Letter: A response to the concerns with the study abroad programs

Thanks to Amanda Yousif for opening up an important dialogue with her recent letter “Study abroad programs should be optional, not mandatory.”

As a member of the International Education Committee here on campus, I can say that we heard her concerns and discussed many of the points she made at in our most recent meeting. To Amanda, we want to say that you’re not alone in feeling this way. In fact, we hear these issues pretty frequently.

The fact is, one of the biggest causes of student anxiety regarding study abroad – whether a major requirement or not – comes from not knowing the wide range of options and resources that are out there. Barriers to studying abroad, be they financial or related to other obligations, are very real. It is our hope that with a little guidance and planning, they are surmountable.

As you mentioned in your letter, the global experience and personal development students gain from studying and living abroad is invaluable. When you are immersed in another culture, the world is your classroom and each day is its own new learning experience.

We believe there is an experience out there that can work for you – and almost every student – on this campus. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

The study abroad programs at SDSU vary greatly in both duration and price. Programs can be as long as a year or as short as a week or two. And for students watching their finances, we have programs available for any budget. A seven-week summer program in Istanbul, Turkey including three units of tuition, housing and meals, costs approximately $2,500 and offers hundreds of courses. A three-week summer program in Osnabrück, Germany costs approximately $1,400  including three units of tuition, housing and meals. And programs to Asian countries like Singapore and Korea can be even more cost-effective because many programs include free housing and a living stipend in exchange for completing an internship or tutoring in English.

Scholarships are available for students with financial need or to support students going to specific destinations. Associated Students often awards scholarships of more than $400. Recipients of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship can receive up to $5,000. These are just two examples – there are a lot of possibilities out there.

Our advisors are experts at finding ways for people with other obligations to study abroad. Over the years we’ve found programs to fit the needs of students with spouses and young children, and those who work full-time jobs to support their families. Talk to a study abroad advisor, whether it’s in your school or major, in the College of Extended Studies or at the International Student Center. And, as with anything, planning ahead will serve you well.

We want to make sure all SDSU students – no matter their situation – can have a transformative international experience.

-Michael Klitzing, international communications specialist, Division of Student Affairs

If you are interested in writing a letter to the editor, please email Joe Ciolino at opinion@thedailyaztec.com