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Study abroad fair explores foreign experience

Rebecca Bravo
Staff Writer

The college experience is something that will expose you to different people, lectures, professors and situations.

Now imagine getting a chance to do this for a semester in another country or across seas.

A study abroad fair was organized last Thursday in Sneaky Park to inform students of all the different countries they have an opportunity to study in.

Veterans of the study abroad experience were encouraging other students to follow in their footsteps.

“This is a complete immersion into another culture. When you travel to other countries as an adult you’re just a tourist,” said Walter Mansilla, who spent six months in Brazil.

Mansilla explained to other students that he stayed with a host family and grew so close to them that they might fly to California to attend his graduation.

He also learned how to speak Portuguese and learned a lot about a different culture.

However, many students have their doubts about being alone in a foreign country for such a long period of time.

“So many students are scared to go study abroad. It’s like your being thrown in to an ocean and you’re a canoe,” said Rita Thakur, associate dean of the College of Business and Public Administration.

For those who want just a taste of living in a foreign country there are programs to visit countries during the January Interim at La Verne. These trips are 10 to 12 days long and students travel and site see together in countries such as Japan, Greece and Italy, or Spain.

“This is the starting point for students, the next step is to study abroad a semester,” Thakur said, “I want to take students and show them another world so they don’t want to stop traveling.”

Students will not only learn about a different cultures and different customs but they will also have a greater understanding of foreigners.

Thakur explained how by studying abroad you get to be that foreigner who has no family or support system in the country and are not fluent in the language.

You will have a better understanding of foreigners who come to the United States and the struggles they go through.

La Verne offers a home to students across the globe, who in turn can also take advantage of the study abroad programs.

Saudi Arabian exchange student Mohammed Alsulayman visited the fair, even though he plans on staying at La Verne for three years to study and improve his English but would not mind traveling.

“I came from Saudi Arabia to get masters in business, but I like to go to Spain,” Alsulayman said.

Alsulayman feels he could take advantage of these traveling opportunities that are not always available in his home country.

Students who had traveled bragged about all the different experiences they had and highly recommended the complete immersion into an unknown world.

“It opens your eyes to a new culture and a different way of life,” said Genadio Pulido who spent a semester in Spain.

Rebecca Bravo can be reached at rebecca.bravo@laverne.edu.

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