As a history student you cannot travel into the past, but you can (and should) travel to a foreign country, better still, study in another country. As someone who traveled abroad for part of my student career, I can testify that it is “life changing.” If you are really interested in being educated, challenging yourself and getting out of your “comfort zone,” studying abroad is the answer.
The discipline of history is about human relations and the interaction of different cultures and nationalities. It is also about empathy and an effort to understand why groups of peoples and individuals behave as they do. Living abroad for a year will sharpen your skills as a historian, enrich your compassion for fellow human beings, and provide you with a different image of your own country.
So, if you think you would like to study abroad, learn history in a foreign location, get some of your other requirements out of the way in the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan or one of the other host countries, the CSU has a superb International Program for you. It allows students to study abroad for a year in a choice of nineteen countries. A number of those countries offer a history focus, including a few universities in the United Kingdom.
It is not as expensive as one might think. Students pay Cal State fees and get Cal State credit for their courses. Financial aid is applicable to students in this program. In many instances, rent is the same or cheaper than it is in Bakersfield. According to the CSU website, “The estimated cost for participation in the CSU International Programs varies from country to country, but, on average, the cost to spend a year abroad on IP is comparable to studying at the CSU for a year… IP Program Costs range from about $14,250 to $25,000, depending on the country you choose.” http://www.calstate.edu/ip/
Interested students should have a GPA of 3.0, or above, at the time of application. It is recommended that students go in their junior year. Depending upon what country you choose, there may be a language requirement or course requisite. For example, for Japan you need a semester of Japanese (available at BC). To go to Africa, you should have taken at least one course on Africa.
If you are curious, you can talk to me, and more importantly, you should also talk to International Programs Coordinator on campus, Ms. Karen Ziegler (661-654-6124). There will be informational meetings next quarter. Ms Ziegler has fliers on each country that has a program (and I have some too), and she has a DVD called “Breaking Barriers with Study Abroad.” This broadcast portrays CSU students who have gone abroad talking about their expectations before they go, and about their experiences after they come back. The students in the video are of a variety of ages and ethnicities, and they include a single parent who brought her two children to Paris for a year.
Ms Ziegler can also help students with the online application. The deadline for the next academic year (2009-2010) is February 1 for most programs (May 1 for Australia, New Zealand and South Africa). Students are interviewed on campus, and the CSUB committee’s recommendation will be forwarded to the central Office of International Programs. A statewide committee makes final recommendations, and students are notified of the results in early April for most programs.
If you think this coming academic year is too soon for you, there is plenty of time to plan for the following year. Remember full of details are available at http://www.calstate.edu/ip/ and Karen Ziegler (email@example.com) and I (firstname.lastname@example.org) would be delighted to talk to you.
Dr. Cliona Murphy is CSUB’s International Programs Representative. She was born in Ireland and educated there and in the US.