Away from home

Ann Kopecky

Ann Kopecky

While most SDSU students step on to campus to attend class each day, others step into another country.

England, Italy, China, Spain and Ecuador are just a few of the countries that students study at through the SDSU study abroad program each year.

“It’s a life changing experience in all kinds of ways,” Harriet Swedlund, SDSU director of international programs said.

Study abroad programs are facilitated through agreements with the Manchester Metropolitan University, Chungnam National University and University of Salford. The modern language department and other SDSU departments also offer study abroad opportunities each year.

In addition, SDSU belongs to the College Consortium for International Study. Students can gain access to programs provided by American universities in more than 30 countries.

According to Swedlund, approximately 100 SDSU students participated in the program and earned college credits last year.

“It changes from one year to the next and depends on what program they want to do,” Swedlund said.

No matter what program the student chooses, it’s a valuable opportunity, Swedlund said.

“From a personal experience, you learn a lot about yourself and the culture,” Swedlund said.

Students who travel abroad, learn to try different food, grow accustomed to unfamiliar surroundings, meet new people and gain positive experiences.

“You gain a different perspective because you see South Dakota and the United States from a different location and from the lifestyle of a different culture,” Swedlund said.

Stephanie Kalsbeck, a junior Spanish major from Estelline, agrees.

“It’s nice to have your eyes open to another culture,” Kalsbeck said.

Kalsbeck and 17 other students traveled to Ecuador with Spanish Professor Richard Tooke last summer as part of the study abroad program with the modern language department.

Kalsbeck decided to take up the opportunity to study abroad for a month to see another country and enhance her level of Spanish speaking.

During the week, Kalsbeck and the other students stayed with host families and attended classes with people from other countries in Quito.

On weekends, the group toured the country and learned more about the culture of Ecuador, which included trying new food.

“One night we tried guinea pig,” Kalsbeck said. “I only had a little bit but frankly it tasted like chicken.”

Besides putting her taste buds to work, Kalsbeck said that she learned a lot about the people who live there and their culture, besides putting her Spanish to the test.

“After taking classes there, you’re at a new level,” Kalsbeck said.

This is just one of the reasons Swedlund highly encourages students to participate in the program.

“It gives you a leg up on things for a lifetime,” Swedlund said.

According to Swedlund, those who have came back from studying in other countries have become better students and more competitive in the job market after graduation.

Besides the new skills and valuable experience, Swedlund said that she also hopes students gain one more aspect of studying abroad.

“Hopefully you come out with an empathy for different cultures and respect for different cultures,” Swedlund said.

Kalsbeck agrees.

“It’s a commitment of your time,” Kalsbeck said. “It is an expensive trip but it’s definitely worth the cost.”

#1.887479:1794052735.jpg:abroad.jpg:Located in the chateaux-filled Loire Valley of France, this castle, Chenonceau, is famous because part of it extends over water. Europe offers many study opportunities to SDSU students. :