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Joan in GE

Studying/Working Abroad - the importance of it in a global economy

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(esp for business majors)

 

Hi All,

 

While waiting for dd to do her AP exam yesterday, I read this article on the bulletin board of the Neuchatel Junior College (a high school that serves mostly Canadians but some Americans for their 12th grade abroad, in Neuchatel, Switzerland). (I realize this school is for the really wealthy as I just looked at their tuition fees - gasp!! But the article is about college itself)

 

The article (A Changed Focus for Study Abroad) discusses the importance of getting not just studying, but also internship/work experience, abroad, during college....

 

Admittedly, it is more important for some professions than others...

 

Joan

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(Before commenting on the post, I want to commend Joan for having the tag thing together. For me tags are an afterthought, something I have not even figured out on this new board!)

 

Yikes--when you said expensive, you meant expensive! And don't forget to add fees for those "enhanced" travel experiences.

 

My son has chosen a field (archaeology) that often includes travel abroad. When we were touring colleges, we were very impressed with Dickinson in Carlisle, PA, a school that in general promotes a semester or year abroad. The field director of Mycenae is a prof at Dickinson. Not only has he reproduced a slice of Mycenae in the Archaeology lab there, he has all of the students attending the field school take a semester of modern Greek before going so that they can at least have minimal communication with townspeople and site workers. I think this is brilliant!

 

When my son was looking at field schools, usually held during summer holidays, he saw a range of experiences and prices. Many of the programs sponsored by American universities are quite expensive--in part to cover the tuition credits involved. The program in which he participated last summer was run by a British university. Nothing glamorous about it--the students sleep in tents, use portapotties ("portaloos" in Britain) and have basic food provided during their six day work week. Students came from around the world but the majority from the sponsoring school. When it was all said and done, he learned a lot--not only about the once Roman town but also about functioning in a slightly different culture.

 

He returns to the the field school this year in a junior supervisory position. No paycheck, but no fees and food provided. The field director of the program has already provided a letter of recommendation for something else. Expanding the network of contacts for students can pay off as well as listing these interesting experiences on one's resume or CV.

 

I just hope that there are less expensive ways for our kids to gain some valuable experiences since not everyone can afford the high priced programs.

 

I have noted before that one of the engineers in my family regularly travels to Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Poland, etc. for his corporation. Some people seem to think that English is the only language used in certain professions. People in restaurants, hotels and at the family dinner tables of colleagues appreciate attempts of visitors to join in the culture.

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When it was all said and done, he learned a lot--not only about the once Roman town but also about functioning in a slightly different culture.

 

:iagree:

More than a handful of my cousins and nephews studied abroad (UK, AU) and work during summer there. It is the skill of adapting to a different culture and expanding of their worldview.

 

Hubby did his exchange programme as an undergrad in University of Waterloo, Canada. He like it so much it made him consider canadian universities as a choice for our kids.

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I have noted before that one of the engineers in my family regularly travels to Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Poland, etc. for his corporation. Some people seem to think that English is the only language used in certain professions. People in restaurants, hotels and at the family dinner tables of colleagues appreciate attempts of visitors to join in the culture.

 

Jane, I loved your entire post but wanted to comment on this last bit. My dh is in Singapore on business this week, and had dinner Monday night with a friend there. The friend asked whether he wanted to go to a "traditional" Singaporean restaurant or a western restaurant. While dh appreciated the friend's sensitivity to his wishes, there was no doubt that he wanted something local. They went to a local "hawker" market, where you can buy any variety of foods and eat on picnic tables. They split Indonesian chicken and an Indian dish and then had shaved ice for dessert. :)

 

My dd has loved her junior year abroad, though she's in an English speaking country. She has made oodles of friends and tried new foods and now drinks a lot of tea :laugh:

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Jane, I loved your entire post but wanted to comment on this last bit. My dh is in Singapore on business this week, and had dinner Monday night with a friend there. The friend asked whether he wanted to go to a "traditional" Singaporean restaurant or a western restaurant. While dh appreciated the friend's sensitivity to his wishes, there was no doubt that he wanted something local. They went to a local "hawker" market, where you can buy any variety of foods and eat on picnic tables. They split Indonesian chicken and an Indian dish and then had shaved ice for dessert. :)

 

My dd has loved her junior year abroad, though she's in an English speaking country. She has made oodles of friends and tried new foods and now drinks a lot of tea :laugh:

 

Your husband's anecdote is exactly what I am talking about. A once formerly picky eater, the aforementioned engineer in my family now eats with the locals wherever he goes. This is part of the reason that he is so successful in bringing together international teams of engineers.

 

I hope you are able to spend some quality time with your daughter this summer. Hard to believe that our kids are rising seniors in college!

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I just hope that there are less expensive ways for our kids to gain some valuable experiences since not everyone can afford the high priced programs.

 

Some countries are definitely cheaper than others!

 

And sometimes study abroad programs offered by the US school, are actually more expensive than studying at the same university as a regular applicant - esp in some European countries where tuition can be quite low....

 

Even if you might not normally be able to get into the foreign university, sometimes with two years of regular 4 year university/college (I don't think they accept CC's), they will admit you as a student in the foreign university - at least that is so in Switzerland.

 

So then you are looking at living expenses - and that's where there is real variation among countries....

 

Joan

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Yes, yes, yes.

 

My dd took a 6-week interterm class in her field in Holland after her freshman year. This class led to a summer internship at a relevant institute in Holland. This internship looked REALLY good on her application for a NSF fellowship in grad school. The folks that judge NSF applications for grad students actually return the applications with feedback scribbled on them, and all of dd's readers commented how intrigued they were by this internship. She got the fellowship, so --

 

Yes, go for the interships. Go for the study abroad. Pursue out-of-the-box alternatives!

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This has been a major emphasis of my children's education. With Joan's help GRIN.

Joan, I'm sure you and sahm's helped my son get into the college he wanted, which, by the way, emphasizes travel.

 

nan

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I know 2 people who were Exchange students when they were in High School. Both went to the USA. One from Colombia and one from the Dominican Republic. I believe it changed their lives, permanently, in very positive ways.

 

Working abroad will enhance the resume of anyone applying for a job in a multi national corporation, or applying for a promotion within a multi national. Or, for the government. The son of one of my cousins works for a well known government agency and they are currently overseas, on a 2 year assignment. His career within that agency will always have better possibilities, after the overseas assignment.

 

And, I know a family that is in the UK for 2 years. They are getting killed, financially, but the career of the husband will have wider opportunities in the future.

 

Studying abroad, or, working abroad, changes people and it is a big "plus" on a resume.

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I will like for my kids to do a study abroad while in high school but most of the options I have seen have been quite expensive. Are there any available that will not require us to take remortgage our home?

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I will like for my kids to do a study abroad while in high school but most of the options I have seen have been quite expensive. Are there any available that will not require us to take remortgage our home?

The Rotary Club gives various grants to students who wish to study abroad.

 

The least expensive way to study abroad may involve a direct application to schools within another country. This is tricky though since you will have to find accommodation for your student. Do you have friends or family living elsewhere or who have lived abroad? Their contacts could help.

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I will like for my kids to do a study abroad while in high school but most of the options I have seen have been quite expensive. Are there any available that will not require us to take remortgage our home?

 

We also have heard the Rotary Club is a good way to do this, directly from a number of people who used them. Most of the people I knew growing up who did a high school year abroad did it via AFS, but when we were looking for our children, Rotary Club was more popular. We did it independently, signing my son up directly with a summer language program at a university and then finding housing for him. Kind people here helped us to do this. : ) It was MUCH cheaper this way. Once the school/program was picked, the school itself helped with the rest and TWTM board filled in the gaps. (We had a rather large several month gap lol.) Getting it set up was a bit nerve wracking because we had to sign up for the program first and then find housing second, but it was perfectly do-able.

 

Nan

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Thanks a lot. I will need to check out he rotary clubs around here. We do have family living abroad, mostly Europe so maybe we can start planning and saving. Thanks again

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With Joan's help GRIN.

 

Nan, I think you've given me more ideas than I've given you :-)

 

And I think it's really your flexibility, creativeness, and all kinds of other traits that got him where he is now. :-)

 

Joan

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We also have heard the Rotary Club is a good way to do this, directly from a number of people who used them. Most of the people I knew growing up who did a high school year abroad did it via AFS, but when we were looking for our children, Rotary Club was more popular. We did it independently, signing my son up directly with a summer language program at a university and then finding housing for him. Kind people here helped us to do this. : ) It was MUCH cheaper this way. Once the school/program was picked, the school itself helped with the rest and TWTM board filled in the gaps. (We had a rather large several month gap lol.) Getting it set up was a bit nerve wracking because we had to sign up for the program first and then find housing second, but it was perfectly do-able.

 

Nan

 

I am intrigued by this. We've been looking for something for our daughter (who is only 12, but we figure it's never too early to start researching). Not to hijack, but if you have any info, I'd love to hear how you did this.

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I am intrigued by this. We've been looking for something for our daughter (who is only 12, but we figure it's never too early to start researching). Not to hijack, but if you have any info, I'd love to hear how you did this.

 

 

Well, we began by asking a workmate of my husband to try to find a family to take our son for the summer in exchange for work. That didn't work out, so began asking everyone we knew. No luck. This is a fairly common thing to do, it turns out, so nobody thought it was strange. Somewhere along in there, my son settled on a country and Joan said that universities have summer language programs. My son had been thinking more carefully about the idea and realized that some sort of school structure would be helpful, so we found one that didn't require the student to be a college student. We signed him up (the website was in English) and then set about trying to find housing via a series of emails to people on the university's housing website. It was rather discouraging because we were way too early. We had to wait until close to when he left. Meanwhile, we decided it would be a good idea to maximize his time there and tried to find a family for him to live with for a month or two before classes started. The homeschooling board came through again (nice being an international board!) and found housing for him. As I said, the whole thing was MUCH cheaper than if we had arranged the summer through a US university program. Besides, we couldn't do that because he still was in high school. Sort of. He takes community college classes. We asked about programs there but theirs were mostly in Central America (wrong country). They would have been expensive, anyway.

 

Language programs vary widely. Some are basically luxury vacations for adults with guided tours and cooking classes mixed in with language classes. Many universities have programs. We know people who are au pairs or farm workers (there is a whole organic farm labourer network). We have heard of people who simply have exchanged children for awhile. It seems to be fairly common to send even very young children to relatives for a school year or summer. We know young people who have bummed around Europe with almost nothing but a Eurail pass, sleeping in the train or tenting or staying in youth hostels. You can go on a pilgrimage or a peacewalk. You can look for volunteer opportunities.

 

I think, judging from what friends have said, that if you don't know the language, short stays of a few weeks aren't very useful. The people we know who went for a year (or at least a school year) did come back able to speak the language, but the people we know who went for just a summer came back with only very basic language skills. That is a pretty expensive way to learn basic vocabulary and grammar. On the other hand, immersion is one of the only ways to turn a foreign language learned for school into real, useful language skills. A summer definately can help with that. Even a few weeks can be worth it, if you can find a situation which involves lots of speaking and listening. Knowing that you are going to take a trip is very motivating lol. You can extend the immersion experience, too, by reading and listening and watching movies both beforehand and afterwards, and perhaps you can arrange to skype with new friends or family. How much you get out of the experience seems to depend how much you put into it. If you go determined to speak at every possible opportunity, then you will learn more than if you are shy and just wander around not talking to people. You have to be able to keep people from practising their English on you, also. If you are shy, probably a situation where you are in school or working with constantly chattering small children will be better for you than, say, traveling around by yourself or working on an organic farm.

 

Something to think about - a friend of mine warned me that if you send your college student on an exchange, be aware that they may fall in love and decide to stay there. She and THREE of her siblings had done this and her mother was heartbroken. It is the age when many people meet their future spouses.

 

You might try starting a thread here on the boards. I know there are other people who have done this more than we have.

 

Nan

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About the 'au pair' possibility....it is hard to guarantee that one will have a really good family, that the person won't be lost in a way without support systems....I went to Belgium and the family I had was very caring. But there are some who aren't so 'sympathique'....And it is important that the person is prepared for situations which they won't have encountered at home - probably there are lots of books out there about this kind of thing...

 

For learning a language, being an au pair is better than being a farm laborer...as children tend to be very forgiving if you make language mistakes and you can have 'simple' conversations with lots of practice.

 

I'm not at all an expert about what is out there though as we haven't needed to search; Nan and others know much more...

 

Joan

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Looking at it from a different angle altogether. My children all lived abroad (independent of our family) for 1-2 years before going on to college or other pursuit. (not with high-priced gap year programs) That time matured them, gave them responsibility, made them very independent, helped them become much more aware of what's going on all over the world, helped them realize how back here it's so easy to live in a bubble, gave them a confidence, and made projects from then on feel much smaller and more manageable.

 

So yes, that experience looks good on a resume, but it does something inside of a person too -- gives them a confidence and a global awareness that helps in all areas of life and comes across in lots of different ways, whether in college, in a job interview, and in personal relationships.

 

(Also, as a side note, two of my children came home completely fluent in a second language which thankfully helped get a great scholarship and opened up many other opportunities.)

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I am not saying that studying abroad is right or wrong, I really don't think there is a right or wrong answer on that topic, it is a matter of priorities. Looking back over my career, my degree is in civil engineering. I never had an FEA class or a vibrations class, both of which I used heavily for 8 years of my career. Also to have a couple of other mechanical classes would have been really helpful. I didn't know at the time where my career would go. I never had a hard time because of not studying abroad. I have worked in the US all the time that I wanted to and have worked with people from many different parts of the country. My dh who is also and engineer is the same way. There are possibilities for us to travel overseas because we now know some of the right people to do so and in most cases there would be other engineers from the states.

 

You only have 4 years in college and you have to prioritize what you want to do. I was also married after 3 semesters of college which would have made it much more difficult to travel abroad for educational purposes.

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Some countries are definitely cheaper than others!

 

 

 

It's also worth looking at less well known areas of countries - the living expenses might be a lot lower. Studying at London University, for example, is going to cost you a lot more for living expenses than doing a course in a provincial university, and you may find that a less famous university has a highly-regarded course in your speciality: Southampton for computer studies, for example.

 

Laura

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There is an article in NYTimes yesterday: Foreign Interns head to China

"By immersing themselves in Chinese life, interns also learn about cultural differences firsthand. “Drinking with clients is important in China, while in Europe it isn’t such a big deal,†Mr. Williams said. “And lunch with clients can last for a couple hours.â€

....

“It was amazing, and it blew my expectations away,†Mr. Williams said about his two-month-long stint at a Chinese investment banking firm. “They took me quite seriously, and they thought I was quite an asset. I was working in the company for just a few weeks, and they were throwing stuff at me. It would have taken me one year to get a similar experience in London.â€

....

Ms. Lisek, the Polish finance student, said that there was a stereotype that interns just made photocopies or coffee but that she “had big responsibilities†during her internship in Shanghai, developing financial models for the company’s clients.

.....

He noticed that overseas interns tended to ask questions and give feedback during training sessions, a divergence from the local habit of taking notes and keeping quiet. “We are giving interns work experience in China,†he said, “and they enhance our culture.â€"

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I am not saying that studying abroad is right or wrong, I really don't think there is a right or wrong answer on that topic, it is a matter of priorities.

 

 

I completely agree. That's why I both started and ended the original post with caveats....

 

But there are some positions where it can make all the difference...and then of course we can end up making future choices based on past experiences....While some jobs have an obvious potential international component (getting a position with a multinational), others could end up having one if people were open to it....and it seems like the job market keeps changing as more and more jobs are automated or sent abroad...so I just wanted to put this out there....

 

Joan

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What also jumped out at me is that young westerners are basically paying for the possibility of working for free in the China market...

 

 

The internship looks good on a resume though and the social networking (guanxi 关系)benefits would be there. The interns would likely be able to re-coup their sunk cost quite fast.

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The internship looks good on a resume though and the social networking (guanxi 关系)benefits would be there. The interns would likely be able to re-coup their sunk cost quite fast.

 

Arcadia, I think I was too elliptical...I didn't mean to make a statement about the need to pay; I think this can be quite common for internships even in the US and Europe...It was more that one would have to pay to go to China....It's not that long ago that they were paying us to come and give them advice but now we have to pay to give them advice (in a way, it seems to be mostly the expenses - from the article, it seems that the interns are having a lot of input - so they are giving advice in a way)....

 

Joan

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It was more that one would have to pay to go to China....It's not that long ago that they were paying us to come and give them advice but now we have to pay to give them advice (in a way, it seems to be mostly the expenses - from the article, it seems that the interns are having a lot of input - so they are giving advice in a way)....

 

Joan

 

 

From the article "The fees include visas, orientation, housing in a serviced apartment, local transportation and social events, like networking activities and weekend sightseeing trips. CRCC also provides Chinese-language lessons."

 

Visas can be a paperwork nightmare especially for a three month stay. Palms need to be greased usually. Housing is not cheap either as I am assuming the host companies are all located in the cities. . The agencies of course are in it for a profit. So all in all, the cost does not look that high. I don't think the host company get much if any money. It is more like they profit from the free labour.

 

I used to work for MNCs and they have interns every year. The polytechnic and university undergrads do internship as part of coursework so it is a very common practice. The interns do a full workload, they are suppose to give as much input as any other full time employee. I had done the mentoring job for my ex-company's interns (6 month internship) and it can be tiring as it is on top of whatever workload you already have. Maybe that is why I don't see input = advice.

 

I'm sure China and other countries are still paying good money to listen to distinguished guest speakers from United States and other countries :)

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From the article "The fees include visas, orientation, housing in a serviced apartment, local transportation and social events, like networking activities and weekend sightseeing trips. CRCC also provides Chinese-language lessons."

 

Visas can be a paperwork nightmare especially for a three month stay. Palms need to be greased usually. Housing is not cheap either as I am assuming the host companies are all located in the cities. . The agencies of course are in it for a profit. So all in all, the cost does not look that high. I don't think the host company get much if any money. It is more like they profit from the free labour.

 

I used to work for MNCs and they have interns every year. The polytechnic and university undergrads do internship as part of coursework so it is a very common practice. The interns do a full workload, they are suppose to give as much input as any other full time employee. I had done the mentoring job for my ex-company's interns (6 month internship) and it can be tiring as it is on top of whatever workload you already have. Maybe that is why I don't see input = advice.

 

I'm sure China and other countries are still paying good money to listen to distinguished guest speakers from United States and other countries :)

 

 

You know - it's quite true that when my dh would take on interns - so many times they seemed like so much work to train...sometimes it seemed to take as much work for supervision as they eventually put out...though some were extremely competent and didn't require that...But I'd forgotten that when reading part of the article about the responsibilities that some interns were being given there as well as the comments about the kind of input they were looking for..Ok, in that sense, not advice as in the kind a specialist gives...Have to run...ttyl Joan...

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I am not sure I buy that most people study abroad for a very different cultural experience. Too many people go to relatively safe countries, and the UK is the most popular, which doesn't require any new language skills. I would like to think that most people are trying something new, but most Americans seem to be sticking to the safe and familiar.

 

I do think it is an important skill, but Americans at least have a lot of work to do before they can portray themselves as very international. And a lot of the Americans who go to, say, Japan are Japanese-American, not members of other ethnic groups. I have seen the numbers on who takes AP exams, and a lot of Asian Americans are the ones taking Japanese. Good for them, but it shouldn't make us believe that it's significantly increasing in popularity overall.

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I am not sure I buy that most people study abroad for a very different cultural experience. Too many people go to relatively safe countries, and the UK is the most popular, which doesn't require any new language skills. I would like to think that most people are trying something new, but most Americans seem to be sticking to the safe and familiar.

 

 

There is always a comfort level involved, and the fact that people do not choose radically different cultures may be partly because of this, and partly because of the opportunities in the field. (I am a physicist, and there would be very few countries in the world where a stay would be beneficial from an academic point of view, if I want to be involved in cutting edge research. I could, of course, go somewhere just for the experience, but if I want to tie my stay abroad directly to my education/work, I am limited to a small selection.)

The other problem is a hen/egg type problem. I would imagine the main reason Americans prefer to go to the UK, if they go anywhere, is the sad state of foreign language education. Most US students will not graduate from high school fluent in any foreign language, and going to a country with an unfamiliar language is a pretty high barrier.

This is entirely different in Europe; I graduated from high school fluent in two different foreign languages, and that opens completely different perspectives for study/work abroad. The majority of students/young researchers from my country want to go to the US, and a postdoc abroad is the unspoken requirement for any advancement in academia for a scientist - but then, the language barrier is non existent, because every German science major is fluent in English.

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There is always a comfort level involved, and the fact that people do not choose radically different cultures may be partly because of this, and partly because of the opportunities in the field.

 

I never had the impression that many science students study abroad.

 

I checked. Looks like about 20% of students studying abroad are in some sort of science area. It's clearly dominated by the humanities and social sciences.

 

http://www.iie.org/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors/Data/US-Study-Abroad/Fields-of-Study/2000-11

 

I am not sure Costa Rica or Australia are better known for academic environment than, say, South Korea or Japan. But more students go there. For that matter, why isn't Germany more popular? Speaking as someone with a relative who did go to Germany and become fluent, but became severely depressed during the six month gloomy winters. What groundbreaking research is associated with Italy, besides art? I think it's mostly about comfort, whether physical (nice warm weather and clean/safe) or linguistic.

 

http://www.iie.org/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors/Data/US-Study-Abroad/Leading-Destinations/2009-11

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There is always a comfort level involved, and the fact that people do not choose radically different cultures may be partly because of this, and partly because of the opportunities in the field.

 

I have a friend who is involved in organising for American students coming to a British university. She says that the parents (rather than necessarily the students) are very risk-averse, choosing her university because it is in a picturesque small town far from the richness/complication of big city life.

 

Laura

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I never had the impression that many science students study abroad.

 

That is precisely what I mean. For a science student, there is much less incentive to study abroad because in many fields there will be far fewer opportunities. OTOH, coming as a scientist from Europe, pretty much every scientist who wants to go into academia will have spent time abroad, albeit in most cases after completing a graduate degree.

 

I checked. Looks like about 20% of students studying abroad are in some sort of science area. It's clearly dominated by the humanities and social sciences.

 

See above. Also, what percentage of total students are science students? It is hard to draw any conclusions from the data in your table without having a breakdown of all students into fields. There are vastly more humanities students, so they should make the Lion's share to study abroad students.

 

I am not sure Costa Rica or Australia are better known for academic environment than, say, South Korea or Japan. But more students go there.

 

Familiarity (Costa Rica) and Language (Australia)?

It is very hard getting by with just English in South Korea or Japan.

 

 

For that matter, why isn't Germany more popular? Speaking as someone with a relative who did go to Germany and become fluent, but became severely depressed during the six month gloomy winters.

 

Good question. (But it can't be the winter- after all, there are people living in Oregon where it rains all winter, or in Minnesota where it gets really cold.) Not sure why that is.

 

What groundbreaking research is associated with Italy, besides art? I think it's mostly about comfort, whether physical (nice warm weather and clean/safe) or linguistic.

 

I'd go to Italy for the Art - and honestly, I think every Art and history major should have spent time in Italy!

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That is precisely what I mean.

Oh, I wasn't disagreeing with you at any point, by the way.

 

Also, what percentage of total students are science students? It is hard to draw any conclusions from the data in your table without having a breakdown of all students into fields.

Yeah, I realized that as I was posting but I hadn't found anything better.

 

Familiarity (Costa Rica) and Language (Australia)?

It is very hard getting by with just English in South Korea or Japan.

I think it's warm + fun to be in Costa Rica or Australia. I don't think there's much about Costa Rica that is fmailiar, per se. Australia has that slightly different and yet ultimately pretty comfortable atmosphere. Heck, there are a lot of other countries where people speak English, like, say, Singapore, and students aren't flocking there either.

 

I will try to find better stats. But I think the fact is, most people are not looking for a major challenge. Which ultimately means it's not much of a stretch and they're not necessarily gaining as much as they could.

 

I did find this for statistics students!

http://www.pstat.ucsb.edu/instruction/files/EAP.pdf

 

Here's an interesting graphic on general study abroad

http://www.bestcollegesonline.com/study-abroad

A paper on obstacles for science students, from 2003

http://www.clarku.edu/offices/studyabroad/pdfs/Engineering%20and%20Science%20barriers%20to%20SA.pdf

And this about need for greater diversity, which is more optimistic than I was about where students are going but is not impressed by the majors represented

http://www.iie.org/~/media/Files/Corporate/Membership/StudyAbroad_WhitePaper1.ashx

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Joan - I think of internships as apprenticeships. It used to be that one's father PAID somebody to take you on as an apprentice rather than the other way round. Thinking about it that way makes it easier to accept working with no pay. My husband also has mentored his fair share of interns and discovered that they take work as well as give work. I am so grateful that internships seem to be so common here. They do grunt work in return for something to put on their resume, contacts, a closer look at what is involved with a job and working in general, and, if they are lucky, they learn something useful about actually getting a project done. That seems to be the way it works in my husband's companies, at least. The intern is usually paid, sometimes by the state. They are usually local and live at home. They have access to their own transportation. I guess I can see how if one were going to the other side of the world, one might be willing to pay someone to set up housing and transportation and help get the visa paperwork done. Accomplishing that while going to school full-time might be difficult, if one has a demanding course load? It is interesting to think about, anyway. I think often times US students are missing some key skills, too, like how to use public transportation or how visas work. Even getting a passport is a huge step for some of them.

 

Regentrude - I agree about the chicken and the egg problem. We're doing something fundamental very wrong. Our foreign language students should WANT to try out their language skills. By the time they are in high school, they should be able to have a conversation. Vocabulary could be built up by doing more reading of books. I think both teachers and students don't understand that although it may be very slow at first, if one is diligent with a dictionary, one's vocabulary grows fast, and grows proportionally correctly. One gets extra practice with the most common words. I think the other place we fail miserably is oral skills - listening and speaking. Our public school actually produces students who can speak some Spanish. They do this by banning any English in high school foreign language classes. If one begins a language in high school, the teacher will use some English, but the teacher tries to keep this to a minimum. It is a step up from middle school to high school, but the end result is that there are students who are reading Don Quixote in 11th grade and who can actually speak to people when they take their field trip to Costa Rica (Stripe - lol). The students are encouraged to chat with each other in the language, also. My nieces say that this is really fun and the teacher is there to help. This doesn't just apply to the top students, like my nieces. My oldest, who was far far from being a top student and who started Spanish late and quit early, was willing and able to speak to his Nicaraguan coworkers and was willing to take a trip on his own to Costa Rica. (He picked that country because my niece had just been and could tell him what had been fun to see - hmm... Stripe I think I see a pattern here...) Students aren't coming out of the school fluent, but they are at least able to communicate and less shy about trying than the average US teen. It can be done. It just somehow isn't. It isn't as though we couldn't look at how it is done in other successful countries and follow that pattern, either. I'm sure that is what our school system did. But why don't we?

 

Nan

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Is the lack of science majors because their classes all tend to build on each other? Humanities classes build on each other but not as directly, and what one gains in general by going abroad (as opposed to the content of the classes one takes while there) contributes more directly to the knowledge and skills that one is supposed to be learning for one's major. I always assumed this is why engineers don't do more semester-abroad programs. A major reason my sons picked the colleges they did was that even in engineering, students go abroad, perhaps not for a full semester, but at least for some time. Engineering programs that encouraged this and made it easy weren't that common.

 

Nan

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Our public school actually produces students who can speak some Spanish. They do this by banning any English in high school foreign language classes.

 

 

Very good point. When i was looking for French materials for starting to teach DD, I was appalled by the American school curricula because there was so much English and so little French in those books!

 

It isn't as though we couldn't look at how it is done in other successful countries and follow that pattern, either. I'm sure that is what our school system did. But why don't we?

 

 

Because for most people in this country, learning a foreign language is not a priority. I have had discussions with highly educated people, PhDs from prestigious universities, who were arguing with me that learning a language was unnecessary. I am always astonished when I hear these opinions from people with an educated background (I have come to expect them from people with little education).

To me, it is a reflection of two things: first, the utilitarian approach towards education (what is it good for?) that seems to be common in the US, and second, the prevalent attitude that this is the greatest country on Earth, everybody should, and does ,speak our language, and we should not need to look at "lesser" countries for guidance. (I have been told to go back home if i don't like it here - because I was criticizing an aspect of this society and pointing out that other countries seem to have a better solution for this problem.) So, no, many people do not think we can learn anything from other countries.

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I never had the impression that many science students study abroad.

 

 

There was a previous thread about barriers for Americans applying to study science (for a full undergraduate degree) at UK universities. As I understood it, for a US pupil in a standard high school, it's hard to accumulate enough APs to go directly into the kind of specialised courses offered by UK universities because of the structure of science teaching: one subject per year over the four years. For comparison, someone from the UK would expect to have three or four subjects at roughly good AP level to enter a university course. This is the page for Bristol, which is a good second tier university - note that these are applicants 'who will be considered', so these are minimum entry standards.

 

Of course, coming for a year abroad may well be different.

 

L

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Is the lack of science majors because their classes all tend to build on each other? Humanities classes build on each other but not as directly, and what one gains in general by going abroad (as opposed to the content of the classes one takes while there) contributes more directly to the knowledge and skills that one is supposed to be learning for one's major. I always assumed this is why engineers don't do more semester-abroad programs.

 

I think this is very likely one of the obstacles. While one would think that a class that has lots of formulas should be OK in a foreign language, the problem is that the concepts are difficult to grasp even if they are being taught in one's native language, and must be explained very well. Quantum mechanics is simply difficult to comprehend conceptually already, and hearing the explanations in a foreign language would probably mean zero understanding. Which means student has to retake the course upon return home and can't move on in the sequence, because it would be a prerequisite for the next thing.

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I heard a report on the radio that France wanted to open up universities to more English language instruction, in part to capitalize on international students

 

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/world/proposal-allow-english-french-universities-irks-some

 

 

“The Minister is just trying to loosen the restrictions on the teaching of university classes in English,†says Douglas Yates of the American University in Paris. "This is because the business schools need to teach in English, and scientists need to deal with the scientific community in English.â€

 

If we teach in English, then we will have more foreigners coming here,†he [ Liberation (newspaper) Editor-in-Chief Fabrice Rousselot ] said. "They will absorb French culture and language and take that back home with them when they leave.â€

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To me, it is a reflection of two things: first, the utilitarian approach towards education (what is it good for?) that seems to be common in the US, and second, the prevalent attitude that this is the greatest country on Earth, everybody should, and does ,speak our language, and we should not need to look at "lesser" countries for guidance.

People here speak english or spanish. So the ones taking AP german, french, japanese, chinese would be predominantly native speakers. The ones (non native speakers) taking spanish for world language do so to satisfy California's high school requirements and forget soon after.

 

The high school textbooks here for world/foreign languages do have plenty of english. For Singapore, the second languages textbooks from Kindergarten onwards are written completely in that language with no english.

 

Asia's approach to piblic school education is pretty much utlitarian in nature. However geography probably influence people learning more than one language well. Might be the case for Europe too. My german language teacher was from Netherlands and is certified to teach five languages. She said it is normal in Netherlands to be proficient in many languages.

 

I do get some of the atitude you mentioned around here, which is why people tend to rent or buy in expat enclaves. I actually encoutered that atitude with my local school board members.

 

ETA:

My alma mater has MOU for one semester exchange programmes for quite a few universities. Engineering does the exchange programme for 3rd year undergrads.

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I never had the impression that many science students study abroad.

 

Since science classes are arranged so one is a pre-req for another, it is sometimes quite challenging for science / engineering majors to take a semester away.

 

Some American colleges have tried to remedy this by working with one specific university abroad so that a set of specific science classes taken at that university will be equivalent to a set of classes in the American U that is arranging the set-up. (Washington & Lee has a reciprocal arrangement with St. Andrews for chemistry majors, for example.)

 

I am dimly aware of a few other colleges that have a similar arrangement; it is something to look for when checking out colleges.

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Another thought: When I was a high student in the Midwest--back in the dark ages before APs were emphasized--it seemed that some of the best and brightest spent time abroad as an exchange student. In recent years, I have met few students who have done this precisely because of AP classes and other standardized testing regimes. One of our former babysitters had to spend an extra year at the local high school when the school would not accept credits from the program she attended in Switzerland! They could not do "end of course" testing. At that point the local high school offered Spanish and French but not German. So she found an immersion program abroad. I was appalled that our local school--mediocre at best--would not consider giving her credit. Apparently they had no way to compare her Swiss program with NC standards. I would like to tell you that this was a single episode but it played out again with one of my son's friends studied in France. Sigh...

 

As we look for ways for our homeschool students to stand out on their college apps, perhaps having study experiences abroad might be considered as a way to help our applicants look more engaged in the world! Many of the pricey private high schools make sure that their students go abroad--but it is for a week here or two weeks there. A semester or a year can be more meaningful.

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Because for most people in this country, learning a foreign language is not a priority. I have had discussions with highly educated people, PhDs from prestigious universities, who were arguing with me that learning a language was unnecessary. I am always astonished when I hear these opinions from people with an educated background (I have come to expect them from people with little education).

To me, it is a reflection of two things: first, the utilitarian approach towards education (what is it good for?) that seems to be common in the US, and second, the prevalent attitude that this is the greatest country on Earth, everybody should, and does ,speak our language, and we should not need to look at "lesser" countries for guidance. (I have been told to go back home if i don't like it here - because I was criticizing an aspect of this society and pointing out that other countries seem to have a better solution for this problem.) So, no, many people do not think we can learn anything from other countries.

 

 

Sad. How on earth do they think their "greatest country on earth" is going to stay that way? I love my country but that doesn't mean I can't see that there is room for improvement. That doesn't mean that we are the only ones who have good ideas or can figure out how to do things well. How insular! Yikes!

 

Nan

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How interesting this conversation has gotten but I have a meeting to attend. (the first French homeschool meeting for all the French-speaking part of Switzerland! We've had small ones, mostly English speaking, before for years...just saying to show how behind things are here)

 

Stripe - a couple of years ago I got to talk with a recruiter from a German university who said that they were starting classes for foreigner students (like an exchange program I think)...but somehow these courses weren't going to be like what the German students would get as the foreigners would be paying, and I think, (regentrude please correct me, German students don't have to pay - at least not the high fees like in the US, probably 1-2000per year like here in CH?). And when my one son mentioned that he was thinking of trying to exchange from CH to Germany for his studies, the recruiter looked surprised and said something which gave us the impression that the schools here were better somehow, so he didn't understand why someone would want to go from CH to DE. (He was trying to recruit foreign/wealthy/international student for the paying classes, not Swiss for the regular classes). So with overcrowded national schools, it might not always be an interesting option (I think this is true in places where there aren't quotas or competitive entry requirements) to study in that country....In the Netherlands, if you meet the criteria for entry, you still have a lottery to get a place. Here in CH, if you are a national and have done the right matu, they basically have to let you in (for foreigners I think there can be more criterial - eg a higher grade on their national exams than they would need to attend university in their own country).....

 

In general, about science studies...the countries where there is not the deep capitalist mentality, there is not that competition and drive that you find in the US. A math professor I talked with had done a Sabbatical or some kind of exchange with a well-known school in the US and mentioned how much they worked...how he was never at home...compared to here, where it is a 'job' and you invest your time, etc, but it is not like you are going to have huge financial gains or great notoriety for making cutting edge discoveries (talking about overall). So the mentality is quite different and permeates the university system....

 

Perhaps that is why they treat their science students pretty well in terms of internships (to try to encourage more people?)...ds2 got great pay as an intern - almost a regular salary...whereas ds1, nonscience major had the kind of internships that don't pay (ie parents are paying living costs - well actually we still get a monthly child allocation for children in studies/non or low paying internships up to the age of 25 yo - of $400+/month - I just say that to show a little of the social differences in attitudes towards education here).

 

Lots more to discuss but have to run,

Joan

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but somehow these courses weren't going to be like what the German students would get as the foreigners would be paying, and I think, (regentrude please correct me, German students don't have to pay - at least not the high fees like in the US, probably 1-2000per year like here in CH?

 

That is correct. The fees are nominal, maybe 500 euros, and even about that there is much whining and groaning.

 

And when my one son mentioned that he was thinking of trying to exchange from CH to Germany for his studies, the recruiter looked surprised and said something which gave us the impression that the schools here were better somehow, so he didn't understand why someone would want to go from CH to DE. (He was trying to recruit foreign/wealthy/international student for the paying classes, not Swiss for the regular classes). So with overcrowded national schools, it might not always be an interesting option (I think this is true in places where there aren't quotas or competitive entry requirements) to study in that country.

 

Honestly: *I* would not send my kids to study at a German university. I wrote about this elsewhere; with the Bologna system, the quality of the education has declined dramatically compared to the diploma system before.

Of course, the situation is different for somebody who is actually a foreigner and wants to do this primarily for experiencing life in another country - for that, the schools are quite good enough.

 

 

In general, about science studies...the countries where there is not the deep capitalist mentality, there is not that competition and drive that you find in the US. A math professor I talked with had done a Sabbatical or some kind of exchange with a well-known school in the US and mentioned how much they worked...how he was never at home...compared to here, where it is a 'job' and you invest your time, etc, but it is not like you are going to have huge financial gains or great notoriety for making cutting edge discoveries (talking about overall). So the mentality is quite different and permeates the university system....

 

This has not been my experience with Germany compared to the US. Our German colleagues in physics work equally hard, and often have a higher teaching load and usually more administrative duties than professors in the US. When I did my PhD at a German institute, the professor's motto was that the lights do not ever go out in a scientific institute, i.e. people are supposed to at all hours. And we did. (Once the professor stopped by with his wife on Christmas morning to get something, and they found a grad student at work...boy, did she light into him. She called him a slave driver, LOL)

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This has not been my experience with Germany compared to the US. Our German colleagues in physics work equally hard, and often have a higher teaching load and usually more administrative duties than professors in the US. When I did my PhD at a German institute, the professor's motto was that the lights do not ever go out in a scientific institute, i.e. people are supposed to at all hours. And we did. (Once the professor stopped by with his wife on Christmas morning to get something, and they found a grad student at work...boy, did she light into him. She called him a slave driver, LOL)

 

Interesting about administrative duties for professors...which makes me think of another difference over here which you can probably talk about, regentrude, which is the lack of hand-holding in university compared to the US (where you tend to get more help since you are paying so much more for the education)

 

I'm pretty sure there's a difference between Switzerland and Germany (but were you in an ex East university? and is it the same all over Germany? I had the impression that East German scientists were hard-working) in terms of how much time people are putting in (but I'll ask ds2 who has now been in both Swiss tech universities for his observations)

 

Certainly in business, esp banking, things are changing as more and more companies are moving in the American direction of business management, with the last years of economic problems affecting the sense of competition and how people are working. (Before so many people would go home with a 1-2 hour lunch break, which still happens more in France, but is decreasing here). With jobs so scarce for young people, there will probably be even more changes (..My dh had a German boss though who so rarely worked overtime....He got there early - and left early. And another German with whom I'd discussed working hours had a very fixed view of not working overtime. Coming from the US where it is so common for professionals to work overtime, at least sometimes, it was a real surprise to hear his views, So I must admit that I'd started to think of it as a German perspective, in addition to hearing stories of Swiss German working habits. And then there are the French who can sometimes be militant about their 35 hour work week......)

 

Joan

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Interesting about administrative duties for professors...which makes me think of another difference over here which you can probably talk about, regentrude, which is the lack of hand-holding in university compared to the US (where you tend to get more help since you are paying so much more for the education)

 

Yes, there is a big difference. In Germany, success is the student's responsibility. Every student who passes the Abitur can attend a university, with few restrictions as to subject (there are increasingly more restrictions now, but there used to be virtually none before Bologna). the universities could not choose their own students. The first two semesters were pretty much a weedout of students with lack of aptitude and work ethic.

The university does not really have any interest in retention of weak students - not like in the US, where they are paying customers and schools bend over backwards trying to coax along the weakest students.

 

(This difference in support level, btw, is not the reason that I would not consider a German university for my kids. I find it very appealing to treat students like grownups instead of handholding them to the degree we are required to in the US.)

 

I'm pretty sure there's a difference between Switzerland and Germany (but were you in an ex East university? and is it the same all over Germany? I had the impression that East German scientists were hard-working) in terms of how much time people are putting in

 

I was in East Germany, but at least in my field, there is no difference.

 

..My dh had a German boss though who so rarely worked overtime....He got there early - and left early. And another German with whom I'd discussed working hours had a very fixed view of not working overtime. Coming from the US where it is so common for professionals to work overtime, at least sometimes, it was a real surprise to hear his views,

 

"Overtime" is not a concept that exists for physics researchers. They are all in it because they love it. This may be quite different in other disciplines, I would not know. But physics seems to breed workaholics all over the world.

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