Dylan McDowell is a junior at Oregon State University, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife with a minor in Education. Dylan is studying abroad during the Fall term ’12 in Tanzania, Africa, with SIT Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology program. Below is a entry from Dylan’s blog reflecting on his experience in an unfamiliar, but amazing environment.

Halfway across the world in the mountains of Tanzania, the Mazumbai Tropical Forest takes me back to foggy hikes growing up in the temperate forests of Oregon. The fog turns to rain turns to brief sunshine all in the span of minutes, just like back home. While the feel is the same, a closer look shows the differences. The ferns here are raised on stocks, there are leaves more than 4 feet long, vines dangle from trees just asking to be climbed, and a sweet smell accompanies a walk through the forest. And, unlike Oregon, colobus monkeys move through the canopy riling up hornbills.

Dylan and his friends in Tanzania

Our group sets up camp on the lawn of a Swiss chalet turned research station. Over the next few days we research plant variation both vertically and horizontally within the tropical forest as part of our studies. The real topic of discussion is the village below the forest and the issues surrounding their resource use.

An elephant’s visit to a campsite

The eastern face of the Western Usambara Mts. Have an astonishing growth rate of 4.2% per year without immigration, and the average number of children per women is 8! This rapidly increasing population is straining the forest resources of wood and water.

We drive into the village to chants of “Wazungu” (white person)from children chasing the car. In the village we break up into groups to discuss issues with the local people. I am astonished to discover many aren’t sure of their own age.

Spending time at Mazumbai showed me a unique view of Tanzania not normally seen by outsiders. In a country known for sprawling savannahs, this rare glimpse into a tropical forest and its people is what studying abroad is all about.

SFS – The School for Field Studies – is one of the official partners with OSU in study abroad.  All of the SFS programs are approved at OSU and available to all eligible students.

SFS creates transformative study abroad experiences through field-based learning and research. Our educational programs explore the human and ecological dimensions of the complex environmental problems faced by our local partners, contributing to sustainable solutions in the places where we live and work. The SFS community is part of a growing network of individuals and institutions committed to environmental stewardship. SFS is committed to preserving the ecological health and sustainability of the communities in which we work. SFS:

  • Identifies environmental issues critical to their communities
  • Develops research plans to address them
  • Provides high-quality results and recommendations that promote the sustainable use of natural resources upon which these communities depend

Making a Difference One Person, One Research Problem at a Time
Each one of us has a valuable role to play in helping to protect our environment for future generations of plant, animal, and human life on earth. Yet tackling big problems can seem daunting, and you might question your ability to make a difference. As an SFS student:

  • You will be part of an international research team working to solve it, whether you are replanting critically fragmented rainforests in Australia or helping Costa Rican farmers transition to organic agriculture.
  • You will develop leadership skills, build self-confidence, and discover the vital role you can play in the larger global community.
  • You will develop personal relationships with members of the local community, putting a human face on the environmental problems you are studying, which is often the most rewarding part of the SFS experience.
  • You will be challenged and inspired by the work you do. Your work will make a real difference in a local community and make a positive contribution toward the sustainable use of the world’s natural resources.

SFSprograms are high-quality interdisciplinary academic, undergraduate-level programs. SFS “classrooms” include coral reefs, rainforests, and African savannas; the focus of our research ranges from wildlife conservation to rainforest restoration.

SFS programs are designed to teach students about critical local environmental problems and train them to do field research that will help address these problems. Our faculty provide core lectures needed to understand the content areas pertinent to case study and research questions. Field exercises complement classroom lectures and help students to develop skills needed for Directed Research projects.

The School for Field Studies (SFS) awards over $300,000 in need-based scholarships and loans each year with roughly one third of SFS students receiving some type of aid.

Lucía Robelo is a Spanish instructor at OSU, and the Program Coordinator for the Chillán study abroad program offered by the Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures.

OSU students participating in the Chillán study abroad program spend the entire fall term in Chile, and some students spend additional  1-3 weeks traveling in Chile and South America during their winter break. Every year we have had 2-3 students who decided to stay longer, for one or two more terms in Chile. These students have continued being full time OSU students and received Financial Aid by taking online classes during their extended stay in Chile. A few students even decided to live in Chile for a few years! Chile has many things students really love. Many of them say that they have never been so happy when they are in Chile. During their stay, students gain confidence in their oral skills and also work on their writing skills. They learn a lot about the Chilean culture as well as about themselves and their own culture. Before departing from OSU, students are paired up with a compañero or compañera chilena, that is a Chilean partner attending the Universidad del Bío Bío, where OSU students study in Chile.

Tara Hermens and her two moms: her Chilean mom and her American mom who came to Chile to visit her.

Program participants are the best ambassadors. For many of them, this program is their first trip abroad on their own, without their family. In Chile, they are welcomed by their host family from the moment they arrive in town, and stay with them for the entire three months. Besides the language learning opportunities, host families provide the main cultural context in which the students will function.  The bonds that develop between our OSU students and their host families are long-lasting.  The program includes three excursions, and host families regularly take their OSU host children on outings during their three-day weekends. Other times students plan their own weekend with their compañeros chilenos. Every year, students consistently state that the highlight of their experience was the relationship they developed with their host family.

For OSU students pursuing Bachelor of Art degrees, this program is all they need to complete the B.A. language requirement. The program has proven to be a favorite choice for students completing their Second-Year Spanish at OSU.

Ashlin Kneeland at the Chillán market with a Chilean “huaso” (a Chilean man wearing the typical attire)

As  the Chillán Program Coordinator at OSU, I teach the pre-departure spring orientation class. In this class, we talk about their fears and anxieties about their upcoming study abroad experience and ways of coping with them.  Past participants volunteer as TA’s for the class by sharing their enthusiasm and stories from their own experience. Statements like “I never knew that learning Spanish could be so much fun”, or “This has been the best experience of my life” are repeated every year.

Caleb Green enjoying his coffee in southern Chile.

I am happy to say that every year, when I see my students upon returning from Chile, their Spanish has improved so much that they want to speak only in Spanish with me. I hear them talking about Chile with a big grin on their face, telling me how much they miss Chile (“extraño mucho Chile”). I feel very fortunate to be in this role.  Those smiles are the best reward for me.

For more information, please contact Lucía Robelo, Program Coordinator, or visit the program website.

Read a blog entry by one of the Chillán  program participant.

The School of Design and Human Environment (DHE) – now part of the College of Business at OSU – offers a variety of international opportunities to DHE majors. Sandy Burnett is the DHE Internship Coordinator, and also serves as the central point of contact for international programs at DHE.

There are many international opportunities for students in the School of Design and Human Environment to take part in. These range from one week study tours to full term experiences studying at various universities abroad. Whether you want to get a quick glance at Asia’s fashion scene or immerse yourself in a full time international internship experience helping build a school out of recycled materials in Guatemala, there is an international opportunity available for any DHE major.

DHE STUDY TOURS: DHE study tours have gone to Europe and Asia. Typically, these study tours occur every other year, each tour alternating years.

The Art, Architecture and Dress Study Tour of Europe offers students a study of Europe’s 2000 years of architecture, interiors and dress. Students tour ancient ruins, Renaissance art and architecture, famous museums, and contemporary design in some of Western Europe’s most exciting cities. The group travels by trains, subways, boats, coaches, and planes while exploring London, Paris, Florence, and Rome.  The next tour is expected to be offered the Summer of 2014. For more information, please contact Elaine Pedersen in DHE.

The Hong Kong Fashion Week Study Tour is a 10 day study tour in, you guessed it, Hong Kong. A small group attends the Hong Kong Fashion Week tradeshow including live fashion shows, seminars, designer contests, while featuring the latest fabrics, materials and fashions for upcoming seasons. It is known worldwide for its large sourcing expo and is attended globally by top designers, manufacturers and retailers in the apparel and footwear industry. In addition to attending the tradeshow, the group visits the heart of Hong Kong’s fashion scene visiting key fashion markets, retailers and company site visits. Students also have the opportunity to study China’s tradition and culture while visiting museums, traditional monuments and cultural excursions all while eating Chinese traditional cuisine. Currently, a study tour of main land China is in the planning stages. For more information, please contact Sandy Burnett in DHE.

Armelle Denis teaches French and Anthropology courses at OSU. She is in Angers, France, during the fall term ’12 as the visiting faculty for AHA International.

Bonjour from France! In between taking my daughter to school and eating croissants, I am stepping into my role as Visiting Faculty for the AHA program in Angers, and working to develop courses for incoming students (who will arrive in 3 weeks exactly!). It involves making extensive use of the myriad resources that the OSU library offers to OSU students and faculty, like E-journals, E-books, and scan and deliver. It’s a little like being on campus while actually living 8,000 miles away!

AHA Angers students in front of the Château d’Angers in Angers, France.

I will teach two courses during Fall term: one about contemporary issues in France (such as immigration, issues of national identity, French perceptions of Americans…), which will closely follow the news as it happens. The other class will focus on regional cultures and identities, those cultures and identities that remain vibrant well into the 21st century in all corners of France. We’ll pay special attention to the Breton culture, because Brittany is only 60 miles away from Angers, because the Breton regional movement has been and remains particularly active, and because I feel strongly attracted to Brittany. See, my father hails from outside of Vannes in lower Brittany, and while he has never passed down any of the Breton language to me, I vividly remember from my childhood hearing him speak Breton with his mother — a strange and harsh sort of language, mysterious and beautiful nevertheless. Through this course, I get a chance to delve into Breton culture, explore its history and discover what makes it still so vibrant in the hearts of Breton people.

One of those things, contributing to the strength and resilience of Breton identity, is music: traditional songs played on traditional instruments or blended with newer musical genres (rock, pop, rap even!). Breton music, like other Celtic musical styles, is essentially dance music, and people congregate to this in night-time dancing festivals all over Brittany, called festoù-noz. With my class, we’re hoping to attend one or two of those night festivals, learn some good moves and feel first-hand the sense of community that arises there. Fun times ahead!

More details will follow — in the meantime, here’s a little gift: a good website that will give you an idea of the various regional musical styles in France: http://www.languesdefranceenchansons.com/site.php  Enjoy!

API – Academic Programs International – has officially been partnered with OSU since 2005, and over 140 OSU students have studied abroad in eight countries thus far.  All of the API programs are approved at OSU and available to all eligible students.

Academic Programs International (API) is an educational organization dedicated to providing challenging and enriching study abroad programs for our students. The experience of living, interacting and learning in an international environment presents invaluable opportunities for each student’s academic and personal development. All of our academic and extracurricular offerings are selected with the goal of helping students to grow more self-aware and culturally sensitive. We envision each student evolving from a tourist to a resident to a global citizen, and API is dedicated to supporting this lifelong process.

API study abroad

API is committed to providing the best comprehensive study abroad experience possible with personal attention available to our students throughout his or her program, and to working closely with home universities to offer support before, during and after the education abroad experience.

API offers a wide variety of programs in 13 countries, 30 cities across Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Programs range from as short as two weeks, to a summer, term/quarter, semester, or academic year. Students can generally study a foreign language at any level of proficiency, and most programs offer courses in English as well. API also offers various scholarships to eligible and qualified students.

API Gives Back

Each semester, API on-site directors organize an API Gives Back Project to promote greater understanding of local dynamics and provide further insight into the host culture. Projects are often dedicated to supporting those in need or promoting environmental sustainability. For example, students have participated in beach beautification projects in Italy and worked to promote the preservation of salt marshes in Spain. API students in other sites have painted local orphanages, organized theatrical events for seniors and children, and donated their time to support community organizations providing services to disabled children and adults. It is our hope that these experiences will promote integration and intercultural awareness between our students and the host community.

Don’t take our word for it!

If you’d like to speak with someone who recently experienced an API program, consider connecting with an API Peer Mentor, or read student reviews of our programs on Abroad101, GoAbroad.com, and Facebook.

API is the established social media leader in study abroad. Connect with us on the following sites and join the conversation today!

API study abroad

SIT (School for International Training) study abroad has officially been partnered with OSU since 2006, and OSU students have taken advantage of its programs to study in non-traditional study abroad destinations, such as Bolivia, Madagascar, Mongolia, Nepal, and the Netherlands thus far. All of the SIT programs are approved at OSU and available to all eligible students.

SIT Study Abroad offers unique, field-based opportunities for OSU undergraduates to engage directly with the most critical issues facing our world today.  If you are looking for a way to take your academic training beyond the classroom and you want to see first-hand how different cultures and societies are coping with the realities of the 21st century, then a SIT Study Abroad program is right for you.

With SIT, you will become deeply engaged in a topic, undertake you own research, and perhaps discover a lifelong passion. You will deepen your understanding of your chosen topic by learning from experts, academics, practitioners, families, local organizations, and beyond.

SIT Study Abroad has offered programs for undergraduate students for over 50 years.  To date, more than 25,000 students have participated in SIT programs. SIT currently offers over 70 summer or semester long programs in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, the Pacific, and the Middle East that address these Critical Global Issues:.

All programs are run by Academic Directors who live full-time in the program location and are experts in the field. Each program consists of some combination of the following coursework: Intensive Language Study, a Thematic Seminar on the specific topic of the program, a Field Study Seminar which teaches research methods and ethics, and an Independent Study Project. In a typical semester-long program, Intensive Language Study, Thematic Seminar and Field Study Seminar coursework occurs simultaneously in the first two-thirds of the program, while the Independent Study Project takes place in the last four weeks. Our summer programs use selected elements drawn from this same model.

These are the hallmarks of a SIT Study Abroad Experience:

  • Rigorous academic programs with an interdisciplinary, experiential approach
  • Undergraduate research through an Independent Study Project
  • Cultural immersion through fieldwork, educational excursions, intensive language classes (if in a non-English speaking country), and homestays
  • A small group of 10-30 students in each program
  • A commitment to reciprocity as the foundation of our educational philosophy

The mission of SIT Study Abroad is to prepare students to be interculturally effective leaders, professionals, and citizens. In so doing, SIT fosters a worldwide network of individuals and organizations committed to responsible engagement in a changing world. Come join us!

Connect with students, colleagues, alumni, and friends through our many social networking channels. Learn about the latest program updates, read interviews with current students and alum, watch videos and view photos of our programs. SIT also offers Pell Grant Match scholarships to students who receive Pell grant and participate in targeted programs.