BY KRISTIN BARYN
SC Staff Writer
When I first decided I wanted to go abroad, I had another country in mind. However, upon entering the International Affairs Office in the Zimbar-Lijenstein Hall at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania, a poster of a smiling girl on exchange in California changed my mind. I had no idea the National Student Exchange existed.
I always desired to drive across the country and live in California for a spell, so I sat down with NSE coordinator Mike Laffey, who gave me information and resources, including the NSE official website, in order to choose a school within the program which best suited my educational goals.
Rather than flip through the NSE pamphlet, I utilized the website because of its extensive info on the 200 plus sister schools and simple navigation.
In minutes, I researched California’s universities, managing, at the end of my search, to narrow my choices down to three: California Polytechnic State University, University of California at Northridge, and University of California at Bakersfield.
Admission to my first choice, Cal Poly, proved the most difficult, for it’s an even exchange school, which means it only accepts as many students as it sends out.
Area of study and payment plan options further narrow down the acceptance rate. For example, for every outgoing biology major, Cal Poly will admit the same number of incoming biology majors. Similarly, students decide on payment plan A, where students pay the host school’s instate fees, or plan B, where students pay their home school’s fees, which also affects the probability of acceptance. I opted for either which increased the likelihood of my admittance.
Universities in the program also offer uneven and open acceptance. I suggest thoroughly researching prospective schools before making a decision, and don’t forget to account for semester verses quarter systems.
Semester and quarter systems differ in duration with a semester averaging sixteen to eighteen weeks and a quarter averaging ten to twelve weeks.
After settling on schools, I then had the daunting task of picking classes from the host schools, finding ESU’s equivalents, obtaining signatures from my advisor, the department chairs of every subject I chose including my own, and the Dean because I would complete my last thirty plus credits while on exchange.
I quickly grew tired of running around, for I chose twenty to thirty classes for each school; if the registration process at the host school parallels that of my home school, I wanted to prepare for the aggravation of “closed” courses. However, Mike helped me tremendously by answering my constant questions, giving me multiple copies of blank course approval forms, and made sure I met all my deadlines.
I have to hand it to him, I probably would have lost patience with myself, so thank you Mike for your kindness and tolerance; you definitely eased my process.
After running myself ragged searching out equivalents and gathering the necessary signatures, I handed in my application and prayed for the best. I waited approximately three months for a placement decision as I submitted my application in December and received a definitive answer in March.
To my delight, my first choice, Cal Poly, accepted me. I could not contain my excitement, and I highly anticipated my adventurous cross-country trip. I planned to camp my way across as many states as possible, soaking in the varied landscapes as I went while writing about it, and that’s exactly what I did. I packed my belongings, left my home, and embarked on a incredible journey.
Life is short people, so if you want to do something and have the means to do it, go for it. Don’t pass up an amazing, life-changing opportunity staring you in the face. If you want to study abroad, do it.
Find yourself while receiving an education and learning about another culture; step out of your comfort zone, and take a chance. Don’t tell yourself “Oh, well, maybe next month or next year. It’s just not the right time” because I’m warning you, sometimes life gets in the way, and you may never have the chance again.
“Not the right time” turns into “Shoot, why didn’t I do it when I had the chance?” I’d rather not deal with that kind of regret and disappointment; therefore, I live my life, and I live it deliberately. Can you say the same?
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