While some of Portland State’s growing student population is content to stay within the bounds of the South Park Blocks, more adventurous students may find their PSU experience looking for something a little more international. That’s where PSU’s Education Abroad Office comes in.
An experience of a lifetime
While some of Portland State’s growing student population is content to stay within the bounds of the South Park Blocks, more adventurous students may find their PSU experience looking for something a little more international.
That’s where PSU’s Education Abroad Office comes in.
Education Abroad offers over 100 programs in countries around the world, including Egypt, China, Italy and Mexico–over 40 countries in all, said Alyse Collins, an advisor in Portland State’s Education Abroad Office.
But, perhaps more importantly, Collins stresses the real point of studying abroad through PSU is to experience other cultures.
“If a student is willing and is ready for a challenge, and something that will change their life, then education abroad is something you should definitely look into,” Collins said.
Collins said part of her job as an advisor for the Education Abroad Office is to help students overcome any reservations they may have about studying abroad.
“A lot of students think, ‘It’s too expensive, or I have too many commitments here in the states,'” Collins said. “But we try to work with students to find something that works for them.”
Over 500 PSU students study abroad, majoring in everything from foreign language and international studies to general studies and business, Collins said. Depending on a student’s interest they have short-term programs lasting one to five weeks, to a whole school year, she said.
As an advisor, Collins also informs students of funding options, such as financial aid, as well as government and private scholarships that can be used to pay for studying abroad.
If a student can’t make a long-term commitment to studying abroad the advisors try to match them up with a short-term faculty-led program, Collins said.
For students that are just learning a second language there are many programs as well, such as study abroad sessions in Europe, or in countries such as Israel and Botswana.
“You see American culture in a different way… you see yourself in a different way,” Collins said about students’ transformations upon returning home from abroad.
PSU students can also choose programs that will allow them to study with foreign students or other Americans, as well as hybrid education programs that allow students to study both with local students and in classes specifically designed for American students.
Collins hopes that many students come out for the Education Abroad Fair, featuring representatives from over 100 study abroad programs, to learn more about the various programs.
“You really become part of that culture,” said Anna Brozek, a graduate student employed by the Education Abroad Office. “Most students don’t get to experience something like this any other time of their life.”
The Education Abroad Fair will be held Oct. 8 in room 335 of the Smith Memorial Student Union. For more information about PSU’s Education Abroad programs, visit oia.pdx.edu or attend one of the department’s local info sessions every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. in East Hall, room 211.
One student’s storyJill Scantlan, an international development major at PSU, is no stranger to different cultures and ways of life. She has been to places such as Argentina, Japan and Europe, but then she stepped foot in Hyderabad, India, for nine months last year.
In spite of Hyderabad’s status as an IT hub of the world, drawing business workers from around the globe, Scantlan says she was still taken aback by the intense poverty and huge population of the developing country.
“Usually peoples’ first reaction when they come to India is, ‘I don’t want to leave my room.’ It’s overwhelming,” says Scantlan. “Everything is happening at once all around you… people are living on the street, working on the street… sleeping on the street.”
Scantlan says her most intense moment of culture shock came when she was staying with a Hindu host family. Unbeknownst to her, the grandfather of the family passed away during the night. She found him the next morning, lying on the ground wrapped in a sheet.
“It was so shocking, ’cause I came downstairs and he was just lying there on the ground dead… I almost freaked out,” Scantlan states.
Scantlan was drawn to India because of the health issues that they are facing. HIV, malaria and tuberculosis plague India.
Despite the initial shock that she had going to Hyderabad, she speaks affectionately of the city. “It’s like an adventure every day,” Scantlan says. “Everyone was so interesting. I think the relationships that I made there were definitely the best part of my trip to India.”
Scantlan is returning to India next summer on a public health internship.