Opportunities for Oswego State abroad

As the planet continually becomes more globalized, and as more nations and nationalities are being brought closer together, Oswego State student interest in studying abroad has grown.

The thought of studying abroad is often enticing Oswego State students. Studying overseas at a foreign university allows students to make friends while enhancing their resume for after graduation. Interning abroad has also allowed students to grow their professional qualifications for a business. If a student can show to a hiring company that they have enough confidence to work in a culture completely different from their own, it definitely raises their chance to get hired.

Senior English and global & international studies majors Nadia Misir studied abroad in Shanghai at Shanghai Normal University during the past spring semester. Misir thought she had an idea of what life abroad in a major Chinese city might be like, but she quickly learned that Shanghai wasn’t at all what she expected.

“If I could think of one word, it was surprising. I went there with one set of expectations and when I came back, I’ve experienced something completely different,” Misir said. “I didn’t expect to go to Shanghai and experience a city still evolving, still trying to come to terms with being a city. I also didn’t expect the people I met. A lot of things really surprised me about it.”

After living abroad, Misir felt that she has grown a lot. Living, learning and being away from home has enhanced her sense of independence. She even learned more of the local language than she had first thought.

“Surprisingly, English isn’t as widely spoken as I thought it would be,” Misir said. “Among students our age it is, because they’re learning it. But to order food, to hail a taxicab, even to do business within your hotel, where we were living, we had to use Mandarin.”

The most common reason that Oswego State students decide not to study abroad is because of the fear of overspending on their tuition. Lizette Alvarado, the associate director of Oswego State’s Education Abroad Office helps students to dismiss those fears. Alvarado, who maintains Oswego State’s study abroad programs in Latin America and Spain, said that, with the prospects of financial aid benefits and scholarships, studying overseas is definitely a possibility.

“Usually for students who do receive financial aid, they are able to use that financial aid to go overseas. Also, students who receive scholarships at SUNY Oswego, they’re able to travel with those scholarships as well,” said Alvarado. “If you start early, most of the time there are enough scholarships out there, that you will likely get a scholarship.”

Alvarado said the options for having a financially well-planned study abroad trip range from applying for financial aid and scholarships early, possibly having an on-campus job and creating a fundraiser for your trip. She said that the learning experience in itself is worth the work Oswego State students make to raise the travel funds.

“I think sometimes before a student goes abroad, they’re so concerned about what the expectations are going to be in their host country,” Alvarado said. “They don’t necessarily look within, and once they are abroad they find out that they’ve actually learned more about themselves and their own Americanness than about the country, sometimes, they go to.”

Oswego State senior and criminal justice and psychology double majors, Katie Sullivan, studied abroad in Melbourne, Australia at La Trobe University last spring semester. Sullivan said, as long as an interested student allots enough time to prepare the paperwork and save up to go and study abroad, it’s not difficult.

“The process was easy, it was just a lot of stuff to do. So it’s not time-consuming, but you had to be on top of your game for when everything was due,” said Sullivan. “One mistake I made was not saving up a lot before going.”

She said that organizing yourself and contacting financial aid can make a world of difference. Though Sullivan wishes she had taken more time to save up extra money, she said that this voyage abroad and the people she met has changed her life for the better.

“I had an absolute amazing time, I would go back in a second,” said Sullivan. “I met so many amazing people from not even just Australia, but the United States, Europe, South America. I recommend it to anyone.”

For more information on Oswego State’s 80 programs conducted in 18 countries, contact the Office of International Education and Programs at intled@oswego.edu. The Education Abroad office is located at 100 Sheldon Hall and the deadlines for most spring 2014 program applications is Oct. 15.