abroad increases 29 percent
Some students are inspired by Sept. 11 to learn, teach about other cultures, nations
SAN FRANCISCO, August 20, 2002 -- A total of 143 San Francisco State University students -- eager to explore different cultures and teach the world about the United States -- will study overseas this year. This represents a 29 percent increase for SFSU students participating in study-abroad programs over last year, when 111 students packed their bags for foreign countries.
SFSU consistently ranks among the highest of the 23 campuses in the California State University system for students studying overseas.
"More students are choosing to enrich their educational experiences by studying abroad," said My Yarabinec, SFSU coordinator for study abroad and international exchange programs. "What has surprised us is that some students are choosing to study overseas because of Sept. 11, not in spite of it."
Students are able to study overseas through two state-supported programs, the SFSU Bilateral Exchanges and CSU International Programs. The SFSU Bilateral Exchanges program, which allows students to study abroad for one semester or more, has seen a 57 percent increase in students from 2001-02 and reached an all-time high of 55 students. SFSU students participating in the CSU International Programs, the official overseas study program of the statewide system, has registered a 16 percent increase from 2001-02 with more students than any other CSU campus.
Through both programs, students pay the same tuitions and fees as if they were attending SFSU. They are not charged overseas tuition, administrative costs or other fees.
Some students were inspired by the terrorist attacks to learn about other cultures and nations and, in turn, increase understanding of American cultures. Psychology and business major Jamyra Williams, who studied last year at Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires, Argentina, discovered that many people in foreign countries have an inaccurate view of America, particularly after Sept. 11.
"I was able to expose people to what America is actually like, as opposed to what they see on television," said Williams, 24, a senior who will study at UniversitÓ degli Studi di Pavia in Italy this year. "I also learned so much about other cultures and systems of learning, in addition to learning to speak Spanish. Studying abroad has been incredibly valuable to me."
The top countries attracting students this year are: the United Kingdom (23 students), France (22), Holland/Belgium (21), Italy (14) and Spain (13). This is similar to the traditional pattern, Yarabinec said, as students are often attracted to highly competitive, prestigious academic programs throughout Europe.
Due to heightened concern for the safety of American students in foreign countries, Yarabinec placed extra focus on security and safety during study-abroad orientation sessions held in May. For the first time in more than 10 years, students were advised extensively on terrorism and given additional tips advice on behavior and attire.
"Now, more than ever it is critical that we advise our students extensively to ensure they will be safe and feel safe when they are studying abroad," he said. "In turn, we are very prudent in ensuring that our member institutions overseas are taking good care of our students and ensuring their safety."
CSU study-abroad programs to Israel and Zimbabwe have been suspended for 2002-03 due to the civil unrest in those countries.
The CSU International Programs enable hundreds of students to pursue their studies abroad each year at 33 affiliated universities in 17 countries. The SFSU Bilateral Exchanges program allows students to earn credit toward their degrees while studying at one of 24 associate universities in 14 countries. For more information on study-abroad programs, visit: www.sfsu.edu/~studyabr.
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