The National Survey of Student Engagement identifies study abroad as one of the “high impact” learning experiences that can change a student’s life forever.
Ask any of the hundreds of CSU students who have participated in the study abroad programs directed by faculty from the Department of Modern Languages at Cleveland State University. You might hear stories of realizing a dream of visiting the Eiffel Tower, of bursting into tears at the breathtaking beauty of Córdoba’s historic mosque, or of snorkeling with nurse sharks in the Caribbean. Last year about 1% of CSU’s total student population took advantage of study abroad opportunities. They joined the ranks of the more than 283,000 students from the U.S. who studied abroad in 2012-2013. According to the 2013 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, that’s an all time high and part of a national boom in study abroad programs.
Recent destinations for faculty-led summer programs at Cleveland State included China, France, Spain and Costa Rica. Summer 2014 offers students the opportunity to earn 6 to 12 credits participating in study abroad programs that range from three to five weeks. With a focus on global competencies that includes intercultural skills in addition to language competence, our study abroad programs help prepare students to shift perspectives and consider culture from a world view other than their own. An extended stay abroad, especially one living with a family that speaks little or no English, forces students to step outside of their comfort zones and into an unfamiliar space where intercultural learning can happen.
Study abroad is not just for foreign language majors. We invite students from all areas of the university to participate in these life changing experiences, and have developed curricula to appeal to students studying foreign languages and cultures as well as those in related disciplines where global competency will be a plus. Here are some examples of what you can do in the upcoming summers:
Our summer 2014 program in France takes place in Clermont-Ferrand, the world headquarters of the Michelin Corporation. Located in a region of South Central France known for its distinctive “puys,” or extinct volcanoes, this program includes a field study project that students design to fit their diverse interests. These interdisciplinary projects help them gain an intercultural perspective on their major whether it is French, International Relations, Urban Studies, Business, or Art History.
Students participating in our Costa Rica program have the option of taking Spanish language and culture courses as well as courses taught in English that can count toward majors in Health Sciences, Business, Criminology, or Environmental Studies. Costa Rica’s unique mix of tropical forests, volcanic mountain ranges and coastal areas makes it a great destination for students studying the environment, Ecotourism, or Tropical Medicine.
The program to China, organized by Modern Languages faculty in conjunction with the College of Business and sponsored in part by the Confucius Institute at CSU, focuses on China in the Global Economy. It offers students two tracks: business or contemporary culture. All students take courses in Mandarin Chinese, tour companies in Beijing and Shanghai, and visit some of China’s ancient sites such as the Forbidden City and, of course, the Great Wall.
Students traveling to Spain (upcoming in summer 2015) will live with families in Salamanca, the best-known university city in Spain and one that boasts a rich and diverse history. The four-week program, with an option for an additional 4 days in Barcelona, offers students a wide range of courses while being immersed in contemporary Spanish life. Excursions include visits to Madrid’s museums and palaces, Segovia’s aqueduct, Toledo’s medieval quarter, and Santiago de Compostela, the destination of pilgrims from throughout Western Europe.
The summer of 2015 will also offer students the opportunity to get to know Cleveland’s sister city, Rouen, located on the Norman coast in France. The birthplace of impressionism, Normandy is a historically important region known for its cuisine, cathedrals, picturesque beaches and port cities, and the role it played in WWII. Students take morning conversation classes with afternoons devoted to visiting sites such as the D-day landing beaches, Claude Monet’s gardens at Giverny, and the monastery at Mont Saint Michel. Like the French program in Clermont-Ferrand, a five-day stay in Paris concludes the time abroad.
If you’ve already studied a language for several years in high school, consider adding a language minor. This additional credential will make you more competitive in a job market where global competencies are expected. Whatever your career path may be, engaging in study abroad is a transformative experience that shouldn’t be missed. For more details, check out the study abroad web site or contact the study abroad program directors listed above.
Summer 2014: June 15 – July 15
France (Clermont-Ferrand and Paris)
Contact Dr. Annie Jouan-Westlund
Summer 2014: July 4 – August 9
Costa Rica (San José)
Contact Dr. Matias Martinez Abeijon
Summer 2014: May 9 – June 9
China (Beijing and Shanghai)
Contact Qizhi Zhang
Summer 2015: June 3-29 tentative dates
France (Rouen and Paris)
Contact Dr. Tama Engelking
Summer 2015: July tentative dates
Spain (Salamanca and Barcelona)
Contact Dr. Stephen Gingerich