FIU study abroad offers affordable program options

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By Guethshina Altena/ News Director  

In 2016-2017, 891 FIU students studying abroad. The number has increased by 40 to 50 students every year since 2012, according to the director of Study Abroad Laura Boudon.

Boudon says she is working to double the number of study abroad students by the year 2020. She is committed to Generations Study Abroad, a national initiative by the Institute of International Education to overall double the number of students.

The office has two main options when studying abroad. They have faculty led programs and international student exchange programs.

“It is true that for out of state students and international students, those students pay in-state tuition for student abroad program,” Boudon said.

“We run about 50 faculty led programs a year and the faculty and our office is very cost conscious. We know that our students have limited budgets and are not able to afford expensive programs,” Boudon said. “Our programs fees, we really try to keep it on the affordable side and our faculty is supports and help us with that.”

There is an Office of Study Abroad Scholarship that is currently open until March 1 for students to apply. They will be awarding eight scholarships of $2,500. They also help students look for nationally competitive scholarships such as the Gilman Scholarship, the Critical Language Scholarship, the funds for Education Scholarship and the Boren Scholarship.

“In the next couple of weeks, we are starting an Ignite Scholarship campaign, which is when faculty and staff can donate back to the University,” she said. “We are starting an Ignite fund and we hope to have the scholarship open in a couple of weeks.”

Most of the students study abroad in their junior year because at that point they have all of their core requirements and their major courses out of the way, she said.

“The most active colleges with regards to study abroad are:  the College of Business, the Chaplin School of Hospitality and the School of International and Public Affairs.” Boudon said. “Though we have programs for students such as other architecture and engineering.”

Jennifer Gonzalez-Abreu is a hospitality and tourism management senior who spent a semester abroad in Tianjin, China.

“I believe that for my major it is important to have a wide perspective and understanding of other countries, cultures and their local people. An experience abroad will allow me to attain that,” she said.

Gonzalez-Abreu says that she saved money by studying in China because the living expenses such as food and clothing were a lot cheaper than in the United States.

“Studying abroad in China was a great price. I paid less than $3,000 for the four-month program which included my round trip flight, airport transportation and dorm. I was also able to keep getting my Florida prepaid and scholarships that I get when I am at FIU in Miami,” she said.

Gonzalez-Abreu says that her experience in China was most definitely worth it and she would do it over again.

“I absolutely loved my study abroad experience and I loved China. I went over there with seven other FIU students who I didn’t know before this trip. We all became very close friends and we also made friend with the Chinese students. I learned about China’s interesting culture and explored its history,” she said.

Gonzalez-Abreu felt safe that she was able to study at an FIU facility abroad and she learned more about the Chinese culture as much as she did in her academic courses.

“I learned what is real and what is just a stereotype, and I got a deeper insight on their lifestyle. I feel like when you travel somewhere and make friends there, you come back with a different perspective and you feel a special connection with that country and its culture. It also makes you stand out with employers, you become a global citizen.”

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

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