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Are Academic Programs Abroad Being Affected by International Affairs? March 30, 2011

Filed under: Spring 2011 Stories — kswige1 @ 5:45 pm

By: Kristen Swiger

-Baton Rouge

Academic Programs Abroad is an opportunity that many LSU students take advantage of during their time at school, but many don’t take into account how international issues affect the program.

The study abroad program offers students the chance to go virtually anywhere in the United States to study for a semester or a year at other universities, as well as internationally to other countries.  Summer programs are also available to students whose schedules during the semester simply don’t allow them to take time off.

According to Harald Leder, academic programs abroad director, the most visited continent tends to be Europe, but the upward trend soon reversed shortly after the economic crisis. He said that the program has since been rebounding, but it’s still too early to tell how much it will fully recover.

While the economic recession is an obvious concern to study abroad, what kind of toll has the recent turmoil in places like Libya, Egypt and Japan been taking?

“The students who were in Japan through our program are now on semester break, and they are back safely in the United States to recover.  As for Egypt, we have an American university in Cairo, and things are developing and quieting down to make way for more business opportunities,” said Leder.

Leder also said that LSU would never send students to countries where protests were taking place, such as Libya.  Countries with travel warnings are also taken off the list as potential study abroad destinations.

LSU students had their own opinions and concerns regarding visiting other countries.

Paul Arceneaux, biology junior, said that he would want to study abroad despite the current international problems.  “It’s a great educational opportunity.  You’re witnessing history in the making,” he said.

Kisa Valenti, physics senior, said that the events would influence her decision to study abroad, but for different reasons.  “I wouldn’t go to countries in upheaval like northern Africa or the Middle East for safety reasons, and I obviously don’t want to go to Japan, because they are currently dealing with major problems.  With that being said, I wouldn’t be scared to travel to other places,” Valenti said.

Leder said that every country is closely monitored before the program decides to incorporate it into the list of options.   So, far there are no concerns regarding lack of safety on other countries.

“We’re here to monitor and help, and we have parent orientations where we talk to parents and students.  Everyone has open communication channels, and they know how we operate. That has serviced us pretty well,” said Leder.

In 2009, the program accommodated 515 students and 612 students the year before.  Study abroad saw that number decrease to 499 students just this past year in 2010.  Leder said that he hopes to maintain the numbers this year, but they are not likely to increase.

To find out your options for study abroad programs, email studyabroad.lsu.edu to set up an appointment.

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