The international experience at Cleveland State

By Claudia Ugbana

The Center for International Services and Programs (CISP) at Cleveland State University provides services to international and domestic students through programs such as the Education Abroad Program. The center held the 22nd annual Education Abroad Opportunities Fair on Sept. 19 to help prospective students to learn about work, study and volunteer options abroad.

Julie Good, manager of education abroad at CISP, shared she was pleased by the turnout, with over 250 students in attendance and an additional 10 student volunteers who provided help and logistical support. 

“The 22nd Annual Fair was our best fair ever,” Good said. “All participating study abroad programs present at the fair were very pleased with the turnout and the number of questions and interesting conversations they had with students and faculty.” 

They received a lot of positive feedback about the DJ, Kris Koch, who played a wide variety of international music throughout the day. They also gave out over 150 bags of free popcorn and offered free henna tattoos to over 50 students, Good shared.

Tiffani Fields, graduate assistant for, CISP, shared information on how interested students could begin the process to study or intern abroad. 

“The study abroad program gives students the opportunity to use their financial aid, grants or loans they receive from CSU to take with them when they go to study abroad,” she said.

Cleveland State offers three basic study abroad programs to students: Faculty-led Programs Abroad (FLPA) ranging from eight days to four weeks, Reciprocal Exchange, occurring during the spring or fall semester, or a combination of both and Affiliate Programs, which can be during any term. 

 The faculty-led program is typically major-based, and students embark on the experience with their fellow students, with Cleveland State professors teaching those students abroad, Fields shared. The center also helps facilitate students who pursue a more direct enrollment opportunity, if students have specific universities which they would like to attend.

The center has partnered with five universities abroad for the Reciprocal Exchange Program where students can study at those universities while paying Cleveland State’s tuition and fees. A  requirement for students to be able to participate in this program is knowing a language, because the entire curriculum is taught in those foreign languages, according to Fields.

The more common program, however would be the Affiliate Program, according to Fields. The Education Abroad Fair consisted mostly of program providers affiliated with the university, who had pre-packaged programs for students that include cost of tuition, room and board, the cost of flights and expenses related information for students. 

“These Affiliate Programs are really popular for students because most of them are unable to commit to a full academic semester or year, and these programs are able to make room over winter or summer break for however long students are able to go for,” Fields mentioned.

According to Fields, through the Affiliate Program alone, the center sends about 20 to 30 students abroad and 15 to 20 students through the Faculty-led Program, per semester. However  a lot of students and faculty/staff at Cleveland State are still often confused about the Education Abroad Program’s role at CISP.

“We’re really trying to work on that because it is a really big job we have here,” Fields said.

She spoke candidly about her own study abroad experience which occurred when she was an undergraduate student at the university.

“I think a lot of students assume because they’re going out of the country it’s going to be expensive, but that’s not always the case,” she said. “For me personally, studying abroad changed my whole life, and I realize it sounds so cliche.”

Fields studied abroad in France through the Faculty-led Program, and it was her first time out of the country. It spearheaded a variety of other traveling Fields embarked on once she returned from France.

Her travel abroad experience provided her with a strong relationship she holds with Good, which later led to Good offering her the graduate assistant position. 

“I just want students to see that it’s not impossible and the sky’s the limit,” Fields said.

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Students share their experiences with studying abroad

 

Gwendolyn Kochur – class of 2019, journalism major

As Cleveland State alumna, Kochur spoke candidly about her experience interning abroad while attending CSU.

“I worked with an affiliated program while I interned in Scotland in the summer of 2018,” she shared. “Julie [Good] was really helpful in preparing me for my trip, and she really helped me jump through hoops such as alerting the embassy and budgeting.”

Kochur was able to earn credits through her internship in Scotland and she received two scholarships which were able to fund her trip. She was awarded one scholarship through the Center for International Services and Programs and the other through the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

During her time in Scotland, Kochur heavily traveled and explored neighboring cities. She shared that the experience allowed her to become more independent outside of her comfort zone and opened her mind up to different people and cultures.

“It was just as life changing as people say it is,” Kochur said, “It was well worth it and I would do it a million times over.”

 

Katheryn Lewis – Senior, English Major

“I went to Seoul, South Korea and had an incredible time,” Lewis stated. “Although, I found that I didn’t really like the school I went to for a variety of reasons. Obviously, with a foreign school, they’re going to do things differently, and it was such a big change for me.”

Lewis shared that dealing with the new culture around her was a different experience for her, one she found incredibly amazing.

“It does help to know the language to make it easier to move around, but you can just go and speak English and you will be perfectly fine, unlike [what] most people think,” she said.

Lewis dreamt about visiting Seoul for six years and even did her own research on the culture and people to prepare her for the experience.

Good was extremely transparent in terms of costs, and Lewis was encouraged to do further research into scholarship opportunities. “As a student, you have to come prepared and know what you’re getting into. You have to do your research when you go through CSU,” Lewis said.

 

Christian Sorige – Senior, international relations major

Sorige studied at The University of Copenhagen in Denmark and took a month-long summer course in A Coruña, Spain.

“Both of these experiences gave me the opportunity to develop as an individual and learn about different ways of life,” Sorige shared. “I have a very global view of humanity, and I attribute that to my time spent traveling abroad and experiencing other cultures, languages, social structures and ways of thinking. Studying abroad has been nothing but a positive in my life.”

Sorige encourages students to take the chance to study abroad. 

“The drinking age in most of Europe is 18 or under if that helps motivate anyone,” he said.

 

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