CSUN’s study abroad programs cost similarly to campus programs

Nikki Erinakis

Juliet Aylmer pointed to a picture above her desk. It is a black and white picture of a couple kissing in England. Behind them the popular clock tower, Big Ben, is easily distinguished.

The couple met while studying abroad in England, Aylmer said. The man in the picture is a CSUN student who studied abroad in England and met a French resident.

This is one of the many stories shared by Juliet Aylmer, the Study Abroad and National Student Exchange Advisor. There is a whole world out there but it is up to the students to get out of their comfort zone and discover the world, Aylmer said.

The International Exchange and Student Center offers students an opportunity to take their studies abroad. The California State University study abroad program allows students to study in another country for one academic year.

Students through the CSU study abroad program can study their major in Chile, Denmark, Taiwan, South Africa, Canada and other countries. Financial aid and scholarship money is available for use when students study abroad as well.

“There are scholarships. This is what I press on people again, again and again,” Aylmer said. “If I only had five bucks for every student that said they didn’t apply because they didn’t think they would get one.”

She said that it is a consistent problem where not enough students apply for a scholarship.

“If you do not put in the effort you will not find out,” Aylmer said.

Aylmer said the difference between going through a CSU study abroad program and going through an outside study abroad service is financial aid and resident credit. Students who study abroad through the CSU program can still use their financial aid money to help with the cost.

With an outside study abroad service financial aid does not apply and students will not receive credit that will be counted toward their major as resident credit. With an outside study abroad service, the units received abroad are considered transfer units.

Aylmer said students are often intimidated to spend a year abroad but it is a learning experience they will never forget. She said a student in the past approached her wanting to study abroad but was not confident about the experience.

Aylmer said when the student came back from her study abroad she thought she was speaking to a new person. She said she noticed she was more confident and open minded about exploring the world on her own.

Christian Villamil, Animation major, studied in Tokiwa, Japan through CSUN’s study abroad program. He said he knew Japanese vaguely when he first signed up for the program and afterwards noticed his language skills improved during his year abroad.

Villamil said it was not a lonely experience because the program links students with other students going to the same location. Villamil said he enjoyed his experience but there was a downside to his trip.

He said studying abroad was more expensive than he expected because he did not consider the exchange rate of the country he was visiting.

For the people who are not as comfortable with leaving the country for a year for an educational experience, CSUN also offers the National Student Exchange program. The NSE program is available to students for a semester or a whole academic year. Students who participate in this program can study in a different state, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and even Canada.

Aylmer said she finds that students can still learn a lot about studying in a different state or region.

“Some of them (states) are so different than California,” Aylmer said. “It’s like a different country. The only downside to the national exchange program is that there is an application fee.”

The department tries to ensure that the students who apply will most likely qualify before paying the application fee. She said many students come in with the idea that they will study abroad and end up deciding to enroll in the National Student Exchange program instead.

The program tries to ease the process of emersion into a new environment for students.

“Once they find out they have been accepted, they go through an orientation process and past participants will give them inside knowledge,” Aylmer said.