Chelsea Saelee studies Public Health with an Anthropology minor. Last fall, she interned abroad with the Women’s Aid Organisation in Malaysia through IE3 Global. Read on to learn about the specific challenges and rewards that internships abroad can offer:

On September 4th, 2016 I boarded a flight and traveled 8,000 miles to my bravest adventure. When I told my parents I decided to travel abroad for my internship, I don’t think traveling alone to Southeast Asia was what they had in mind. My family emigrated from Laos, a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, and growing up, I always heard stories about family struggles with money and the region’s endemic poverty. It pained me to know that my family once lived the way they did due to unfortunate circumstances and it hurt me even more that there are still people in the world who struggle every day to survive.

During high school, I had the opportunity to travel to neighboring countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam as part of an organized volunteer group. We spent two weeks visiting orphanages and the time spent with the children and local caretakers were some of the most treasured moments I have ever experienced. I remember returning to the U.S. feeling so grateful; that was the moment that sparked my interest in studying public health. When the opportunity to intern abroad through IE3 Global came, I discovered the Women’s Aid Organisation, a leading non-profit organization in Malaysia that provides shelter and resources for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

 

Malaysia is a country with an incredibly rich history and culture. It is home to people of many ethnicities, traditions, and people. As I walked around and admired the capital city of Kuala Lumpur’s beautiful skyscrapers, I couldn’t help but to also notice the large amounts of people pan-handling on the streets. Handing over one or two ringgits didn’t seem like a big deal because it was the equivalent of 50 cents or so in the U.S. Out of curiosity, I brought up homelessness in Malaysia to a few clients and colleagues at the WAO shelter and was surprised at their instructions to never give out money again. They told me that often times, these individuals are set up by a wealthy boss or “owner” who collects the money earned at the end of the day in exchange for a roof over their head and mediocre food to keep them alive. I was shocked and upset that something so dangerous and cruel was happening nonchalantly to a great amount of people.

One night while walking with a friend, I noticed many people averting their eyes or making faces after looking at a man on the sidewalk. As we walked by him I noticed he wasn’t sitting on anything but the cold pavement and only had an empty paper cup nearby. There was a group of tourists walking behind us and just as we turned around, I noticed they had stopped and crouched down near the man. We walked over and that’s when I saw that he had a huge gash in his leg and his wound was pretty exposed. A woman asked us if we were local and if we could call for emergency and to all of our surprise, the elderly man started waving “no, no, no!” I couldn’t understand why he refused to let us call for help until I thought about the women at the shelter and wondered if perhaps this man was in a situation like they had described. We all stared at each other debating what to do and eventually decided to respect the man’s decision and leave him. The group left cash in his cup and he thanked them as they walked away. I noticed we had passed a convenience store along the way and my friend and I decided it was best not to give money but to purchase a few snacks and bandages instead. We returned, left the bag of items next to his paper cup, and walked away.

Choosing to intern abroad was an act of courage that I chose because I knew it was going to be challenging yet rewarding. Every difficult situation or task I encountered contributed the most to my gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to learn about the realities of the world, especially in impoverished areas. Whether it was spending time with the women in the shelter or handing water to a homeless disabled person on the street, each interaction I had empowered me to believe that small changes and contributions do make a difference in the world.  Having the opportunity to experience interning abroad in a new country with different people and their culture is something that I will always be grateful for. I landed in Malaysia full of curiosity and a willingness to learn and was given so much more along the way, which included the motivation to continue doing what I love: helping others.

To learn more about the international opportunities available, click here!

Nathaniel Ung studies Bio-engineering with a minor in Asian Languages and Cultures. In fall 2016, he traveled to Japan to study at Akita International University through IE3 Global. Read on for his reflections from his time abroad:

When I first arrived in Japan, I was sure of almost everything I would do there in four months. I would take my necessary courses for baccalaureate core, and some classes towards my minor in Japanese. I knew beforehand that I would not take anything for my Bio-engineering major, but looking back, a break from science courses wasn’t so bad. My study abroad allowed me to think about things outside of my major, and about what I can improve in myself, mainly my lack of interaction with peers. I have always been a quiet person who goes through the routine of school, looking at the computer for a couple hours, and doing the occasional volunteer activity, such as showing elementary students the applications of science in everyday life. However, Japan gave me opportunities that would go against my usual routine, and allowed me to figure out my interest in working abroad in Japan as either a teacher or an engineer.

I studied at Akita International University for four months as an exchange student, and those four months changed me, improving my outlook on the present and giving me more options for the future when I graduate. Even though AIU is in the countryside of Japan, I participated in many different activities. One I especially enjoyed was volunteering as part of the Research and Community Outreach Services (RCOS), a group within AIU that hosts many different projects within the local Akita community, such as weekend camps and English teaching. I loved teaching school children English, as many had a strong interest in learning the language. The kids were also excited to speak to me about America, and specifically the attractions Oregon has to offer if they ever choose to travel. They taught me how to play various games that really tested my language skills, such as their own version of rock-paper-scissors where the winner has to say a Japanese phrase and point in a direction. If the loser looks in that direction they lose, otherwise the game keeps going, but at a faster pace.

On the weekend camps with kids, I spent a total of four days teaching them how to write the lower case alphabet, with plenty of games to help them remember. I used a combination of English and Japanese to interact with them, and we all had fun playing games, learning, and cooking food. Although it was just me and other college students cooking barbecue, they enjoyed all of it. I also participated in the local rice harvesting, where locals showed students how to harvest rice, and cooked the crops for us to all indulge in together.

Of course, my experience wasn’t all about teaching; I enrolled in different courses to fulfill my OSU requirements. I took Japanese 206 at AIU because I had previous Japanese experience, but you can start learning Japanese there without prior knowledge. My class for example was taught entirely in Japanese—the teacher never spoke to us in English. When I came back to America, I was placed in the 300-level series of Japanese, which helps my minor a lot. One thing I should mention is that the campus is relatively small compared to OSU. With around 2000 students total in the university, including exchange students, I ended up getting to know my peers well. I got along well with my classmates in Japanese class, joking around in Japanese and even doing group skits for projects. For my baccalaureate courses, I took Sociology and a course about Social Movements. Discussions in these two course were interesting, as we spoke under different viewpoints: Japanese, American, European, or Indonesian, among many others. One discussion focused on the importance of seniority in different countries, and hearing some Japanese students actually detest the seniority system in their country was fascinating.

My time in Japan was amazing and opened my eyes to other things outside of America. Meeting new people, learning a new language and culture, and changing my school life for a short time allowed me to make some changes to my life here in Oregon. I try to plan my schedule better to include a social life, and I interact with more of my peers by going to movie nights or having meals together. My study abroad experience also got me thinking about applying for the JET Program—spending one year in Japan to teach English after graduation. I truly did enjoy teaching children, and being in a new country gave me new ideas about working in Japan for my major, or pursuing other work opportunities abroad. My time over there was short, but it gave me a new outlook for my major and the future.

To learn more about the international opportunities available, click here!

Savannah Stanton studies Renewable Materials with a Spanish minor. She completed an internship in Concepción, Chile with the College of Forestry in the summer of 2016. Read on to learn what memories highlighted her experience:

The fire is alit and dancing with fervor, feeding off the energy that radiates throughout the small quarters of the living room. Biting air slips through with each greeting at the door, and bundled faces filter in, receiving me with warm embraces and cheek kisses. Countless dishes pass through the narrow breezeway from the kitchen to awaiting mouths as everyone claims a chair or spot on the couch, arcing out like amphitheater seating in front of the television. Our boxer Tara makes the rounds, weaving between bodies, wiggling with excitement and grinning from all the attention. Laughter and the embellishing of old stories fill the air like jumbled clouds—a clamoring cacophony for my untrained ears, so I focus more on visual cues to traverse this new terrain. The crinkle of crow’s feet, a deep belly chuckle, the uncanny resemblance between certain attendees.

Just two days prior I was thousands of miles away. Tonight my surroundings so foreign and yet, I know I am home. I know that my journey is just getting started, and this is the first page. Refocusing my attention outward, I see the hour is nearly upon us as my little sister ties the Chilean flag with care across the window for good luck, the TV is switched to the proper channel, and drinks are in hand. The Copa America final is here, and Chile plans to defend its title against Argentina! Viva Chile!

(Left to right) Younger host sister, host mom, Savannah

Last summer, I flew south for the winter and roosted in Concepción, Chile for a 10-week internship experience with Alto Horizonte, a forest products company that aligned with both my degree in Renewable Materials and minor in Spanish. My second evening in the country was spent cheering on the Chilean national team to its second consecutive victory in Copa America with my new host family—a family from another hemisphere that excitedly embraced my presence and residence for the next three months—and their relatives and friends. I had plunged into a vibrant, bustling culture, and as I walked from baggage claim to meet my family the night before, I had smiled with a hope that the current would carry me on a spectacular journey. Looking back on that first full evening in Chile, I find myself reminiscing the connections, laughs, learning experiences, and hardships that unfolded throughout the weeks to follow.

Weekend vacation to Parque Nacional de Huerquehue

From an academic standpoint, I of course learned a plethora of things: from in-country language skills and industry terminology (in both English and Spanish), to the company’s operations, how their sawmills process, how international commercial trade functions in purchasing markets across the globe, and Chilean business regulations, to name a few. However, what I’m reminded of over and over are the stories I heard and the conversations in which I partook. It was these experiences that continue to shape my interactions and understanding in nearly all facets of my professional and personal life. Stories are meant to be experienced, not just listened to. They provide a window into the lives of others, and good storytellers can reach into your soul and evoke wonder, reflection, and understanding.

For me, there was one coworker named Juan Carlos, and although introverted in every sense of the word, he became my ‘buddy’ at work, making sure that I always had someone to go out to lunch with, providing support and feedback on my projects for the company, and being generally interested in listening to my story and sharing about his country and culture in exchange. We spent hours each week discussing politics and government policies, historical events, literature and the arts, wars, science and astronomy, culture, favorite foods, languages, the minutiae behind certain slang phrases—you name it!  He was a wealth of knowledge and sparked discussion over controversial topics between our fellow coworkers. He and my host family were such key parts to my integration into Chilean society, and were influential in shaping my holistic understanding and empathy for Chile. This family, these friends, and that company will always be a cherished part of my life, where I was introduced to a different perspective on the world and how things work.

Knowing what I do now about Chile, I’ll leave you all with this quote, written one day on the wall of the café we frequented for lunch when at the office in Concepción:

“It is far more important what you think of yourself than what others may think of you.”

It reminded me that this international internship was a chance for me to see how far I could go, and that the only limits that are imposed upon us are the ones we decide to apply. Live limitless and stray from the path on occasion. Sometimes that’s the only way we can see how far we’ve come and what might lie ahead!

To learn more about the international opportunities available, click here!

Every day that I was there felt like a new adventure. I was in a world where I was learning new things daily, and by the end of my 9 months there I felt at home.

-Kristyn Decker (participated during the 2013-2014 academic year)

CAL0W7LDFew universities can contest the location of Bangor in Wales. It is situated on the North West Coast of Wales, just a ferry ride from Ireland. The Snowdonia mountain range stands tall as a backdrop in Bangor and is a short distance (9 kilometers) away. With the sea on one side and the mountains on the other, it is no surprise why students from over 80 different countries would choose to study at Bangor every year. Walking through the quaint little city of 12,000 residents, one can find that the University buildings and residences are a short walk from the city center, which includes two modern shopping complexes, and a blend of national and local shops. There are also plenty of restaurants, cafe-bars, and pubs. Bangor has a theatre, cinema, community swimming pool, an art gallery, museums, and clubs.

This program is offered for the full Academic Year. While at Bangor, you will be taking classes in English and live in the on-campus residence halls. Bangor University offers classes for a wide range of majors including animal sciences, finance, kinesiology and more!BangorTo view academic emphasis, deadlines, costs and more details on this program, click here!

Lyndsay Toll - OSU Spain F'12 (6)A common concern with going abroad is taking the classes required for a specific major or minor. Depending on the student’s circumstances and what their academic adviser suggests, it is definitely possible to take courses abroad that count as major/minor requirements and Baccore.

To help in this process, the Office of Global Opportunities has put together curriculum integrations  for many of the majors offered at OSU. These documents give suggestions of study abroad program that line up with courses needed for certain majors. They also list the steps to planning a successful study abroad trip or international internship.

The key to getting specific classes while abroad is to start early, do your research and communicate frequently with your academic and study abroad advisers.

Jacobi_Sarah_Senegal_FoodWhen first sifting through the programs offered, there is a helpful tool on the right side of the screen that will allow you to narrow your search to programs that have a specific academic emphasis. This does not guarantee that all classes needed for that major will be offered, but it is a useful initial check point.

Some international universities have a list of courses that are available to study abroad students. To view these, go to the international university’s website and explore the International Students section.

If you have any questions on your search to find the right program for you, feel free to contact the OSU GO office at intl.ambassador@oregonstate.edu. 

Santilli_Tony_Nepal_DhawalgiriMt.While it is true that every program is unique in its location, housing, class-experience and price tag, study abroad programs typically fall into one of three main categories: Exchange, Program Provider and Faculty-Led Programs. Finding which type of program is best for you is a great starting point in your study abroad preparations.

An Exchange Program is when a student from OSU switches places with a student from an international university. While abroad, the OSU student will pay their tuition and fees directly to OSU, exactly as if he/she was staying on campus for that term.  Room and board payments will be made to the international university, and housing accommodations vary from program to program. Exchanges are often more hands-off than other programs, leaving it up to the student to plan excursions and choose course-work. Lastly, Exchanges typically have earlier application deadlines than other study abroad programs and are more competitive.

Marek_Charlene_MilanItaly_TickledNext are Program Provider study abroad experiences. OSU’s Office of Global Opportunities partners with national organizations to send students abroad. Examples of program providers are API, SAS, SIT, GEO, IFSA-Butler and CIEE. Students who participate in these programs pay all tuition and room and board fees directly to the program provider. Each program provider has specific scholarships that can help reduce the cost of participating. Often, these programs will provide excursions to neighboring cities or areas.

Lastly, Faculty-Led Programs are programs that range from two to ten weeks that are designed and executed by an OSU faculty member. The focus of these experiences varies greatly from program to program, and they can be major or research specific. Often, there are classes or workshops that students are required to attend to prepare for the experience. All tuition and fees are paid directly to OSU. For more information on a specific program, contact the faculty lead.Newhouse_Mindy_Italy_Untitled (3)If you have any questions about the different types of programs, don’t hesitate to contact a Student Ambassador at intl.ambassador@oregonstate.edu.

There is no doubt that there is a stereotype that all study abroad programs cost an outrageous amount of money to participate in. However, many students are surprised to hear that studying abroad can be financially similar to a term at Oregon State University. Studying or doing an internship abroad doesn’t have to be an expensive venture, and where you go can dramatically impact the cost. Here are a few steps to help you plan for an affordable journey of a lifetime!

First, you should decide why you want to go abroad. Is it to explore a new culture? Improve language-proficiency? Gain professional experience? Once you have goals clearly laid out for you trip, you can begin looking through programs that fit your needs. Not all programs are financially equal, and you can reduce the cost by picking a certain region or type of program. For example, on exchange programs, where you trade places with a student at the foreign university, you pay the same tuition rate as you would if you stayed at OSU.

Next, you should begin to navigate the scholarships webpicture (3)page to find ones that you qualify for. The Office of Global Opportunities offers over 30 scholarships for study abroad and international internship participants. Although some of the awards are based on financial need, there are some that don’t consider this. Career services in Kerr Administration is a great resource to help you write scholarship application essays or create a resume.

Another great resource is the financial aid office. You should begin to explore what is offered in terms of grants and loans. It is possible to increase the maximum loan amount if your study abroad program increases the cost of attending OSU significantly. Did you know that most scholarships through OSU and outside organizations can apply directly to your abroad program? Check with your scholarship provider or the financial aid office to see if your scholarship will help you go abroad.

On the Office of Global Opportunities site, there is a budget calculator that allows you to input all of the costs of going abroad (plane ticket, tuition, meals etc.) and calculates the total cost of the program. This tool is useful in comparing different programs. Ben-Spearing-CCF-F13If you have any questions on your search to find the right program for you, feel free to contact the OSU GO office at intl.ambassador@oregonstate.edu.