LONG BEACH - California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) students Amy Smith and Amy Thomas have been awarded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships that will have them studying abroad during the 2011 -12 academic year.The Gilman International Scholarship Program offers grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies abroad. Such international study is intended to better prepare U.S. students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world. Smith, a senior majoring in international studies and geography at CSULB, will be spending the fall 2011 semester in Spain at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Her four-and-a-half month study abroad excursion begins Sept. 1, and she is expecting to return to the states on Jan. 21, 2012. "I was thrilled when I found out that I had received the Gilman Scholarship," Smith recalled. "Studying abroad is the last requirement I have to fulfill my international studies degree, and I have already completed my geography degree. So, I have a lot of freedom when it comes to which courses I will take. (More importantly,) living in Madrid will allow me to become fluent in Spanish and immerse myself in Spanish culture." From an academic standpoint, Smith said Carlos III University offers many courses that interest her and will benefit her international studies major, including classes in international trade and international fiscal policy. She believes it will interesting to take these courses abroad because the topics will have much less of an "America-centric" view and will be approached in a different way. Smith also thinks that taking these courses abroad could help her gain admission into her first choice for a graduate school program-International Policy Studies at Stanford University. "I believe that completing these courses abroad will give me even more of an edge because it will be taught from a different viewpoint than that of the United States," she stated. "As an international studies and geography double major and a member of the Model United Nations Club on campus, I understand the importance of international education. "My long-term life goal is to become a program manager for USAID or a country program manager for a branch of the United Nations," she added. "While I am aware that it takes many years of experience to acquire these careers, I believe that studying international business abroad will enhance my chances of attaining my goal." Thomas, also a senior and majoring in liberal studies (working toward a multiple subject teaching credential) and German, will be studying abroad in Germany for the entire 2011-12 academic year, and she will divide her study abroad year between two German universities. She will spend the fall semester at the University of T?ºbingen, focusing on her German studies. Then, she will transfer in the spring to the University of Freiburg, where she will participate in the Teaching in Freiburg (TIF) program, designed for students considering teaching who would like to add an international component to their degrees. Through the (TIF) Program, participants learn about education in Germany and observe students and teachers in schools at various levels. This gives students valuable experience with children in school settings while enhancing their understanding of German language and culture. Thomas believes the TIF Program will be an "extremely valuable experience" for her, especially because she is toying with the idea of pursuing a master's degree in international education. More than anything, Thomas said she expects to gain a good command of the German language during her yearlong study abroad experience. "You can't go into (the study abroad year) knowing exactly what you're going to learn. I want to be surprised," she explained. "The great thing about studying abroad with other international students is that I will learn not only about the German culture, but a lot about many other cultures as well. Anything I learn abroad will be worthwhile." Overall, Smith and Thomas were two of three CSULB students to receive a Gilman International Scholarship for the 2011-12 academic year. The other student received a scholarship for a summer study abroad program. "We are proud to once again have exceptional students chosen for this scholarship," said Linda Olson Levy, CSULB's advisor for education abroad and international scholarships. "We are confident that they will represent Cal State Long Beach well overseas and will return home with a deeper understanding of the world in which we live."
********** Published: August 25, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 19