Oct 15, 2019
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Fresno State students writing down their emails to receive more information on studying abroad and the opportunities provided at the Study Abroad Fair event on Oct. 4, 2016. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)

Step into a new culture: program provides students access to study abroad

The University Student Union balcony was crowded with hopeful explorers Tuesday afternoon as they played international landmark trivia and visited information booths telling them how to get involved in international studies.

The Study Abroad Fair, hosted by the Fresno State International Student Services and Programs office, featured several study abroad agencies and experienced student travelers.

Somesh Betala, a student from India, came to Fresno State to get his PhD in civil engineering. Betala said he always wanted to explore and study.

“It was my dream from childhood to come study abroad and learn engineering,” Betala said. “My main motive was to get into the U.S. and stay here.”

Betala said studying abroad comes with a lot of expenses. The fair had a scholarship booth that explained all of the ways Fresno State can help students afford studying abroad.

“Some people take loans or scholarships and some people finance themselves,” Betala said. He said for him, Fresno was his best option. “It’s pretty cool that Fresno State is the cheapest place to travel abroad to in the U.S.”

Betala said the things he has learned are the most valuable.

“Students can explore knowledge and express their thoughts with professors and that’s the coolest,” Betala said.

Students like Betala got involved with studying abroad by signing up for a class through their school or a study abroad agency. One of the agencies featured at the fair was the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE).

“We are a non-profit study abroad agency,” said Fruhar Safa, a campus coordinator for CIEE. “Our role is to really advocate for international studies because not everybody knows about study abroad and all of the opportunities that it offers.”

Part of Safa’s job as a campus coordinator is to explain to students why studying abroad is so beneficial.

“It’s a great way to experience independence and to learn about your strengths and weaknesses as an individual,” Safa said. “Its also a great way to build connections and networking”.

Reflecting on her personal experiences studying abroad, Safa said she learned more than what was taught in the classroom.

Safa said, “When you study abroad, you think you’re going to learn so much about other cultures, and you do, but you learn a lot more about yourself.”

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