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Opinion

Students should look into an exchange opportunity

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February 12, 2010

This time last year, I had the privilege to be sitting on some of the most beautiful coastline in the entire world. At California State University-Monterey Bay, California Highway 1’s epic scenery is a mere 10 minutes away from campus. Rugged coastline meets the majestic ocean in what can only be justified by seeing it with your own eyes. I would not trade the months I had in California for anything.

From a roommate and friends that became like family, to visiting everything from the Golden Gate Bridge to the set of “The Office,” my exchange semester in California was unforgettable. I want you to have an experience like mine, and though you may have some preconceived notions about exchange/travelling abroad, the least you can do is look into it. I can’t stress how important I believe a simple visit to our Global Connections office is here on campus.

What is Global Connections? I don’t doubt that most of you have at least a general understanding of what Global Connections is all about. In their own words, Global Connections wants you know that “you’ll never have a better opportunity for you to explore the world than now.”

It’s true. Being in college, we have so many opportunities right in front of us. I’m surprised that Global Connections doesn’t constantly have a fl ooded office of people streaming out from their doors, because growing up in the Midwest, I’d think it’d be rather natural for most people to want to travel to new places and experience new things.

Personally, I’m angered that I’m not some pompous billionaire who can throw his money to the wind (ok, that’s not entirely true, I don’t want to grow up to be a professional shmuck), because I truly want to see everything. I wish I could spend the afternoon in the Valley of Kings, and chill under the Northern Lights in Alaska at night. Though Global Connections can’t quite offer you deal along those lines, they sure can offer you something that will stick with you the rest of your life, and that’s an experience.

I will specifically talk about the National Student Exchange, since that is the program I personally have experience with. Let it be known that applying for NSE, signing up for classes/applying for transfer credits is an extremely easy and smooth process. I figured it would be good to plug NSE right about now seeing as how the application deadline is March 1st. Though not every single school in the nation is applicable for exchange, there are schools in every state that you can apply for (including Hawaii, Alaska, and even Puerto Rico and Guam).

For specifics, you can go and talk to the helpful, friendly, and informed Global Connections staff. Seriously, don’t be shy, get your butt in there and ask some questions. I feel like that’s the biggest thing that is keeping people from learning about these exchange programs, and it’s something that can be overcome so easily.

For one of my writing classes last fall semester, we had to do a survey pertaining to something that we thought should be promoted on campus, I again went with Global Connections. Almost across the board, people basically said “hell yeah I want to travel.” Why aren’t more people doing it then? All in all, with the meal plan and housing included, I think I spent about an extra 800 dollars to spend a semester in one of the most beautiful areas in California. The program is set up so that you pay your own in state tuition, and in my case, I just had to pay CSUMB’s housing and meal plans. Considering some people will pull an extra couple hundred dollars out of pocket just to do a spring break trip, I think it’s worth the little extra to spend a whole four months in the paradise of your choice.

So, please, for your own sake, head to the Global Connections office in Hagestad Hall. You’ve all walked on by going to get your textbooks for the semester, so do yourself a favor and turn your curiosity into something that you’ll never forget. Ever.