Now is the time for Fresno State students to seize that rare opportunity to travel and see the world.
There are several programs and dozens of countries open to students who wish to study abroad, but there are also many factors to consider before they commit to one.
The International Programs Department on campus hosts international semesters to 25 different countries in the summer as well as in the regular academic year. According to Director Robert Hudgens, Ph. D., the department made it possible for 260 students to study abroad last year.
The arts and humanities department hosts a semester in London, while the International Business Programs hosts a semester in various countries across Europe.
â€œThereâ€™s only 100 days and 100 million things to do,â€ said Priscilla Villanueva, a junior who participated in the London semester program.
For students who wish to travel but donâ€™t already have a country in mind, the first choice is to decide which part of the world they are most interested in. Hudgens said the appeal of a particular country has a lot to do with personal background.
â€œOthers go because they have a family connection,â€ Hudgen said.
Language is another factor involved in the decision. Even students who are not pursuing linguistics degrees find that visiting a foreign country is the best way to learn how to speak the native tongue.
â€œIf you make an effort to know the native language, usually you get treated more politely,â€ said Chris Henson, director of the London Semester Abroad program.
Hudgens added that many students opt for Europe because the countries there are small and close together. Many donâ€™t require visas to cross borders.
Senior James Reyes appreciated the fact that he could experience so much of Europeâ€™s culture in a matter of weeks due to the close proximity of the countries.
â€œA flight from Rome to London is like taking a flight from Fresno to Washington,â€ Reyes said, who spent two semesters studying art history in Florence, Italy.
One of the first obstacles to studying abroad is money.
However, the cost of tuition is comparable to a semester at home.
Besides tuition, the fees students pay up front also cover health insurance, field trips, orientations and whatever entrance charges are required to access museums or other tourist attractions.
â€œYour programs cover [field trips] so if you donâ€™t go, youâ€™re not getting your full moneyâ€™s worth,â€ Henson said.
Costs that are not covered in the flat fee are airfare, meals, housing and other necessities such as cell phones and textbooks. Airfare is cheaper the closer the country is to the United States, with Mexico being the lowest at around $600 to $800. Expenses fluctuate daily, and the exchange rate should be checked before settling on the final cost.
Hudgens warned that prices were not at all similar across the globe.
â€œThe cost of living in Tokyo is pretty expensive. Mexico is cheaper,â€ Hudgens said.
Fortunately, students can reduce their out-of-pocket expenses by applying for scholarships, grants and loans as long as they leave adequate time for processing. In addition, parents can support them financially in their travels.
While it is not required, most students bring belongings from home they find to be essential.
Carla Millar, assistant dean of the arts and humanities department, urged students to bring laptops because it is difficult to say if students will have access to a computer when they need it.
Sometimes, it is the small things that count. Students from last year brought food from home that could not be found in other countries.
Another thing for students to consider is what they will do with their education while studying abroad.
The London Semester is mostly aimed as the study of English culture and history. A variety of field trips to historical sites and art galleries give them a sense of the English tradition that is invariably more real than pictures in a textbook.
â€œPut in your reservations early,â€ Reyes said as a piece of advice.
Reyes was not able to view Leonardo DaVinciâ€™s â€œThe Last Supperâ€ due to the fact that all the showings were booked months in advance.
Students participating in such programs are encouraged to take part in class field trips and other activities, but many of them found their own way around, bonding with fellow classmates in the process.
â€œGo in there with an open mind,â€ Reyes said. â€œI went to [Florence] very sheltered but I eventually opened up.â€
Study abroad programs
The deadline to apply for the International Business Program was on Oct. 15. However, some programsâ€™ deadlines for next year can still be met.
â€¢ Nov. 1 is the application deadline for the Florence, Italy program, which starts in summer 2008. Contact International Programs coordinator Robert Hudgens, 278-6452, for an application or for more information.
â€¢ Dec. 1 is the application deadline for London Semester. An informational meeting will be held Nov. 18 at 4 p.m. in room 140 of the Kremen Education building. London Semester goes from Jan. 3 to Apr. 12, 2008. To pick up an application, or for more information, contact program director Carla Millar at 278-6452.