By Ruben Smith, International Student Resource Center
NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University’s International Student Resource Center will share information about studying abroad during an open house from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11 in the Student Union Lobby.
“Seeing how people from another country live, work and study is life changing,” according to Telba Espinoza-Contreras, director of NSU’s International Student Resource Center. “Also, the career opportunities are broadened, language skills are sharpened, new friendships are formed and the student experiences overall personal development.”
NSU has new agreements with Universidad Latina de Costa Rica (https://www.ulatina.ac.cr/0, Universidad de Mendoza, Argentina, (http://www.um.edu.ar/es/) and Kanagawa University, Japan. Kanagawa University, (https://www.kanagawau.ac.jp/english/, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcgvCP5Ajiw&feature=youtu.be), which has campuses in Yokohama and Shonan, also offers a stipend to international students who come from a partner university. Universidad Latina de Costa Rica and Kanagawa also offer summer programs. All three universities offer classes in English, and the exchange opportunity is open to all majors.
Espinoza-Contreras and her assistant Vivian Pedroza both say now is the best time to study abroad.
“Don’t wait until later. Life gets busy once you graduate and start your professional life,” Espinoza-Contreras said. “Start inquiring, planning and saving at least one year before the semester or the time you want to go abroad. Talk to your academic advisor and come visit the ISRC as soon as you have the interest to study abroad, so that together we can start planning your experience abroad.”
The ISRC facilitates studies abroad through bilateral agreements with partner institutions around the world for semester-long and summer exchanges.
The most common reasons students are skeptical about studying abroad are expense, classes and fear of traveling to another country.
Espinoza-Contreras said students who take advantage of study abroad programs pay for tuition at NSU and can use financial aid, grants, scholarships or personal funds.
“You are already paying for tuition here. You might as well do it abroad,” she said.
As for classes, “some of these universities offer their courses in English. You would have to know some of the native language to get around, but if classes are taught in English, you shouldn’t be concerned.”
“If you are interested in learning from other cultures or the way of life of people in other places of the world, this is your best bet to enrich your life experiences and knowledge,” she said. “If students go abroad through one of NSU’s bilateral agreements there is no application fee, and students pay tuition to NSU using TOPS, financial aid or the scholarships they normally receive. Housing could actually be less expensive abroad. We also organize summer language programs in France and Mexico at a very reasonable cost, especially compared to other study abroad private programs.”
Northwestern State’s study abroad programs are open to all majors. Students must be at least a junior to qualify for the exchange programs of one or two semesters abroad. For summer programs for foreign languages, a student must have completed at least 24 credit hours by the spring and successfully complete the language pre-requisite. Students must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and be a full-time student.
“It is always a good idea to start planning the year before so that students have enough time to save money and enjoy their time abroad,” she said.