A Home Away From Home
Crossing borders and cultures for the chance to enrich one's global perspective through education.
By Rosaria Rielly
With departments and study abroad companies working to curate the most worthwhile and memorable programs to be considered in a growing competitive field, studying abroad is no longer an inaccessible option for colleges to offer students. Although these programs have many opportunities for classes and experiences for students, there is one daunting component which causes speculation and discussion for parents: the cost.
It may seem outrageous to think of spending a whole semester of one’s college career in another country when a school in the United States may offer the same courses. Many would think of choosing to go abroad on a school break instead, such as the summer or winter, but the truth about the program costs may be surprising.
Maria Fixell, Hofstra University’s assistant provost for Study Abroad and Internationalization, is in charge of helping students find the program which makes the most sense for their major and financial status.
“Whenever I am addressing parents for a financial point of view, I advise them to have their child go study for a semester as financial aid is included and it would cost about the same as spending the semester here at Hofstra,” said Fixell.
One of the most popular semester-long programs offered by Hofstra is the partnership exchange with The University of Amsterdam, where 12 students are sent each year, six per semester. Amsterdam has 95 school partnerships, with Hofstra being one of the sister schools.
“They are looking for sophisticated and brilliant students who come with engagement being the most important thing,” said Fixell. “Everyone who applies is very very busy and involved on campus.”
It might be hard for students to leave the organizations they are actively involved in, but there are new opportunities to be gained through studying abroad for the semester. Students who choose to study abroad are rewarded with the experiences they learn, however they are taking difficult risks.
Fixell taught classes before working in the Study Abroad Office, and would tell her students “look at what this student [an international student] is doing. It is so difficult [getting] students to travel for three weeks, let alone a whole semester. Those students who come … are so hardworking and driven.”
Moving internationally requires someone to be a determined learner and ready to grow from the cultural differences associated with the different country. This move is ideal for someone who wants to make a difference.
There are many programs available for students to study internationally for their college curriculum instead of traveling for only a semester. Sophomore Rachel Kong is an international student from Hong Kong currently studying at Hofstra’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication. All communications are required to complete at least three credits of interning. These internships are often unpaid, yet students still have to pay for the credits whether they are included in the semesterly tuition or separately during the winter or summer breaks.
“It is hard being a school of communications major because technically I am only allowed to be here [in the United States] for school and am not legally allowed to be working, including with internships,” said Kong. “This is why I might try to find one [an internship] back at home in Hong Kong for the summer and try to get the credits transfered over, or to at least have some experience I can put on my resume.”
Hofstra is home to many international students from countries around the globe with hopes to stay in the United States after graduation. To help enrich students and professors, and to deepen the international curriculum, Hofstra is implementing a new international program for the start of the 2019- 2020 school year. This program, called INTO, is already implemented in many international universities and will be bringing in about 900 international students to Hofstra.
These students will only be staying for a semester, taking some language and immersion classes besides their major courses. After this time they may have the opportunity to be enrolled by Hofstra full time.
However, they will most likely have to return to their home country, with new groups of students coming with each semester.
International students will have the option to enroll in this program when applying to Hofstra which will provide them with enriching additional classes for learning english, reading, writing, and listening skills to help with their education. There will also be additional programs offered to have these students become involved with organizations on campus to make friends and become a part of student life.
The program will help to offset the amount of money Hofstra is losing to SUNY’s and other state schools offering lower tuition. With little to no scholarships being offered, international students do not receive the same amount of financial aid as students who reside in the United States. With the INTO program being an additional cost there will be more money being brought into Hofstra in exchange for an increasingly enriched international perspective.
Catherine MacCarthy is a junior who works with the global mentorship program where they tutor international students and help them adjust to living in the United States. She believes the program will be a great asset to them.
“I try to be friends with as many of the international students as I can since I understand how difficult it is for these students,” said MacCarthy.
“Sometimes they are sitting in class unable to take notes because they don’t have the necessary English skills to listen and write what is being discussed. Just talking with a student and helping with note taking or study groups can make a huge difference to these students and help them succeed in their classes.”
For Hofstra students still interested in studying abroad for a school break they would have to pay the cost of Hofstra’s tuition for the credits on top of the cost of the program.
“If you look at the January Hofstra based programs [which are three weeks long], the tuition is identical but it depends on the program costs,” said Fixell. “They are all within the mid $3000 range, with none exceeding $4000, and some slightly higher than others. In the summer the programs which are 5 weeks are high in the $4000 to mid $5000 range for program costs.”
These programs include roundtrip flights from John F. Kennedy International Airport, hotel stays for the duration of the trip, group breakfast and dinner, transportation to and from the airport, and for group excursions.
One of the issues with studying during these breaks is the rising cost of the trips due to Hofstra’s tuition being raised yearly by about $250 to $300 per credit. Every January Fixell runs the Hofstra in Venice program, which remains to be the most successful winter program despite the significant drop in numbers since its beginning in the 1990s. This past January, there were 19 participants, where there used to be numbers exceeding 60.
“The program was $3699 this past year  and if I go through the brochures the program cost has remained the same throughout the years,” said Fixell. “Tuition is a serious problem and I’m not sure how the summer programs are going to pan out in the future. There are so many different options of companies to work with and have credits transfered, Hofstra classes are not the only option.”
Having a globalized world brings opportunities for programing pertaining to a variety of majors and interests for students to explore. As the world becomes more connected globally, most employers are looking at student resumes to show they have experience working and studying internationally. Many jobs now have a global component requiring employees to understand cultural differences associated with internationally run businesses, meaning they must adapt working strategies to the different standards.