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Studying abroad offers the world to students

Fresno State gives students the opportunity to travel around the world, visit historic landmarks and make everlasting memories by studying abroad.

The university offers study-abroad programs in at least 30 countries, from more traditional countries such as the United Kingdom, South Korea and Italy to the less traditional such as Panama, Trinidad, Tobago and Ghana.

“There are many reasons students should consider study abroad,” said Kathryn Morrissey, the coordinator of study abroad. “It’s a great way to learn about yourself and your culture while at the same time learning about another culture and way of doing things.”

Morrissey said traveling abroad is a fun and new way for students to learn academics.

“For example, studying art history in Florence, Italy, the birthplace of the Renaissance or studying agriculture in Australia and seeing what they have done to combat the severe droughts that they face down there,” she said.

She continued to say that study abroad looks great on resumes as it shows you can work with people from different cultures and backgrounds.

“It helps you learn a lot of the soft skills that employers are looking for: communication skills, adapting to a new environment, confidence and independence,” Morrissey added.

In order to study abroad students have to be a second semester freshman or higher and have a 2.0 GPA. First semester freshmen cannot study abroad. Morrissey said some study-abroad trips are only for juniors or seniors and certain programs require a 3.0 or higher GPA.

Over the summer of spring 2016, the department of recreation administration is offering a two-week study-abroad course in the diverse landscape of Costa Rica. Its duration is from May 26 through June 9.

In that two weeks, students will participate in a variety of recreational activities such as: zip-lining, snorkeling, surfing in the Caribbean and a two-day whitewater rafting trip.

Jason Whiting, an assistant professor in the department of recreation and administration said the purpose of this trip is to learn about the different cultures and international tourism.

The three-unit international tourism class fulfills the upper division multicultural general education requirement. Anyone can go on this trip. A valid passport is required.

“We teach by experiential learning,” Whiting said. “Meaning, students learn a lot by the way of experiencing things. It’s very unique that we don’t sit in classrooms that much. We’ll go out and learn on the beach, or as we’re hiking, we’ll have discussions.”

He added that at the end of the day students get to journal about their experiences and the things they’ve learned.

“It’s very much an experiential learning model,” he said. “They are able to experience something, reflect on it and make connections with other parts of their lives in doing so.”

Whiting said since this trip is unique in that they will do a lot of high adventure outdoor recreation activities, because of that, students who plan on going need to be in good physical condition.

“What I mean by that is, you need to be able to walk four or more miles because we do a lot of hiking and seeing waterfalls and wildlife and things like that,” he added.

Theatre arts major Candace Cano traveled to London in the winter session of 2011 through 2012.

“The class was called ‘Tea and Torture’ and it focused on the beginnings and formation of the entertainment world in London,” Cano said.

What sparked Cano’s interest in traveling abroad was traveling to London, a place where she longed to visit.

London is somewhere that was already on my bucket list to visit,” she said.

“And it sounded like an amazing way to explore for an extended period of time and the class assured my parents I would be safe. Also, the paper I wrote from my experiences and research there satisfied the upper division writing requirement.”

Cano said she would absolutely recommend students to travel abroad. “It’s a prearranged, it’s a safer way to travel and you get college credit,” she said. “I also had colleagues and friends to explore with so that I didn’t have to travel alone when we weren’t in class sessions.”

The study abroad and international exchanges office is in the Family Food and Sciences Building Room 119.

“Right now, Fresno State is doing some really great things, but they can be hard for a student to understand. I am here to help that,” Morrissey said. “Students should at least come in and see what we have to offer.”