Berkeley Study Abroad offers summer program in Havana, Cuba

“Berkeley Study Abroad offers summer program in Havana, Cuba”

by Ishaan Srivastava via “The Daily Californian


After a historic resumption of U.S.–Cuba diplomatic relations and a relaxation of bilateral tensions, Berkeley Study Abroad is now offering a summer study abroad program in Havana, Cuba.

The course provides students with the opportunity to spend one month exploring the geographical and historical transformation of Cuba from colonial times to the present, all while living and studying in “the spirited capital of Cuba.”

“Cuba is — and has always been — a marvelous and fascinating country,” said program director Elizabeth Vasile. “It is a great place to see rapid transformation taking place.”

Vasile, who received her doctorate in geography from UC Berkeley and now conducts research in Latin America, has been leading tours of Cuba for about five years on behalf of organizations such as National Geographic. She approached the geography department chair and study abroad office last year with plans for the program, and received swift approval.

“Unlike a traditional classroom, we’re going to be going out in the field and observing the landscape for ourselves,” Vasile said, adding that her two primary objectives for the program are to instill in students a nuanced understanding of the complexity of Cuban history and the ability to critically observe the world around them.

Peer institutions such as Harvard College and Princeton University have offered similar programs even before President Barack Obama announced his intention to renew diplomatic ties with Cuba. The campus had previously offered a similar program that lasted from 1999 to 2003.

Other organizations such as the travel agency Marazul — which will be providing logistical assistance for UC Berkeley’s program this summer — have been organizing visits to Cuba since 1979.

Members of UC Berkeley’s faculty have maintained professional ties to Cuba despite longstanding diplomatic tensions. Anthropology professor Nancy Scheper-Hughes fondly remembers having invited Cuban medical professionals for a seminar in the early ‘90s, noting that then-Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien was happy to write a letter officially inviting her guests onto campus.

“He even asked whether we could invite Fidel Castro,” Scheper-Hughes said. “That would probably have been a step too far.”

According to Scheper-Hughes, such programs provide students with an opportunity to experience Cuba “before it becomes totally neoliberalized.”

Despite a history of bilateral political animosity, both Scheper-Hughes and Vasile said student safety would not be of exceptional concern in Cuba. Kaylee Yoshii, a campus senior who has visited Cuba multiple times on research trips,noted that the attitude toward Americans in Cuba is welcoming despite the decades of diplomatic hostility.


STEM Students Study Abroad for Social Good

“STEM Students Study Abroad for Social Good”

by David F. Fougere via “3P

Engineering majors study abroad in United Arab Emirates.


This graduation season, while enjoying the commencement speeches full of inspirational words for students heading out into the world, ready to make it a better place, let’s consider this heartening fact: There’s a good chance they’ll make good on their promises. Forty percent of bachelor’s degrees earned by men and 29 percent earned by women are now in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), according to the National Student Clearinghouse. These are the innovators – the engineers, scientists and researchers – who will solve the world’s problems and lead us into the future.

Hard sciences as curricula for triple-bottom-line career paths? Absolutely.

At its highest level, the STEM philosophy is about improving quality of life and the health of the planet. This is a mantle that’s perfect for Generation Z, a cohort encompassing today’s high school and college students that is increasingly passionate about the needs of the developing world. With STEM degrees in hand, these soon-to-be professionals hold the knowledge and technologies needed to solve real-world problems and improve standards of living — not just in the United States, but also around the world.

More than 7 billion people around the world rely on STEM to solve rapidly increasing problems related to climate change, contamination, and food and water shortages. Combating these global issues requires the ability to see from multiple perspectives and the skills to bridge cultural divides.

As early as grade school, students are learning about the international nature of STEM efforts, from global warming to sustainability, and about the destinations far beyond U.S. borders that are leading the way. Take renewable energy: Denmark leads in wind power, Iceland in geothermal energy, Germany in sustainable architecture, Japan in solar, Costa Rica in hydroelectric power, Africa in rural water management and irrigation – the list goes on and on.

What it all comes down to is the fact that, to be cutting-edge or even just competitive, STEM works best with an international understanding of research and how to apply technologies and ideas within a cultural framework to make them most effective.

Increasingly, college and high school students are discovering that the best way to gain this critical international understanding while honing their skills in their chosen field is to combine their STEM curriculum with study abroad.

Take a look at a few examples. STEM students today can study conservation and marine biology in the island nation of Bonaire, home to one of the Earth’s most diverse and pristine marine habitats. But make no mistake; this is no beach vacation. Students on a tropical marine ecology and conservation program go on 35 scientific dives as part of their coursework. They collaborate on research projects with the Bonaire National Marine Park and other institutions, then present their findings to the public. Students even submit their findings to the student scientific journal, Physis: Journal of Marine Science. All this while immersing themselves in the local culture and deepening their appreciation for the impact their work can have.

Alternatively, engineering students might opt to spend a semester in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Home to incredible engineering feats, like the Burj Khalifa (the tallest tower in the world) and Palm Jumeirah (a man-made, palm tree-shaped archipelago), the UAE is the perfect place to learn about engineering, the Arab world and the global economy. There, students refine their Arabic language skills, and witness the daily intersection of traditional values and modern realities firsthand. They also go on excursions that illuminate their understanding of the region, alter their perspective of the world and match experiential learning with coursework. . . . .


Abroad101 releases student review rankings

“Abroad101 releases student review rankings”

by Sara Custer via “The Pie News

Students from the US have ranked courses in Costa Rica, Australia and Ireland as the best study abroad programmes in the Abroad101 2014 Study Abroad Rankings. The review website also announced listings of students’ top choices for summer programmes, foodie cities and budget destinations.

Now in their 4th year, the Abroad101 Study Abroad Rankings looked at thousands of reviews for 1,400 programmes.

The rankings are based on thousands of online evaluations of 1,472 programmes made by students under the direction of their academic advisors and hosted by Abroad101.

This year, Sol Education Abroad’s Study Abroad & Spanish Immersion in Heredia Costa Rica received the largest number of top reviews from students followed by The Education Abroad Network’s Gold Coast-Bond University scheme in Australia and a direct enrolment programme at the American College Dublin.

“The rankings give some insight into who’s got nice programmes and maybe gets students thinking a little bit differently rather than just the traditional top destinations or top providers”

Also in the top 10 are three smaller independent programmes in Italy and a semester programme in Romania.

Mark Shay, CEO of Abroad101 said it is encouraging to see students appreciate non-traditional destinations and programmes. “There’s this unique little programme that goes into non-urban Romania and students get very immersed in the local community and seem to have a very powerful experience,” he told The PIE News.

“It’s nice to see some unique programmes like that really give students a memorable experience.”

The top-ranked summer programmes also showed that students value programmes outside of Western Europe where traditionally the most popular programmes have been based.

Traveling Study in Ghana through provider ThisWorldMusic got top marks from students while Sustainability and Renewable Energy Abroad with the Green Program in Iceland was ranked second. Hanyang University’s Seoul International Summer School is also in the top five.

“The rankings give some insight into who’s got nice programmes and maybe gets students thinking a little bit differently rather than just the traditional top destinations or top providers,” commented Shay.

“Our list has a nice range of small independent schools, small providers, big providers and for-profit and non-for profit players.”

Iceland was ranked the Top Non-Traditional Country while students considered the Gold Coast in Australia the Most Liveble City. Thailand won the accolades for Top Food and Budget-Friendly Country.



Furman University



  • Furman University


Nevada State College: Study Abroad in Ireland

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Nevada State College:

Study Abroad in Ireland


  • Nevada State College
  • School of Education
  • Marino Institute of Education


“Texas A&M Moves Up Among Leaders In U.S. Study Abroad Programs”

“Texas A&M Moves Up Among Leaders In U.S. Study Abroad Programs”

via “TAMU Times

Texas A&M University now ranks as one of the top institutions in the nation in the number of students studying abroad, according to a study conducted by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The report shows Texas A&M now ranks 13thnationally in having its students take advantage of opportunities to study in other countries and, in the process, broaden their cultural and related perspectives. Texas A&M placed 21st in a comparable previous study.

“The 2013 Open Doors report, which tracks study abroad and international student activity . . . .”


“WUSTL Staff Encouraged to Apply for Weeklong Study-Abroad Program”

“WUSTL Staff Encouraged to Apply for Weeklong Study-Abroad Program”

by Julie Kennedy via “Washington University in St. Louis”

Bill Larson wants to spread the word about Washington University in St. Louis’ Global Diversity Overseas Seminar program (GDOS).

“I have already encouraged everyone to apply to the program this year,” said Larson, Edison Theatre operations manager and a member of the 2013 GDOS cohort, which traveled to Santiago, Chile, in June. “It was an amazing experience on so many levels.” 

Local College Offers 25 Study Abroad Programs

“Local College Offers 25 Study Abroad Programs”

by Angie Sharp via

Students at Augustana College are being encouraged to take some of their classes off campus… way off campus.  On Sunday, October 6th, 2013, Augustana held its annual Study Abroad Fair on the Rock Island campus. The College offers 25 different study abroad programs as well as a few exchange programs. . . . “

What does your Local College offer?

“Study Abroad Part Two: France”

“Study Abroad Part Two: France”

by Casey Harper via “The Hillsdale Collegian”

Photo by KEI841 via Deviant Art–Photo not attached to original article. Click image to be taken to the artist’s website.

“Looming above the students is the Eiffel Tower. The structure is iconic but also serves as a reminder that they are finally in the country and culture they love so much. Hillsdale students spent the summer taking classes in France to polish their language skills and experience the French culture. “Studying in Paris enabled me to connect my affinity for French literature and history to actual French people,” Junior Jenna Adamson said. . . “

“CMU to Offer First Special Education Study Abroad Program”

“CMU to Offer First Special Education Study Abroad Program”

by Neil Rosan via “CM Life”

“Central Michigan University will offer its first study abroad program focused on special education next summer. The three-week program will feature three different classes during10 days in Denmark to give students a perspective of social services in other countries. “I think the combination of the country we are going to and the student excitement is going. . . “