diving into the basics of their major.
Now that you know what you’re up against, the world is out there, so don’t let these things stop you.
“It depends on how you make your experience,” Muy-Sanchez said. “But, it’s not going to end up being something you wished you didn’t do.”