Study Abroad
Every year, nearly two hundred students study abroad through Southern's Office of International Education. Their experiences are rich and varied, but all of them return with a profound appreciation for the complexities of other cultures, and a desire to learn more about the world in which we live.

The coronavirus pandemic may have halted some of our Owls’ plans to travel abroad, but the SCSU community remains more globally connected than ever. Throughout the summer, the Office of International Education (OIE) has invited students to travel the globe from the comfort of their homes.

In a series of recorded conversations, SCSU students will connect with their peers at university partner institutions in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and beyond to discuss life as a university student in the pandemic.

The OIE staff members have experienced firsthand the dramatic impact the pandemic has had on student mobility and education abroad. In planning how to proceed for the upcoming year, OIE Director Erin Heidkamp met with Jana Brady, an adjunct faculty member from the Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences Department, about an idea for virtual collaboration.

Brady, having led a group of SCSU students to Malaysia, where she worked with three SCSU partner institutions on a volunteerism program, approached the OIE with an idea for online collaboration between the partner institutions to discuss how the students were affected by the campus closures relating to the pandemic. Along with Ina Marshall, the Programs Abroad Coordinator, the OIE began reaching out to the university partners and developing a framework for what would be a virtual student exchange.

Heidkamp said, “Study abroad is such an essential part of the college experience, as travel was restricted, we wanted to ensure that our students who were planning to go abroad this summer on some of our signature faculty-led programs had the opportunity to take part in a global exchange.”

These conversations, starting with a discussion on student life during the pandemic, will give students unique insight in to the student experience in other countries. As well, it makes available one of the most important elements of study abroad: the social exchange. Heidkamp says, “Giving students the opportunity to see each other, face-to-face via Skype, gives students an introduction to living abroad and removes some of the fears about joining a new community.”

The office hopes to expand these conversations after travel resumes with the hope of creating some co-curricular opportunities for shared classes and an orientation program where students will have the ability to meet some of the students who will be welcoming them abroad.

Heidkamp says, “These are challenging times, but all of our partners are excited to create new connections with SCSU and develop new forms of student mobility.”

Please visit the Office of International Education and keep an eye on the SCSU social media for the June launch.

In September, four SCSU Accounting students, led by Accounting Professor Robert Kirsch, traveled to England to participate in an Intensive Study Program at Bournemouth University. The objective of the program, Designing Innovative Pedagogy for Complex Accountancy Topics (DIPCAT), is to address a gap in higher education by creating an internationally-oriented learning platform in accountancy that facilitates current essential hard and soft skill development for early career professionals.

Students Kiersten Snyder, ‘20; Eldi Shahini, ‘20; Basenty Mousa, ‘19; and Alyssa Weisberger, ‘19 — the only students from an American university invited to the conference — spent five days using different methodologies to solve four challenging and intensive case studies.

Eldi Shahini said, “The DIPCAT Conference was by far the most enjoyable and challenging trip I’ve been a part of. I had the pleasure to work with many great individuals through Europe to solve cases, and go beyond our collaborative work and create great friendships. I (learned) more about other European countries and the way they operate than I would have in a classroom experience. I would like to thank everyone who made this experience an enjoyable one, and especially the individuals from Bournemouth University, who did an amazing job organizing this event.”

Alyssa Weisberger said, “(DIPCAT) was an amazing opportunity, and I encourage all future accounting majors to try to take part in this.”

Weisberger continues, “Some topics we learned about during DIPCAT were Classification of Financial Instruments, International Tax and Permanent Establishments, Corporate Social Responsibility and Business effects on stakeholders, and the Rapid Digitization of Audit. Another thing that was amazing about this trip was the people that we worked with during the conference. It was very interesting how everyone there communicated in English. Not only did we learn so much about these complex accounting topics, but we also learned about other European countries’ cultures and laws, etc. We all, also, left with quite a few new friends for life.”

Kiersten Snyder said, “DIPCAT meshed an educational experience with a social experience.” She said it’s a great way to get involved, especially for students looking for more experience with international accounting.

Kirsch, who has participated in 15 of the last 17 conferences, has had 50 students accompany him over the years. He says the friendships the students make during the conferences can last years and that the experience has a lasting impact on them, both personally and professionally.

This year’s topic of discussion led by Kirsch was “Modern History of European Accounting,” with a corresponding book in the works, of which Kirsch is the editor-in-chief. Kirsch points out that it is quite an honor for an American to lead a book on European accounting.

On the importance of facilitating this unique experience for students, Kirsch said, “As an undergraduate at Duquesne University, I had the opportunity to study in Israel for 14 months and I’ve wanted to make possible a similar opportunity for my students here at Southern. That’s why I’ve been instrumental in having 50 of them have the chance to go to various points in Europe to participate in various international conferences.”

Weisberger said, “SCSU has presented me with countless opportunities as an accounting major, and I’m really lucky. We also want to say a huge thank you to Dr. Kirsch for making this trip possible and selecting us to be a part of it.”

To hear more about the group’s DIPCAT experience, you can attend the Accounting Society’s DIPCAT Informational Session on Tuesday, September 24 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Buley 204. Pizza and drinks will be provided.

 

Christine Stackhouse, '19

Christine Stackhouse, ’19, didn’t know the career path she wanted for herself when she transferred to Southern in the middle of her freshman year. But less than four years later – and after two trips abroad – she discovered her passion for the business world, specifically in the field of marketing.

And today, Stackhouse is a marketing assistant for the New Haven-based law firm of Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey, LLP.

The Terryville resident said she transferred to Southern in the spring of 2016 because Southern was closer to home, and because she was selected for the university’s Honors College. She initially did not declare a major.

“I was a motivated and determined student,” she said. “Neither of my parents went to college, but they were very supportive of me. Things were going okay here. I was doing well and made some friends. I wanted to pursue a people-oriented job and kind of leaned toward marketing.”

Stackhouse was eventually invited to join the School of Business’s Student Ambassador Program, in which she helped conduct workshops for other students on topics such as writing a resume, dressing for success and interviewing for jobs.

“Through that program, we were invited to apply for a business trip during spring break to Japan sponsored by Austin Auger, a Southern alumnus. I was one of three students selected for the trip. It was exciting, but I was also nervous because I had never been out of the country.

“Austin showed us around Tokyo, especially to various businesses. And suddenly, I realized I was on a business trip meeting high-level executives. Who gets to do that? I felt valued and realized I was accomplishing what I wanted to do.”

Stackhouse decided she wanted to try another trip outside the country, and opted to study abroad for a semester (fall 2018) in France at the prestigious EDHEC Business School, located in Nice.

“I didn’t know a word of French, but there were students and professors there from all over the world. The classes were very hard, but I learned a lot. Our education system is quite different, and so are our approaches to developing a marketing plan.

“I came back to the United States having learned so much about myself. But I also started freaking out because I only had one more semester before graduating, and had no idea what I was going to do.”

But she said that the School of Business was instrumental in landing her the job opportunity at Carmody. In particular, she pointed to Patty Conte, School of Business internship coordinator; Sue Rapini, the school’s director of external relations; and Tony Rescigno, former executive director of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce.

Stackhouse said she performs various duties as a marketing assistant with the firm, including social media, coordinating sponsorships and some budgeting. “I also want to be a resource for students and try to connect the company with Southern students,” she said.

“Before I went there, I underestimated Southern because it’s a state university,” Stackhouse said. “But my experience was different from what I originally expected. There are so many opportunities at Southern. You just have to take advantage of them. The school helped me develop both professionally and personally.”

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing. She compiled a 3.84 GPA and earned departmental honors in marketing, as well as award for performance and leadership in marketing.

Stackhouse said she plans to continue in the marketing field for the foreseeable future, and would eventually like to engage in data analysis and campaign planning. “I like turning numbers into results,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morocco

During the spring semester, 13 Southern students spent a week in Marrakech, Morocco, learning about sustainable development and how they could apply the concept in their home communities and Greater New Haven.

The program was hosted by World Merit Morocco, part of a worldwide, apolitical organization that seeks to empower young adults to create a better future  “by building confidence, raising aspiration and connecting diverse people of merit.”

World Merit, founded in 2012 by Liverpool, England-based entrepreneur Chris Arnold, has engaged 120,000+ youth worldwide in more than 1,000 projects advancing the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The U.N. goals address global challenges including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice, with a view to resolving them by 2030.

The 13 Southern participants, led by Erin Heidkamp and Michael Schindel from SCSU’s Office of International Education, were nominated and selected by department chairs from the various schools and included five from the School of Business, six from Arts and Sciences, and two from Health and Human Services.  Airfare, airport transportation, and required student/staff international insurance policy were paid for using funds from the SCSU Alumni Foundation LJMU/Better Futures Network initiative along with a contribution from the SCSU School of Business Alumni Foundation account. In-country expenses (accommodation and meals) were provided by World Merit Morocco. Students were responsible for paying in country transportation, excursion costs, and individual meals/snacks.

The itinerary prepared by World Merit Morocco was designed to provide the students with an overview of the World Merit organization and a cultural introduction to Marrakech.

Morocco

Following an unfortunate flight cancellation, the group departed a day late and arrived in Marrakech on March 25. The students were met at Marrakech Menara Airport and transferred to the lodging at Cadi Ayyad University Club before being invited to the Marrakech Medina for a traditional Moroccan mint tea on a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Medina.

The following day, attended sessions that provided an introduction to the mission of World Merit and an overview of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Morocco

Discussion focused on how  World Merit Morocco has focused on shaping its mission and ethos around SDGs that are particularly important within the context and culture of Morocco, and the group was shown videos of projects engaged in by student participants from all over the world during the 2018 World Merit Council Summit. In the afternoon, small focus groups were formed to develop  models for projects and programs that could help participants’ own communities achieve SDGs on a local scale. The students then presented these models to their peers, sparking conversations about how World Merit could contribute to the Greater New Haven area.

The next day,  students were invited to take in the rich and variegated history and culture of Marrakech. Students participated in a tour of the Jardin Marjorelle, the El Basi Palace, the Medina, and the historic Souks. This unforgettable day was capped off with a field trip to a local female-owned Argan oil collective, where students had the opportunity to watch how Argan oil and other Argan products are processed, and to learn how collectives such as this are critically important economic pillars, particularly in the country’s rural regions.

On the second-to-last day, the group visited Mohammed VI Polytechnic University. There they were treated to a campus tour, led by Monia Fdail, Research Officer in the Office of the President General Manager for OCP Group. With its headquarters in Morocco, OCP group is one of the leading exporters of phosphate in the region and provides substantial funding for the university and its innovation lab.  This Leed-Certified campus is part of a national initiative, championed by the King of Morocco, to create a fully sustainable community.

Throughout the university’s expansive campus, solar panels provide all electricity and the water for irrigation is recycled and reused. The campus is 100 percent paperless and its labs are industry standard.

The university’s innovation lab is part of a collaborative partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to create new cluster degree programs preparing students for a modern workforce that requires hard and soft transdisciplinary skill sets.

On the final day of the World Merit Morocco program, March 29, the students attended English class at the Centre Mohammed VI des Handicapés. The Centre, staffed entirely by volunteers (many of whom belong to the Marrakech World Merit council), offers English training to children with intellectual disabilities. Southern students had the opportunity to work with these youngsters one-on-one, as well as dance and play. In the late afternoon, as a final treat, they traveled to the foothills of the Atlas Mountains where they sampled traditional Berber cuisine and went on a ropes course and zip line.

On March 31, the group said its goodbyes and returned to the U.S. The students returned with a clear desire to bring the message of World Merit and the U.N. SDGs to SCSU, hoping to start a chapter or a World Merit council on campus.

World Languages and Literatures Professor Pina Palma and Associate Professor of Photography Jeremy Chandler recently returned from the rich cultural region of Tuscany in Italy with a group of students who were studying literature and photography as part of a Southern summer study-abroad program. The professors held classes in the picturesque village of Montepulciano and led students on excursions to Rome, Florence, Siena, Arezzo, and Cortona. To document their student’s work and the experiences of the group, Palma and Chandler created a Tumblr site : scsutuscanystudyabroad.tumblr.com/

Students were taking ART 369 – The Photographic Travel Journal or LIT 488 – Seminar in World Literature. Some were also enrolled in Italian language courses at the group’s host institution, Il Sasso Italian Language School. Each course considered the other with regard to thematic content, as the professors’ goal was to fuel creative output, whether through writing or visual art. The Tumblr blog was created to document the group’s travels and highlight student work. In addition to viewing iconic and historically important artworks in Rome, Siena, Florence and Arezzo, the group visited an international photography festival in Cortona.

ART 369 – The Photographic Travel Journal is a studio art course, which utilizes digital photography, written text and photographic collage, toward the creation of an illustrated travel journal. Students learn the technical fundamentals of digital photography, as well as creative strategies for incorporating their photographs into a journal format. They then document the places and people they encounter in order to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences.

LIT 488 – Seminar in World Literature focuses on Italian cities and culture as depicted in works by European and Italian authors. For this course students explore, analyze, and compare the authors’ perspectives while also juxtaposing and examining those perspectives with regard to their own as they journey through the cities — Rome, Florence, Siena, Arezzo/Perugia — that are included in the Montepulciano program.

Hello again! Here are the three videos I created from my trip to Italy. I went to Rome, Florence, and Pisa over an eight-day period. It was the biggest trip I went on in Europe but I went with my two Southern flat mates, Shannon and Andrea. We planned the entire trip on our own from the hostels, to trains across the Italian country side, to finding tours or simply exploring the cities ourselves! We got a lot of tips and advice from friends and family who have previously studied abroad or went to these cities.

The videos were all done with my iPhone and a selfie-stick. I held the selfie stick like holding someone’s hand so the entire blogs are meant to look as if YOU, the viewer, was with me the whole trip!

Italy has always been somewhere I wanted to go but it greatly exceeded my expectations. The Italian culture is simply beautiful from the language, to the historic roman architecture, and of course, the food! The people we met were also completely inspiring and enriched this experience. We me an older couple from Florida who raised kids and made a good life for themselves but then decided two years ago that they wanted more out of life. So what did they do? They sold their house and everything they owned, and have been traveling across Europe for the past two years. We were lucky enough to meet them in a café in Roma. We also met a nineteen-year old who was enjoying the views of the Vatican on his last day of his 11-month solo journey around the world.

My eyes of the world significantly got wider from this Italian adventure. It was an experience I will never forget. These videos try to do justice to what I saw and experienced for those eight days. I hope you enjoy them, and if I were you, start planning your trip to Italia!

Ciao!

America in Liverpool

Rome

Florence
Pisa

Greetings from New Castle! One of the reasons why I love my field is that it relates to tourism & travel. This 30 pound trip (about 40 USD) included transportation, a tour of 4 main attractions in New Castle, 1 night in a hotel, breakfast, and dinner. How can you beat that?! But putting the amenities aside, the trip was designed to help with my next assignment in my Conventions course.  I have to write a report as an employee of a company about why either New Castle or Liverpool is the best city to have an annual conference.

During the trip I got to visit the New Castle United Football Stadium, New Castle Keep, the Civic Centre, and (my favorite) The Castle of New Castle. Day 2 we went to The Sage where many events, conferences, and business exhibitions take place. I learned New Castle has 7 bridges and the city is rising to be a stronger competitor in the tourism & conferences industry.

All in all, it was a great two days. I enjoyed the company of the Level 5 students and the lecturers. Everyone made me feel very comfortable & I felt like I belonged J I also really enjoyed the bus ride home because I got to see the North Sea & the English country side which is just so beautiful.

Well, now I have to sign off & get ready for my next trip… ITALY!

Signing off,
America in Liverpool

November fifth is a holiday in the UK, particularly England. It is known as either Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night, and it has been celebrated since 1606. It commemorates the failure of what is known as the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. This was an attempt by several conspirators to blow up the House of Lords, killing everyone inside including King James I. They wanted to reinstate a Catholic ruler to the throne of England and Scotland. The conspiracy was thwarted when authorities found Guy Fawkes in the basement of the House of Lords with 36 barrels of gunpowder.

Since then, November fifth has been a major holiday for the country. It was originally celebrated by sermons and ringing bells, but has since evolved into a patriotic holiday much like the fourth of July, marked with firework displays all over the country. In Liverpool, the display was set off from barges on the waterfront, and I joined tens of thousands of others on both sides of the river to watch them. The official display lasted for about a half hour, but unofficial fireworks were going off all over the city for hours. Anywhere I looked I could see fireworks going off in rapid succession. Children carried sparklers and flashing lights through the streets. Overall, the city was in a great mood that day, and several days after. They had come together to celebrate, and it was great to be a part of.

Crowds gathered to see fireworks over the Mersey.
Crowds gathered to see fireworks over the Mersey.

Thanks to our membership in the LJMU International Society, we get the benefit of taking several free trips to locations throughout the UK. The first of these trips was to the northern city of York. Besides being the inspiration for “New York,” this city is full of history. Originally founded in the early first century, it is another reminder that English cities are much older than their United States counterparts.

York is just under two and a half hours away from Liverpool, to the Northeast. We travelled in a coach along with 40 other members of the International Society from all over the world. When the bus dropped us off, we were free to explore as we wished, and we had all day to do so. My flatmates and I set off on our own to discover what York had to offer.

As it turned out, York offered quite a bit. There was the architecture—gorgeous and intricate stone buildings from hundreds of years ago. In the center of the city towered the beautiful York Minster Cathedral, constructed between 1220 and 1472. Then there were “The Shambles,” a shopping district dating back to the 14th century. “The Shambles” resembled Diagon Alley from Harry Potter, with narrow streets and eclectic leaning buildings.

Aside from the historic architecture, there was also a good deal of natural beauty in York. In fact, one of the first sights we saw upon arriving was an exhibition showcasing many of the area’s native birds including owls and falcons. The city is home to two rivers, the Ouse and the Foss, and the bridges over them provided a great vantage point from which to view the tree lined riverbanks and the numerous rowers paddling along. Another great spot from which we could take in the natural and architectural sights was the city wall.

York, like many other medieval cities, was defended by a mighty stone wall surrounding it. Much of the wall remains from the 14th century when it was renovated. In fact, it has more wall than any other city in England. To end our day in York, we walked along a few miles of the wall, taking in the view of the city and the surrounding land. Unfortunately, by this late in the day, my camera had run out of battery so I couldn’t get any pictures, but it was a great perspective to see from. I felt immersed in the history of York as I walked along the same stretch of wall and looking at the same buildings that people have been walking along and seeing for hundreds of years.

The grandest of all, Buckingham Palace.

London is one of the world’s great cities, so it was a must for us to plan a trip down to see it while we’re here. On Friday night after we all had finished our classes, we took a two and a half hour train ride from Liverpool’s Lime Street Station to London’s Euston Station. From there, it was only a short walk to the hostel we were staying at. The great thing about studying in Europe is that if you take advantage of the public transportation and hostels, it is much more affordable to travel around than it is to travel from the United States, and the semester affords you plenty of opportunities to do so.

Despite the fact that Liverpool and London are both UK cities, they each have a completely unique character. Liverpool is a diverse port city, but London is the most diverse city in the world. Liverpool has a compact and easily navigable city center, while London has a larger land area than Los Angeles, and as many people as New York City. Liverpool has a history to be proud of, but London’s history is the history of the Western World; from its settlement by the Romans in the year 43 all the way up to today where it is still a center for culture, finance, and politics. We wanted to take in as much of this history as we possibly could in the 3 days we had available to us.

On Saturday morning, we woke bright and early to take advantage of the free walking tour that our hostel provided. This tour was entertaining, informative, and good exercise, as it lasted nearly 3 hours and covered all of the major tourist attractions in London. We saw several palaces including the grandest of them all, Buckingham Palace, home of her majesty the Queen. We also saw the Elizabeth Tower (home of Big Ben, which is actually the bell in the tower and not the tower or the clock itself), the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, King’s Cross Station (where Harry Potter departs for Hogwarts from platform 9 ¾), and the River Thames.

After the tour ended, we continued on our own to see the Shard (the tallest building in the UK), the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and the London Eye. All-in-all, it was a busy and interesting day, filled with equal parts history and beautiful architecture.

On Sunday, having seen all of the major attractions, we decided to venture into some other areas of town. First, we went to Camden Market, a massive area of open air vendors selling all kinds of goods from intricate lamps to sweatshirts to foods from all over the world. After we spent a couple of hours there, we set out to find Abbey Road, home of the studio where The Beatles recorded many albums and the famous crosswalk which graced the cover of one of those albums. This was a bit out of the way, but it allowed us the opportunity to take a double decker bus and see many of the more residential and less touristy parts of the city. It also allowed us a great vantage point from which to see some of the many sports and luxury cars that Londoners drive around—from Lamborghinis and Ferraris to Aston Martins and Rolls Royces.

Later that night, my flatmates took a train back to Liverpool, but I stayed for one more night to catch a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. This venue was by far the nicest I’ve ever been in, and it is another wonderful example of the gorgeous architecture that London has to offer. Before the show, I spent a few hours in the Kensington and Chelsea Library doing my reading for the next day’s classes, and another hour or so enjoying the view of a rainbow from Hyde Park. All in all, it was a perfect way to end a wonderful trip. In those three days, I realized that London lives up to its reputation as a great city, but I also realized how much I appreciate Liverpool. When I got off the train back in Liverpool in the relative quiet of the early morning, I at once felt comfortable and at home. The streets of Liverpool are familiar to me, and I feel like I belong there, away from the hustle and bustle of a 24-hour city like London.