“I had a trip of a lifetime, there is really no other way to put it,” said Jason Loyola, a senior business marketing major, regarding his recent study abroad experience in Santiago Chile. Loyola was among three students at the California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) Study Abroad Fair sharing their stories in hopes of encourage their peers to embark on a cultural exchange.
This year’s fair –the largest in the university’s history–boasted 19 organizations and several hundred destinations, including international programs such as University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), the CSU International Program, the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program (JET), and even a student travel company.
“Study abroad positively impacts both student retention and success in career prospects,” said Gary Rhodes, associate dean of international programs at CSUDH. “At an institution where we are really working hard to increase student success, having students participate in study abroad can be a high impact practice.”
Marketing and management professor Kirti Celly believes that the earlier students can go abroad the better. She explained that when students study abroad, it transforms them and sometimes the content of the course is even less important than the experience itself.
“I was interested in [study abroad], but I wasn’t really focused on it,” said Ariyana Williams, a freshman graphic design major. “Now that I am seeing everything here, I really, really want to go!”
Williams was interested in studying in the United Kingdom or Japan, but after talking to an organization that had a good art program in Barcelona, she was open to other countries as well. At the CSU International Programs table, Williams learned that there were potential scholarships and she could use her financial aid to study abroad in Japan.
“Many students don’t feel it is a possibility for them,” said Elsa Sanchez, program advisor for the CSU International Programs, stressing that with proper academic and financial planning, many students can take advantage of a study abroad program.
Some majors, like psychology, language or international relations, are easier to work into a full year abroad in the CSU program. For other majors, USAC offers shorter time abroad. For example, Loyola took a five-week summer course that met his comparative cultural studies requirement.
The program was certainly worthwhile for Loyola, who said that he is doing better academically this semester than he has in the past. Being placed with 28 students, some of whom were from top universities, allowed him a glimpse of their study habits and gain an increased motivation to work hard on his own studies. Beyond classes, Loyola said that he gained a new appreciation for other cultures and broadened his horizons.
Video of Jason Loyola’s experiences abroad (it wasn’t all studying).
“I think about it every day,” said Loyola. “I am definitely having a study abroad hangover.”
To learn more about study abroad programs at CSUDH, call the Study Abroad office at 310-243-3919 or visit their website.