Graduate encourages students to study abroad


Aaron BerkowitzGeneral Assignment Reporter 

Golden suns falling into the Mekong River, waterfalls, and gorgeous tropical fruit are what Brendan Walsh, student in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, thinks of when he recalls his trip to Laos. Walsh helped teach an English class at Vientiane College and said his daily interactions with people are so memorable.

He told of his year-long experience in Laos during a forum he held called, “Tuk-Tuks, Sticky Rice, And Sunsets.”

“Why does anybody go anywhere?” said Walsh. “Me? I do it for gratitude, perspective and understanding. Gratitude for not only your culture but also others. Perspective because you look at the world differently as you travel. Understanding because travel is a major point of global empathy.“

Walsh said he advises students to take the opportunity of studying abroad and that going to another country for a long period of time is challenging but it forces you to learn about yourself.

Brendan Walsh, Office of International Education, talks about a painting of a Lao woman carrying a yolk that he purchased while teaching in Laos.

Brendan Walsh, Office of International Education, talks about a painting of a Lao woman carrying a yolk that he purchased while teaching in Laos.

“It really is all about going in with the right mindset,” said Walsh. “You can go in thinking negative like, ‘I have to go to learn a new language and eat weird foods’ or you can go there and be willing to experience an entirely new culture and grow from the experience.”

Students at SCSU are eligible to study abroad as long as they have a 2.75 GPA, are full-time, and have at least 30 credits. There is also the option of a student doing national student exchange, which is when they go and study in another part of the country, or they can study abroad which is where they leave the country, said Jazmin Sharif, graduate assistant in the International Education Office.

She said the first step for students to take if they are interested in studying either out of or in another part of the country, is to attend one of the mandatory information sessions on any Wednesday at 1:10 p.m. until 1:50 p.m. or any Thursday from 12:30 p.m. until 1:10 p.m. in Engleman A105.

Sharif said students have the option of taking all or some of their classes in what ever language the country they chooses native language.

According to studyabroad.ucmerced.ed, 97 percent of study abroad students found employment within 12 months of graduation, when only 49 percent of college graduates found employment in the same period.

“What’s nice is you don’t have to go for as long as a semester. We had our Bermuda program which ran for 10 days,” said Sharif. “You can knock out your requirements in another country, be immersed in the language, be immersed in the culture and then come back to tell about it. A lot of the time students will come back from the day stay and wished they chose to stay longer.”

Sarah Lauture, senior communications major, studied abroad over the summer in Salamanca, Spain. Culture shock set in rather shortly after her arrival, which made her feel sick, but after a while she adjusted and got to enjoy the relaxed culture of Spain.

“The professors in Spain used to tell us all of the time ‘You’re not a tourist, you’re a student. You’re a Spanish speaking student so don’t run around just taking pictures, actually take in the new environment and culture,’” said Lauture. “Traveling gives you an urge to see more. I love the Spanish culture so me getting the chance to live that is very important to me.”

Photo Credit: Derek Torrellas, feature image of Laos, Collin Key

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