Despite the war with Iraq’s probable effect on the economy and political views, it has not had a great effect on study abroad programs at CSU.
Kara Bingham, director of Study Abroad, said it is too early to tell if numbers have changed dramatically regarding those signing up for study abroad programs. Applications are still being accepted for the fall semester, and they won’t be able to tell if there have been any real changes until after May 1.
“The Middle Eastern conflict isn’t hindering my plans to study abroad. The Study Abroad destinations I’m considering are far removed from the Middle Eastern turmoil,” said Katy Hussey, a freshman open-option major.
Bingham reported that no students currently abroad have had to return home or cancel their plans because of the war.
“The war is making students much more aware of how the United States is perceived in the world, and they are having to discuss that on a regular basis,” Bingham said.
There are currently no travel restrictions that affect where students in study abroad programs may or may not go. Bingham says they have the same policy that they have always had; students are not allowed to study abroad in countries where the U.S. State Department has travel warnings.
An e-mail regarding safety was sent to all the students currently abroad this semester before the war with Iraq began March 19. The e-mail included information that reassured students that their programs would continue, and also suggested several tips to make sure students felt secure in their foreign homes.
Some of these tips included reading local newspapers to keep with events and the “local attitudes” towards them. Another safety tip said to “Be aware of your surroundings and try not to bring attention to yourself as an American through your dress or behavior,” and to remember that alcohol impairs judgment and clear-thinking abilities, according to the e-mail.
Study Abroad provides students the opportunity to go to college in places such as Australia, England, Spain, Italy, Wales, France, Canada, Germany, Japan and many other locations. The top four destinations in the past few years have been Australia, England, Spain and Italy, Bingham said.
Over the course of a year, there are generally around 450 students from CSU who study abroad, and Bingham says the war “provides a different perspective on U.S. foreign policy,” and that students have very valuable learning experiences while they are in another country.
Bingham said that talking to people in other countries makes students much more aware of their own country, particularly about the historical aspect. Students are surprised, reported Bingham, that they learned just as much or more about their own country as they do about the country they’re in.
“It’s never too late to be considering study abroad,” Bingham said.