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Saturday, January 29, 2022

“It opens you to a world of possibilities”: Study abroad resumes for students this fall

Study abroad is back in motion, giving students the opportunity to learn and explore in a whole new environment once again.

According to the university’s Vice President for International Programs and Senior International Officer Cary Vanderkar, there are approximately 150 students abroad this fall. Vanderkar said they are Delighted to be able to relaunch programs abroad.

“We have received reports from partners abroad as well as communications from students that they are doing well in their courses, outreach to their communities and of course navigating the pandemic abroad,” Vanderkar said.

Robert Rochelle, Senior Architect, is a student abroad, who is currently in Switzerland because he did not receive a portion of the study abroad experience that the architecture program offers to students. He said he wants to travel abroad now that the program is back in person.

Rochelle said things are under control in Switzerland when it comes to COVID-19 regulations and if they are followed, students can go to campus without a mask.

“In terms of learning in the classroom, it helps a lot with the interaction with the other students and everything seems more connected,” Rochelle said.

Rochelle said he used to visit his grandparents in Germany often, which allowed him to gain a “completely different perspective on the world.”

“I think it’s important as a young person to broaden your perspective,” Rochelle said. “I can empathize and connect with people from different backgrounds a little more than if I had just stayed in the United States most of my life.”

According to Vanderkar, Prior to COVID-19, Cal Poly sent nearly 1,500 students to study abroad and international trips during the 2018-2019 academic year. In the fall of 2019, there were approximately 800 students abroad.

Vanderkar said that although the number of overseas students of 150 this fall is significantly lower, it is a positive change from the previous six quarters for suspended programs, from Spring 2020 through Summer 2021.

“We hope that our students will continue to participate in opportunities abroad in the coming year and benefit from this high impact, transformation, and learning by practicing part of their undergraduate careers,” Vanderkar said.

Architecture student Lilly Fore is scheduled to travel abroad in the winter and spring semesters in Berlin, Germany. Fore said she was drawn to study abroad because her parents met in Taiwan when they were abroad in graduate school.

“They’ve always told me how great it is to study abroad, so from a young age I wanted this to be something I do,” said Fore. “German architecture is really interesting and that’s why I head there too.”

As an architecture specialist, Fore said she is curious to see what German culture looks like and to feel immersed in a new culture.

“I feel like it would give me a lot of perspective on America,” Fore said. “I am excited to meet new German people with different opinions and to learn from each other.”

Fore said studying abroad is important because it’s easy to live in the “US bubble” because so much is happening in the country.

“It’s good to go out and see how the United States is viewed and know that the way the United States does things is not the only way to do things.” Fore said. “It opens up a world of possibilities and feels like a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Erin Bowers, a sophomore in business administration, started looking into studying abroad in Munich, Germany because she could speak German and wanted to make use of her skills. Powers said she was looking forward to taking some German lessons.

“[Taking classes in German] It will make it more difficult, but it will force me to learn the language better and push me out of my comfort zone, which is something I want to try to do,” Powers said. “We only have one life and I want to be able to experience as many things as possible, and these A great opportunity to do so.”

Powers said the opportunity to study abroad would motivate her because she sees herself moving to a different country when she grows up.

“Gaining that experience and building those networks and knowing people in Germany would place me higher than other Americans who might have the same idea as me,” said Bauer. “It has to do with the opportunities that come with it [studying abroad] I want to take life from the reins and bear what is happening in front of me.”

John Schrueble, a Study Abroad and Aeronautical Engineering Peer Adviser, said he recommends students to study abroad because it’s an opportunity to get out, see the world and try new things, and because it makes a lasting impression on oneself.

“While students are abroad, they will have the opportunity to try new foods, practice communicating in a foreign language and experience cultural differences, sometimes requiring stepping out of their comfort zone,” Schrubel said. “And for this reason, many people, including myself, have returned from studying abroad with more confidence, openness and a new passion for exploring the world.”

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