Studying abroad: the information you need

The study abroad fair on Oct. 7 featured booths for all of the study abroad options available to students. Sarah Parr - Mustang Daily

Dozens packed onto Dexter Lawn for the annual Study Abroad Fair on Oct. 7, which featured several booths providing information on the study abroad, volunteer, scholarship and internship opportunities that Cal Poly offers.

Faculty-led Programs

Cal Poly has four faculty-led study abroad programs with Proworld that take place during almost every quarter. A prospective candidate for the program may choose to go to London or Peru during the summer, Thailand during the spring and Australia during the winter.

Industrial engineering junior Riley Elliott studied abroad in Cuzco, Peru this past summer.

At first, Elliott “experienced a little bit of culture-shock,” but it only lasted a few days.

“It was a completely different world,” Elliott said.

Depending on the location, students have the option of staying with a host family or in campus housing, which may be dormitory or apartment-styled.

In each of these locations, a student has the ability to earn direct transferable Cal Poly credit for general education courses taught by Cal Poly professors.

All of the faculty-led programs also feature excursions to scenic, relevant cultural or historical sites.

Elliott stayed with a Peruvian family in what is known as a homestay — the option to live and dine with a native host family.

On one of his excursions, Elliott ventured to the Amazon rainforest in Peru and stayed in an “eco-lodge,” or a 100 percent sustainable lodge that was run by the local tribe. Elliott saw wild monkeys and caught a piranha during his trip. He fed it a leaf to watch its teeth in action, but he ultimately let it go.

Besides the cultural excursions students go on during their study abroad experience, many of the general education courses offered often incorporate the culture and history of the location abroad.

English professor Dustin Stegner taught a Shakespeare course in London, so he took his Shakespeare class to the Shakespeare-associated Globe Theatre, he said.

All excursions are included in the faculty-led program packages, unless it is an optional trip. Program fees vary depending on the location of choice. The London Study and Australia Study programs tend to be the highest costing and the Peru Study program tends to be the cheapest. All programs charge Cal Poly registration fees.

International Programs (IP)

With the IP program through the California State University (CSU) system, architecture senior Adriana Servin was able to experience historical architecture firsthand in Florence, Italy.

Studying architecture history in Florence added another dimension to Servin’s studies, since the Italian city is regarded as architecturally significant.

“It was really cool being able to see everything in person,” Servin said.

Servin immersed herself in Italian architecture for an entire year in 2009. Students have the option of staying in an IP program for a term or the whole year. Servin said she benefited from the option of a year-long program.

Servin has friends who have studied abroad as well; yet, some of them chose to only study abroad for a semester. They didn’t have the same chance to learn the language as well or even travel as much she did, she said.

Like the faculty-led programs, the IP programs allow CSU students to gain transferable general education and major courses. Servin was able to stay on track to graduate while in Florence.

IP programs can take students anywhere in the world — Asia, Europe, South America or Australia — for almost the same amount it costs to attend a CSU. Factors like the current exchange rate may affect the total estimated cost, though.

National Student Exchange (NSE) and Cal Poly International Exchange Program (IEP)

For those students who are unsure of whether or not they could handle living in a different country for an academic term, the option of studying “abroad” at a different university in United States or Canada territory is possible through the NSE program.

Kristi Sabo, a recreation management senior at Ferris State University, Michigan, is currently staying at Cal Poly through the NSE program for the year.

Sabo recommends both studying abroad overseas and at a different university with the NSE program.

“I would recommend NSE as a stepping stone to studying abroad (in a different country),” Sabo said.

As most of the university exchanges offer the same tuition and fees as the home university, “it is an inexpensive way to experience a different culture,” Sabo said.

Similar to the NSE program, except with exchanges of students in many different countries, Cal Poly’s International Exchange Program (IEP) allows students to pay only Cal Poly fees and receive financial aid as an exchange student in a foreign country.

Many colleges and departments have exchange agreements with universities all over the world, including some in Brazil, Germany, India or Finland.

Affiliated programs

There are options to travel to over 30 countries with affiliated programs. An affiliated program may offer courses that complement or expand a student’s major or minor.

One such program, AustraLearn, allows students to study subjects pertaining to their major or minor in Australia, New Zealand or Fiji. Another, the University Studies Abroad Consortium, has major programs in less demanded, less of a tourist destination, such as Puntarenas, Costa Rica, or Pau, France.

Affiliated programs still allow students to retain their federal financial aid, but students have to pay the affiliated program’s fees instead of Cal Poly fees.

To study abroad with an affiliated program, a student must have at least a 2.5 GPA (but some academic programs may require a higher GPA) and must have a sophomore standing.

Peace Corps and AISEC

For people who’d rather volunteer instead of study abroad, the Peace Corps offer programs in over 77 countries.

The programs last 27 months and volunteers live with a particular community and provide “technical assistance in six program areas: education, youth and community development, health, business and information and communications technology, agriculture, and environment,” according to the Peace Corps website.

Peace Corps volunteers usually have a decent combination of job experience and education, but a four-year college degree isn’t required for each program. Volunteers also receive an allowance during their term.

Although a prospective Peace Corps volunteer may choose their ideal destination, their country of choice isn’t guaranteed.

Besides volunteering and studying abroad, the option of interning abroad is also available for students who want to become involved in the fields of management, technology, education or development.

AISEC is a student-run organization that allows students to become involved in international leadership by providing internships in over 100 countries.

No matter the activity, whether it be taking classes, volunteering or interning, Cal Poly students have the opportunity to have a global experience during their stay.