Posts Tagged 'Passport Control'

Universities! Help Study Abroad Students with Credits

I consider myself lucky.  During the summers of 2004 and 2005, I lived and studied – and later worked – in China, paid by alma mater in fellowship and student aid money.  This was crucial since I wasn’t exactly in a position to pay for the trips myself.  Mom and Dad would have helped out had I asked, and as a last resort I could have run to my Grandparents, but like I said I was lucky.  Here at GulliverGo, we are always thinking about Study Abroad and how the process can be made easier, more straightforward, and more affordable.  While we started on the right foot, I now realize that we forgot something – we forgot about credits.

A few days ago, Yale University announced that it would allow more credits from study abroad programs to count towards graduation.  There’s only one word for this: Awesome!  In years past, students who attended

If you had more study abroad credit freedom, you'd be happy too!

If you had more study abroad credit freedom, you'd be happy too!

both a study abroad program during the semester and another program during the summer would have to choose which credits to apply towards graduation.  Such a system essentially forced students to forgo the summer credits and reduced the academic benefits of participating in a summer program.  The new policy allows both semester and summer credits to be applied.

Separately, Congress is currently working on the Simon Act, and though it, hopes to send 1 million US students abroad in ten years’ time.  This is great.  Scholarships will be offered through the organization, and schools will make program more accessible.  With no dearth of outside scholarships (see our scholarships post) funding a trip will be much easier.  So the front end will be taken care of, but how about the back end?  What do we do about credits?

Credit transfer is a problem that we see all the time at GulliverGo.  If students can’t receive credit for a study abroad program, they are much less likely to go.  Such a deterrent can easily be corrected by policies like the one enacted at Yale.  Universities often have convoluted and individualized systems for accepting credit, sometimes accepting regular grades and credit from their own programs while only bestowing transfer credit to a list of approved programs.  Tech and art schools are often even more stringent.  Yale’s belt loosening gives their students much more academic freedom and is a good step towards promoting study abroad.  Students at other universities should start asking similar study abroad freedoms and universities should take note.

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What do you do after Study Abroad? Work Abroad?

So you spent a semester studying abroad in Japan your Junior year and you loved it.  To continue your international aspirations, you convinced yourself that you really wanted to study abroad in London for the spring semester.  Frankly, England really got you going and you wanted nothing more than to find a job and stay there.  But bad news, you’re not even done

Yes! But now what?

Yes, Study Abroad! But what about after?

with college, so you have no choice but to return to the US for your senior year.  One senior thesis, eight classes, and a diploma later, you’re dying to go back to London but the tedium of your immigration status has left you in a state of depression while the prospect of returning looks bleaker and bleaker.

While I personally didn’t have the wanderlust of the tale above, nor a desire to permanently abandon the US ship, I did entertain the notion of working abroad before I started working for GulliverGo.  This is when my story and the fictional story met a crossroads.  How do I get there?  I’m recently out of college and I’m ready to go, but where do I start looking?  Unlike searching for study abroad programs, finding work abroad companies and programs is less centralized. You can’t just walk into a university’s international education office and have immediate access.  There aren’t individuals nearby who can give you feedback on programs and providers.  A bit more effort is in order.

While perusing for myself, I found a few cool sites and programs that sparked my interested.  While not a comprehensive list, it might point you in a good starting direction and give you an idea of what you want (or don’t want).  Take a look:

Princeton in Asia – A few people I know used this program to find positions in Asia.  Some positions involve teaching English, but there are others in journalism, international development, and business as well.

Yale-China Association – I also know a few participants in Yale-China programs.  These programs are mostly service oriented and all are located (as you can tell from the name) in China.

British Universities North America Club – This organization provides participants with the opportunity to live, work and travel overseas for 6 months.

Going Abroad with the US Government

So far we’ve mostly been talking about undergraduate study abroad programs and opportunities, but there are also abroad opportunities for other age groups as well.  Though we are catering to undergraduate students at the moment, Gulliver is also very interested in helping older and younger demographics enjoy work and study abroad.  We’ve been thinking about the various outlets for these age groups and a few interesting opportunities keep popping up.

The first is the National Security Language Initiative for Youth program.  Sponsored by the US Department of State and administered by several well known program providers – including AFS, American Councils for International Education, Concordia Language Villages, and iEARN-USA – the program provides scholarships to students who will be studying languages important to future US diplomacy.  Languages approved for the program include Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Hindi, Korean, Russian and Turkish.  This opportunity is incredible!  550 scholarships are offered and eligibility is standard (US Citizenship, 15-18 years of age, and 2.5 GPA or higher).

I am particularly interested in this program given my own study abroad history.  After taking Mandarin classes in college, I decided to spend one summer studying in China and another summer working there.  Chinese wasn’t offered in my high school, and I wanted to learn, but financial constraints meant that I was not able to study it at the time.  A programs like this would have been world changing for me.  So hopefully, this blog can help spread the word a bit and give other interested high schools students a leg up in their language goals.

US Embassy, Berlin, Germany

US Embassy, Berlin, Germany

So high school and college students are catered for, but what about recent grads.  Yes, there are Fulbright Scholarships and other opportunities, but I personally would be looking for something different.  Something involving work.  Something a bit more adventurous.  This passing interest made a recent New York Times article catch my eye: “Hiring Window Is Open at the Foreign Service.”  Wow!  The Foreign Service!  Something about the Foreign Service shouts adventure and though I know postings in certain countries could be boring, I also know there is definitely more than a little part of me that finds it exciting.  Alas, the Foreign Service might not be for me, but a few readers out there might find this opportunity to be their cup of tea.  So if you want to get posted around the world, meets lots of people, and get involved in diplomacy, this might be an opportunity for you.

Strapped for cash? You can still go abroad.

As the year comes to a close, I’ve been thinking about 2008 as a whole.  With the economy still a fearful unknown for 2009 it has made me all the more concerned about study abroad.  It would be a tragedy if students are deterred from going abroad due to financial constraints despite the wealth of resources out there.  To help out a bit, here’s a quick guide to study abroad financial assistance.

The good news first – if you are on financial aid and you are planning to go abroad for a semester, in many cases you can use your financial aid towards your program.  This varies by program and school so you should definitely consult your study abroad office for more specifics.  The bad news – financial doesn’t extend to summer programs, but often there are other avenues available to cover these expenses.  Many program providers do provide scholarships and aid to students enrolled in their programs (even summer programs) so definitely contact your provider to find out more.

Another great source of scholarship aid can be found domestically.  ISEP, a study abroad provider, has a list of excellent scholarship resources.  One of the groups on their list is the Rotary Club.  Rotary International sponsors the Ambassadorial Scholarship which pays for students to study language and academics abroad.

Parliament and Big BenForeign governments can be very generous when it comes to scholarships and students often forget that they can apply to governments directly.  China, which was covered in the last post, has an extensive scholarship program through their Ministry of Education.  If you are enrolling directly with a Chinese University as a visiting student you are eligible to apply.  Similarly, the British Council’s education arm has an extensive database of scholarships and funds available to study abroad students.  The US government also sponsors the Gilman Scholarship specifically for study abroad students.  International education is important to many governments and it’s vital to check out their resources.

The resources to go abroad are definitely available to students who are trying to finance their trip during this tough economic climate.  This post only covers a few of the many scholarships out there so you should by no means be discouraged.  If you do some early research, plan your application cycle, and apply to scholarships, going abroad can be within reach.

China: No Longer Just Up-and-Coming

I can’t even remember the first time I went to China.  I consciously remember a trip in the winter of 1996 when it was so cold, workers had to de-ice the wings of our airplane . . . with shovels.  But the country has come a long way since then.  The Friendship Store, the one department store, has given way to Prada, Gucci, Ferrari, Rolls Royce, and all the other luxuries of the western world.  When I was younger, passing through immigration was especially scary because the guards – all men – never smiled, ever.  Today, both male and female officers view your passport and you are able to comment on their geniality via an electronic pad with smiley faces.  Oh, how times have changed.

QianmenI’ve returned to China many times since then.  I studied abroad and interned in China for two consecutive summers in 2004 and 2005 and I’ve visited the country once more since then.  The first time I was there China, was an up-and-coming destination, but I feel like the relative lack of international students, especially the lack of Americans, is what made the experience especially meaningful.  Though I lived with fellow American students while studying and interning, it was through our friendships with locals that we really learned about the culture.

For the two summers I lived in Beijing, I derived the most pleasure for learning the language, traveling, and sightseeing.  I’ve always felt that language is the doorway to a culture and without it, you will always be a foreigner.  Traveling was fun, enlightening, and beautiful – we took the overnight train from Beijing to several destinations including Inner Mongolia and Shanghai.  Eating deserves special attention.  I’ve spent more time than you could imagine smelling and eating my way around various countries.  China is the perfect place for such a thing.  Cuisines vary from city to city and from province to province.  From the dim sum carts in Hong Kong to the homely, humble stews of Mongolia, I made sure to try everything Chinese cuisine had to offer.  But I digress . . .

CCTV Tower, BeijingThe main reason I’ve spent so much time talking about China is because of the 2008 IIE Open Doors Report.  For the 2006/07 academic year – the most recent year covered by the report – China hopped easily over Australia and Mexico to secure the number 5 seating in the list of popular destinations abroad.  Other countries experienced drops in participants; several hundred fewer students studied abroad in Mexico and Australia between 05/06 and 06/07.  Meanwhile, the number of students studying in China increased by 25%, or about 2,200 students.  Let’s put this into perspective.  In order to pinpoint a country that experienced a similar percentage growth in students, the eye has to wander down seven spots to number 12: Argentina.  This South American country saw a 26% increase in number of students.  And while 26% is good growth, in terms of sheer numbers it’s only about 800 students.  Compared to Argentina, China has made some serious strides in appealing to study abroad students.  In one academic year, China reinvented its own image by moving its way from up-and-comer to heavy hitter.

It seems that everyone has been to China these days, and the Open Doors Report is just one of the sources that confirms it.  During the 2002/03 academic year, only 2,493 American students studied in China.  Between 02/03 and the 2006/07 academic year, the number of students has increased to 11,074.  That’s a jump of 440%!  So, if you’re looking to study in the rising destination – the numbers will only increase when next year’s report is released – head to China.  While you’re there taste the food, meet the people, and learn the language.  Believe me, you won’t regret it.

The Cost of Attending College Here and Abroad

For years, amongst other strong traits, the United States has had a monopoly on higher education. Year after year, students from small towns in rural countries and students from rich suburbs worked tirelessly to pad resumes so that they can enter the top tier universities and colleges in the US. And for good reason – judging by the enormous number of Ivy League graduates in Government and on Wall Street, it would appear to be a one way ticket to success and fortune. Though it might seem like US higher education is hitting its golden age, there are two interesting new factors that throw the proverbial wrench in the works: college is increasingly expensive and more students are studying overseas.

Graduating Students (photo by KitAy)

Graduating Students (photo by KitAy)

According to a New York Times article printed last week, between 1982 and 2007 the cost of college tuition and fees increased vastly more than the increase in median family income. Any way you look at it, this is a disturbing number. Additionally, the net costs at a four-year private university, such as the aforementioned Ivies, comprised 76 percent of the median family income. This data begs a few more questions. The most basic is where will the less wealthy and privileged American students go? Federal and university financial aid will have to increase to meet the larger demand and even so, there will still be a significant number of students who will have a tough time paying for school. In a more general sense, other questions are brought to mind. Is the time of US educational hegemony over? Will we start to see higher concentrations of foreign students here? Where will the less wealthy and privileged American students go? For this last question, there may be a new answer.

St. Andrews University Classics Building (photo by Jjhake)

St. Andrews University Classics Building (photo by Jjhake)

A week before the article highlighting raising college costs was published, the New York Times printed another article titled “Going Off to College for Less (Passport Required).”  In it, they describe a trend of students finding more affordable education outside of the United States. With the rising costs of college at home, more students might turn to programs like the one at St. Andrews, in Scotland. The article highlights the fact that attending St. Andrews costs about the same as it would to attend an out-of-state public university. With a growing number of Americans (St. Andrews has 1,230 this year, up from 200 ten years ago), foreign universities may soon be a more common option for students, especially where price may be concerned.

While more US students are going abroad for their degrees, the number of foreign students studying in the US is also increasing. The newly released IIE Open Doors 2008 Report shows a continuous increase in foreign student enrollment at US Universities (over 600,000 students for 07/08). These bring me to the final question and the final point: how bad is this? It’s harder to say. For sure, expensive higher education will tragically deter many from going to college, but if high costs unexpectedly send more students to seek degrees abroad, isn’t it also contributing to the type of diversity that administrators and students are looking for? If the goal of international education is broader understanding, sending more students abroad for full degrees is a step in the right direction. Now we just have to figure out how to ensure it’s accessible to everyone.

Links to the NYTimes Articles
“College May Become Unaffordable for Most in U.S.”
“Going Off to College for Less (Passport Required)”

Two new blog “series” – we’re all Study Abroad, all the time!

JY EcuadorHey everyone! My name is James Yin and I’m a member of the Gulliver Team. Just as a quick introduction, I gradutated from Yale in 2007 and I studied abroad in China for 2 summers.  I learned a lot about Chinese culture and a lot about myself, and a had a blast – so much so, in fact, that after college I went to work for PAX (www.pax.org), a Study Abroad program provider.  Then I reunited with my college friend James to start Gulliver – best.job.ever!

Andy and I are going to be running the Gulliver blog day to day, and we’ve decided to kick things off by starting up two long-term themes: “Adventures Abroad” and “Passport Control.”  “Adventures Abroad” will share epic stories of student adventures abroad. Stories will come from all over the world – whether it’s surfing in Liberia, searching for tree kangaroos in Papua New Guinea, or sneaking into ancient ruins in Peru, we’ve got it. This is where you’ll find stories of what people usually tell us not to do. But, as we here believe, we’re all the better for it. Like extreme alpinist Mark Twight says: “Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment.” Amen to that!

“Passport Control,” on the other hand, is our current events section.  Here we’ll highlight news and happenings in Study Abroad.  What are the hot new destinations?  Which colleges are making it easiest for their students to go abroad…and which hardest?  How can you take advantage of new scholarships to go abroad cheaply?  “Passport Control” is your resource for all the nuts and bolts of an international education.

At the moment we’re looking to post frequently for both themes and have the occasional guest writer as well. I think we’ve put together an exciting first group of posts and I can’t wait to share them with you. Stay tuned . . .


the blog of www.gullivergo.com

Gulliver helps students Study Abroad. Our blog covers: current issues in Study Abroad; featured posts by Study Abroad students; and Gulliver updates, news, and behind-the-scenes peaks. Thanks for reading!