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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Exploring Other Cultures Through Study Abroad

    The thrill of globe trekking around the world as an undergraduate student can be a fulfilling experience that teaches the differences of cultures, languages, and lifestyles that are different from our own.

    “The thought of exploring another country through excursions, different types of food, culture, and people always captivated my interest,” said Christine Lee, a senior at Stony Brook University, who visited Tanzania before deciding upon her major. “Before deciding on Tanzania, I almost went through another program after reviewing other study abroad options, but I decided not to due to a sudden change of plans. The next year, I declared Anthropology as my major.”

    Lee said that she was more excited to go to Tanzania because she had academic drive to go on the trip. “While the excursions to Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti remain as the highlights of the trip, I really enjoyed the overall experiences throughout my journey in Tanzania,” she said. “Playing soccer with the local school girls,exploring the city of Arusha by ourselves,and playing with the children from local orphanages.Throughout the trip, I took comfort in feeling more like a visitor in a novel country than a common tourist.”

    Stony Brook University offers a variety of study abroad programs for a short-term program in summer or winter, or a long-term international exchange program that can extend over a semester or academic year.

    These programs offer course credits in a foreign environment and also excursions to different landmarks and historic sites that are incorporated with the learning experience. “Besides a beginner’s knowledge of Swahili, I’ve learned to be happy and be free,” said Lee. “While we stayed at various locations around the northern part of Tanzania, our motto became “be free.” I came across many local residents who never failed to be charming and content with their lives.”

    There are similar programs including a summer or fall stay in Madagascar, where students are able to learn about nature conservation and research. “Students live near the rainforest and live in tents,” said Jennifer Green, an international study abroad advisor at Stony Brook University. She said that the Madagascar program appeals to students because of its remote location and proximity to endangered animals.

    Another popular program, the summer session in Italy, is celebrating its 30th anniversary. “This program is run by a Stony Brook professor who is from Italy and knows the language, so he is very passionate about the way he instructs his students,” she said. Green said it runs for four weeks, visits museums,and cultural sites in cities like Naples, Capri, Pompeii, Venice and others. In summer, students can get academic credit from the prestigious St. Anthony’s College at Oxford University in England. This program uses field trips in Oxford and London where students visit the Oxford City Council and see important political and social institutions. Some of the trips include one to the Oxford Museum of Natural History, Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology and others that focus on ecology and science.

    Many of these study abroad options are considered more beneficial for students to take advantage early in their college career. “We want the students to go away in their first two years rather than wait until they declare a major because when they declare a major it gets very difficult to go away,” said William Arens, Ph. D., Dean of International Academic Programs. “If they can’t take these courses in their junior year then they can’t take these courses in their senior year and they can’t graduate.”

    The professor of Anthropology explained that students can take all their graduation required courses abroad their first two years of college rather than later, when they have to take courses geared to their major.

    Dean Aren’s takes about 25 students to Tanzania in East Africa every summer. “We try to look for the best universities there are for our students,” he said. “Students are interested in Tanzania for the sake of conservation, to see animals, to see parks, and people.”

    According to Green, studying abroad is as popular as ever before. “Nationally, Stony Brook is an affordable place to study abroad from, and students who are not eligible for financial aid get pretty decent interest rates on federal loans,” she said. “Even with the current economic situation, the study abroad office was not anticipating a dramatic decrease in students applying for these programs.” “Living in Tanzania for a month will change the way you see the entire world. You will be enlightened for years even after the trip once you come home,it just will never leave you. You will gain life experience at it’s best,” said Kathryn Saganic, another student who went to Tanzania with Arens. “When I went I was bio-premed, and now I am an anthropology major. I had always loved anthropology, but didn’t think it could ever take me too far. Now I am going with my heart.”

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