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Students promote benefits of studying abroad

November 16, 2005

Photo of student Eric Ziller and a statue of a boar in Munich, GermanyEric Ziller's experience as an exchange student in Germany last year not only exposed him to other cultures, advanced his academic career and enabled him to make friends -- it also brought him closer to his family's German roots.

Now back at SFSU for his senior year, Ziller is one of 15 American and Canadian college students selected by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), based in Germany's national government, to be a young ambassador. In this position, he promotes the benefits of studying in Germany to other students interested in studying abroad.

"My experience in Germany was without a doubt one of the most fulfilling and exciting adventures I've ever undertaken in my life," said Ziller, a double major in German and international business. "I want to keep the feeling alive and give back."

Ziller, a second-generation German American, attended Fachhochschule Reutlingen and Universität Tübingen, in the southwestern region of the country. He said he learned a great deal about import and export management at one of Germany's top-ranked business schools. He learned more than he expected about other European cultures, through new friends and trips to France, Austria and the Scandinavian countries.

The experience reaffirmed Ziller's pride for Germany and its culture. He now plans to attend graduate school there.

"I get so nostalgic when I think of Germany," he said. "Germany, for me, is somewhat home."

As an ambassador, Ziller is charged with organizing at least one event per semester on campus to promote study in Germany. He also collaborates with SFSU's Office of International Programs -- where he works as an alumni assistant -- and other German institutions in the Bay Area to inform peers on educational and research opportunities in Germany.

Ziller is the only California student among the DAAD young ambassadors. Other universities with DAAD ambassadors include Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania and University of British Columbia. Ambassadors were chosen based on their enthusiasm for study in Germany, written and verbal communication skills and faculty recommendations.

Photo of student Frederick Shaw in Norwich, U.K.The Young Ambassadors program, in its inaugural year, is modeled after a similar program run by the British government, in which SFSU also has an ambassador. As one of 63 student ambassadors for the British Council -- the United Kingdom's international organization for educational opportunities and cultural relations -- Frederick Shaw has similar responsibilities as Ziller. Last year the radio and television major attended University of East Anglia, which he said offers one of the few broadcasting programs outside of the United States.

"Study abroad offers students a good opportunity to learn a lot about themselves, the U.S. and different education systems," said Shaw, who plans to work in travel television. "My time overseas changed my life. It helped me become more confident in my abilities to do anything, after being in several countries where I was unfamiliar with the culture."

SFSU students can study abroad -- for the same tuition and fees they pay at SFSU -- through two state-supported programs. CSU International Programs are affiliated with more than 50 universities in 19 countries. The SFSU Bilateral Exchange Program is affiliated with 29 associated universities in 14 countries.

For details on studying abroad, visit SFSU's Study Abroad Web site or stop by the Office of International Programs, in room 450 of the Administration building.

-- Matt Itelson
Photos courtesy of Eric Ziller and Frederick Shaw


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Last modified November 16, 2005 by University Communications