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Pack your bags, see the world: students go global

November 23, 2004

Study abroad student Jessamyn Pattison at the Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiori in Florence, ItalyThis year, 210 SFSU students are calling countries around the world their home, from Argentina to Taiwan, spending up to a year studying abroad.

Students who love to travel and want to gain an international perspective are able to study abroad through two state-supported programs, the SFSU Bilateral Program and CSU International Programs.

Through each, students pay the same tuition and fees they would pay if they were studying at SFSU. No overseas tuition or administrative costs are added. All campus financial aid, except work study, is applicable abroad. A year abroad may cost less than what students are paying at home because of lower living costs in other countries.

Still, for a campus of almost 29,000 students, not that many choose to study abroad.

"My worry is that many students have misconceptions about studying abroad. The reality is studying abroad is a viable option because it's affordable, aids their academic progress and there are programs available for almost all majors," said My Yarabinec, coordinator of the Study Abroad and International Exchange Programs.

To help spread the word, SFSU's Office of International Programs conducts workshops four times a week, holds information meetings and provides assistance with scholarship applications.

"For the past three years, we almost doubled the number of scholarships that our students receive every year," Yarabinec said.

This year alone, SFSU students have received two Fulbrights, three scholarships from the French government's Ministry of Education worth $12,000 per annum, four Freeman Asia Awards for $7,000 for study in Asia, two $14,000 scholarships from the Japanese government and one $6,000 scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Students return to the United States having learned more about themselves and the world.

"I am a totally different person from the one who went to study abroad, a better one," said Jessamyn Pattison, who studied in the CSU Study Center in Florence, Italy, and the Florence Academy of Fine Arts. "I learned to travel, to adapt to different situations and to speak Italian!"

SFSU ranks seventh nationwide among master's degree institutions for the number of students studying abroad, according to the most recent data released by the Institute of International Education. In addition, SFSU ranks third among the 23 campuses in the California State University system for students studying abroad.

"It's important to have students who enrich themselves with an international experience because these students will be the bridge generation between America and the outside world," Yarabinec said. "In this rapidly shrinking, global society, students who understand other perspectives, cultures and languages have an edge over their competition."

There are 106 SFSU students participating in the CSU International Programs, the official overseas study program of the statewide system, in 2004-05. The CSU International Programs is affiliated with 50 universities in 18 countries. The SFSU Bilateral Program, which allows students to study abroad for one semester or more, has 104 participants in 2004-05. This program allows students to earn credit toward their degrees while studying at one of 29 associated universities in 14 countries.

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

-- Student Writer Audrey Tang with Matt Itelson


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Last modified November 23, 2004 by University Communications