BSU Office of Study Abroad

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9:52 AM
September 12th, 2014

Meet the Study Abroad Staff!

As we begin a new academic year, we want to (re)introduce ourselves to everyone! Every few days, we will highlight a different member of the OSA staff. We’ll begin with…

Michael Sandy- Director of Study Abroad

What countries have you visited? Do you have a favorite?

I have been very fortunate to visit 32 countries on 6 continents for work, service-learning programs, and personal travel.  My favorite place is often the last place I visited but I am most often drawn back to Latin America.

What’s the most bizarre and/or delicious food you’ve eaten abroad?

Fried grasshoppers in a village outside of Jingdezhen, China was the most bizarre food and massamam curry in Chiang Mai, Thailand was the most delicious (I went back to the restaurant the next day to have another bowl).

What do you think is one of the most important reasons for students to participate in a study abroad program?

Studying abroad is an excellent way to better understand our rapidly changing world and to develop global skills needed to succeed in our careers, relationships and communities.  The world has mobilized and study abroad and inter-cultural experiences, in addition to studying international subjects and foreign languages, provides opportunities to be engaged far beyond our classrooms and borders.  

What’s your favorite part about working in the Office of Study Abroad?

I love providing global opportunities for our students and creating pathways for their participation.  It is personally and professionally rewarding to support students, whether they are first time travelers or globe-trekkers, on their next cross-cultural experience.  I was afforded international opportunities in my youth which set the tone and priorities for my life, and I am grateful for a career in international education and opportunities to pay it forward. 


Mike Sandy at the Royal Palace, Bangkok, Thailand

3:08 PM
August 21st, 2014
Come by our fall study abroad fair on September 9!

Come by our fall study abroad fair on September 9!

9:18 AM
July 28th, 2014

Busting the Top 10 Study Abroad Myths

By Stacie Nevadomski Berdan, Huffington Post

Myth #1: Study abroad costs too much.

Fact: The cost varies depending on the type and location of the program, the length of the stay, and whether the program is administered through a university or an outside organization. A program can be significantly less expensive, more or about the same. Study abroad can be affordable. Many colleges and universities are committed to maintaining cost parity; a semester abroad should cost exactly the same as one on the home campus, at least as far as tuition and board. Some study abroad programs — especially those in developing countries — can actually be less expensive than tuition and fees for the equivalent amount of time on home campus. Financial aid should be transferable as long as the home college accepts the transferred credits. Enrolling directly in an international university can often save students a great deal of money, but the risks are greater (students are doing all the work themselves without a structure or proven process in place) as is the amount of time spent on managing the process.

Myth #2: Studying abroad is all about partying and having fun.

Fact: It’s about studying, learning and building valuable skills. There is no doubt that some students view studying abroad as a vacation, going just to party, drink and hook up with other students. Some programs are run more like glorified vacations, shuttling busloads of American students from one sight to the next. But times are changing, and study abroad is so much more than that. It expands personal horizons while opening up a world of personal and professional opportunities. Although it should be fun, it’s also a serious undertaking that will challenge students on a personal level and have an impact on their academic career. Studying abroad includes taking classes, preferably taught by local professors on locally-relevant subjects — and in the local language if possible. Students will learn about different education systems and ways of teaching. They will find themselves challenging their own ideas and beliefs once they’ve had a chance to experience an alternate perspective. Students will learn how to appreciate different cultures and solve problems while operating in an environment from what they’re used to.

Myth #3: Study abroad is only for language and international relations majors.

Fact: All subjects can be taught through a global lens. Study abroad is for all majors, and students in every field will benefit from a global experience. Historically, most programs embraced the humanities, but today only 11.3 percent of students who study abroad major in the humanities and only an additional 5.6 percent major in languages. More colleges are offering or even requiring international stints for students in social sciences (22.9 percent), business (20.5 percent) and engineering/math/sciences (13.2% percent. (Numbers from last year’s Open Doors Report 2012*.)

Myth #4: Study abroad is only for juniors.

Fact: It is for any undergraduate or graduate student at any time. While studying abroad as a junior continues to be the most popular — one-third of all students do it — the other two-thirds have taken advantage of different options. Freshmen, sophomores and seniors are studying abroad anywhere from two weeks to a full academic year. Many community college programs offer study abroad opportunities, and increasing numbers of graduate students are spending part of their time abroad. Students should consider the pros and cons of studying abroad at different times and for different lengths of time and choose that which is best.

Myth #5: Students only study abroad in Europe.

Fact: Students study abroad in almost every country in the world. Although almost 40 percent of students studied in the U.K., Italy, France and Spain in the year 2011-12, this number has been decreasing over the past few years. In fact, according to the Open Doors report, four of the top 10 destinations are outside of Europe: China, Australia, Costa Rica and Argentina. The shift is happening, albeit slowly, away from Europe; the programs in European destinations are well established with plenty of alums recommending them. But more and more students are considering rising economic global players, such as India, Brazil or Turkey to give them an extra boost when it comes to the job search.

Myth #6: Studying abroad is only for white students.

Fact: Anyone who wants to study abroad can study abroad. Although 78 percent of students studying abroad are white, they represent 62 percent of enrollment in higher education. Asian Americans represent 8 percent of study abroad students, which is close to their actual proportion of all college students. However, African-American students comprise 14 percent of the college population, but only 5 percent of study abroad students. Hispanic students make up 13 percent of all those enrolled in U.S. higher education, but only 7 percent of those who study abroad. For these students, barriers include fear of racism, worries about delayed graduation, and few role models — either family or faculty — who have traveled abroad. Most administrators agree that increasing racial and ethnic diversity in study abroad will require an effort to persuade students that going abroad is both possible and necessary. If you are a person of color, ethnically diverse, someone with a disability or anyone else who doesn’t fit the “study abroad stereotype” — you can do it. Groups such as Diversity AbroadMIUSA and NAFSA Special Interest Group provide support.

Myth #7: There aren’t many scholarships available for studying abroad.

Fact: There are hundreds and hundreds of study abroad scholarships available for merit, financial need and even specialty awards. Most colleges have a straightforward framework for applying for study abroad scholarships, one that lays out the potential amounts available, the process and deadlines for applying, and any restrictions that may exist for general scholarships as well as targeted scholarships for diversity, first-generation, high-financial need students and geography (choosing a destination off the beaten path). In addition, scholarships are offered by many other organizations, including private organizations like the Shawn Carter Foundation, foreign governments, and many sponsored by the U.S. government, such as numerous Fulbright awardsBoren awards and the Benjamin A. Gilman Award. As an example, in 2012-13, Gilman awarded 2,900 scholarships for a total of $11.3 million. Since inception in 2001, Gilman has awarded more than 14,000 U.S. undergraduate students of high financial need scholarships to study or intern abroad, who have come from over 1,100 U.S. institutions and gone to 135 countries around the world. For a comprehensive listing of scholarships and funding, check out IIE Passport’s Study Abroad Funding site.

Myth #8: Traveling independently offers the same experience.

Fact: Studying abroad includes “studying,” whereas traveling does not. Traveling and tourism are added perks to studying abroad, but they should not overshadow the actual purpose of studying abroad, which is studying and living in another culture. Taking classes with local students, and honing language skills by communicating and interacting with local friends or a host family, will offer much deeper insight into the local culture. Rather than leaving town every weekend, students should explore their host community and spend time getting to know the local neighborhood, not just seeing the big sights. Students will learn more about themselves and others.

Myth #9: Studying abroad will delay graduation.

Fact: If students plan ahead and make sure their credits transfer, there’s no reason graduation will be delayed. In fact, research shows that four-year graduation rates for students who studied abroad are significantly higher than those who stayed at home — 17.8 percent higher. Study abroad students return with a reinvigorated interest in academic pursuits and a renewed passion for lifelong learning. Some students who study abroad for a year have actually graduated in less than four years because of the accelerated classes they took while abroad.

Myth #10: Potential employers don’t value study abroad.

Fact: Employers increasingly want workers who can work cross-culturally and speak another language. Study abroad is one of the best ways (often the only way) for students to acquire marketable international qualifications, cross-cultural competency and proficiency in a second language. In addition to valuing the soft skills acquired while spending time abroad, employers want workers who can collaborate with others around the world. But just listing study abroad on a resume or in a cover letter won’t cut it. Students must package their study abroad experience in a way that showcases what they’ve learned. Organizations will want to know what an applicant did and learned while abroad — and how that experience can be brought to bear on the job.

Perhaps study abroad is not for you, and if that’s the case, it’s okay. But if you’re saying “no” due to any one of these misperceptions, do your research before you decide not to go. One of the reasons that the Institute of International Education and I collaborated on writing A Student Guide to Study Abroad is because of the need to consolidate the vast amount of information out there — and offer a comprehensive yet practical guide for students and parents to use in their decision making. All programs are not equal, and study abroad offices cannot possibly convey all the big and small things needed to know to make a decision, prepare a student for the experience and help students leverage what they’ve learned once they’ve returned.

11:05 AM
March 26th, 2014

Ecuador- new study tour location!

This winter, BSU is offering a new study tour— to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador!  The tour is available for Biology or Math credit, but is open to all majors!

We thought this would be a good time to introduce some key information on the country:

  • Location: Western South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean at the Equator, between Colombia and Peru.
  • Population: 15,439,429
  • Capital: Quito
  • Currency: United States Dollar
  • Official Language: Spanish

Geography: Ecuador is divided into three continental regions—the Costa, Sierra, and Oriente—and one insular region: the Galápagos Islands. The continental regions extend the length of the country from north to south and are separated by the Andes Mountains. The Galápagos Islands, officially called the Archipiélago de Colón, are located 620 miles west of the Ecuadorian coast (International Living).

For more information on this incredible opportunity to study over the winter break in the Galapagos, visit the BSU Office of Study Abroad website:

10:55 AM
February 12th, 2014
20 U.S. Cities You Need To Visit In Your 20s

Yes, we are the Office of Study Abroad, but we take a broader approach and want to help students study away— and that doesn’t always require a passport!  There are numerous exciting opportunities and new experiences to be had right here in the United States! 

BSU is part of the National Student Exchange, along with around 200 other colleges and universities!  BSU students have an opportunity to study at a member institution in the US, Canada, and US Territories— from New York City and Montreal to Hawaii and Guam!  Visit for more information on the National Student Exchange and apply today through our website: for your chance to explore a whole new part of the United States!

12:14 PM
December 16th, 2013

Christmas variations from around the world

Around the world, family members help to decorate the tree and home with bright lights, wreaths, candles, holly, mistletoe, and ornaments. On Christmas Eve, many people go to church. Also on Christmas Eve, Santa comes from the North Pole in a sleigh to deliver gifts; in Hawaii, it is said he arrives by boat; in Australia, the jolly man arrives on water skis; and In Ghana, he comes out of the jungle.

In Ireland, it’s traditional to leave mince pies and a bottle of Guinness out as a snack for Santa

In Russia, Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January and not the 25th of December like in most other countries. This unusual date is because the Orthodox Church uses the old Julian calendar for religious celebration days. In the traditional Russian Christmas special prayers are said and people fast, sometimes for 39 days until January 6th (Christmas Eve) when the first evening star in appears in the sky. Then begins a twelve course supper in honor of each of the twelve apostles..

In the Czech Republic, single women perform a very usual ritual on Christmas Eve Day to find out if they will marry in the following year. With their backs to the house door, they throw one of their shoes over their shoulder. If the shoe lands with the heel towards the door, she will definitely stay single for another year, while if the front of the shoe points towards the door, it means she will move out of her parents’ house and she should start making wedding preparations.

In Sweden, there is a giant goat made of straw to mark the beginning of the holiday season. Every year vandals do everything they can to burn down the goat before Christmas day. Since 1966 the straw goat has survived until Christmas Day only 10 times. People disguise themselves as Santa or elves to get past the guardian and ignite the straw monument.

In Germany, December 6th is Nikolaustag St. Claus day. On the eve of that day, children leave out shoes or boot outside their door, and the next morning candles and small toys appear in them for those who have been good or else a golden birch (a symbol for spanking) is placed next to the sweets if they were bad.

In Greenland, rather than the more traditional Christmas foods, Kivak which consists of raw flesh of an auk wrapped in seal skin and placed under a rock for several months until its well into decomposition is the order of the day.

10:47 AM
November 5th, 2013

Fall Holidays & Events from around the World

1. King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament: Hua Hin, Thailand

September 5 - 11, 2005

Elephant polo in some form or another has been played for hundreds of years but was more recently reintroduced as an adaptation of classic horseback polo. This event takes place annually in the resort town of Hua Hin on the Gulf Coast of Thailand, with competitors coming in from all over South-East Asia. Held on the grounds of the Anantara Resort, the competition raises money for a local Elephant Conservation Center. Tournaments are also held regularly in Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Apart from the actual polo tournament, the celebrations last for an entire week and include a parade of elephants (accompanied by a marching band) through the city, an elephant blessing ceremony, polo memorabilia auctions, displays of the elephant orchestra and elephant painting daily (the elephants do the painting, with brushes held in trunks). Hua Hin is a three-hour drive or short flight from Bangkok.

2. Círio De Nazaré: Belém, Brazil

October 7 - 14, 2005

On the second Sunday in October, the Amazon port city of Belém puts on the largest annual river festival procession, attracting people from all over Brazil and the world.

The Saturday before the procession, an effigy of the Virgin of Nazaré is brought across the water from Vila de Icoaraci, guarded by a flotilla of boats. From the port, the effigy is paraded through the streets of Belém to the Cathedral (Igreja da Sé), followed by a procession. On the following morning, the procession swells to several thousands people following the Mary around the city, carried on a raised platform covered in flowers. Various decorated floats also follow the saint with children dressed as angels and members of the clergy. Men and women encircle the platform, walking barefoot and holding onto a long rope, representing the strong link between the saint and her people. Followers jostle to be able to touch the image of the Virgin. The celebrations continue into the night with live bands, music and dancing throughout the city.

3. Diwali Festival of Lights: Throughout India

November 1, 2005

Fittingly as the most important Indian Hindu festival of the year, Diwali is also the most beautiful. Every Hindu home, no matter how small or humble, and even many non-Hindu light small oil lamps (called diyas) and place them around the home, in courtyards, gardens, verandahs, on the walls around the home and on rooftops. This creates a surreal visual experience for the visitor to any Indian town. Children wake up hours before sunrise to participate in all the fun and frivolity of lighting firecrackers and sparklers.

Diwali is a celebration of the symbolic conquering of darkness by the light as a representation of good triumphing over evil. The festival also coincides with a the post-harvest season, when India is at its most abundant, there is the hope of impending wealth for communities so it is a time for big spending, particularly on jewelry. It’s also the biggest shopping season of the year, equivalent to the pre-Christmas shopping frenzy in western countries.

4. Day of the Dead: Throughout Mexico and Guatemala

November 1-2, 2005

El día de los muertos is one of the most culturally interesting times to be in Mexico and Guatemala to witness the festivities of the traditional Day of the Dead. It is a celebration of life and a chance for families to remember their ancestors, paying tribute to their memory by visiting cemeteries, followed by spectacular street festivals, parades, the giving of gifts and feasting. Each town or province will have its own individual way of commemorating the day, from more somber candlelit funerary processions to bustling street parades full of dancing and bright colored costumes.

Even in the week beforehand, you will get to see the intense planning that goes into the Day of the Dead. Commemorative altars are set up throughout the streets, costumes and decorations are sold in local shops and even food has a morbid theme, with skeleton cakes and bread baked in the shape of coffins. Food and drink form an integral part of the occasion and you will often see plates of food left at grave sites in local cemeteries, next to photos of the deceased and other gifts. Family members will also bring radios or musical instruments to the cemetery so they can sing, dance and celebrate with the deceased.

The town of San Andrés Mixquic, southeast of Mexico City is famous for its colorful Day of the Dead celebrations, as is the city of Oaxaca. The Day of the Dead in the Guatemalan highland village of Todos Santos is the cultural highlight of their festive calendar with dancing, cemetery gatherings and a unique drinking inspired horse race competition that combines the skills of alcohol consumption and horsemanship. In Santiago Sacatepéquez, Guatemalan locals use multi-colored ornate kites to communicate with the spirits of the deceased with thousands of kites flown in the streets as well as in the cemeteries.

4:36 PM
October 29th, 2013

Paranormal Activity around the World

In honor of Halloween…. OSA decided to look at paranormal phenomenon from various countries, including one that’s very close to home for BSU.

1. The Mines of Paris

These are the seemingly infinite tunnels that run below the streets of Paris. The mines were used to dig out minerals from Paris’ varied sediment (the location where Paris is was submerged for millions of years), and the tunnels are what got left behind.

The mines are now unkempt, unpatrolled and unsafe. As legends go, ancient cults and creatures patrol the depths. Spirits dwell in the infinite shadows, and if one wanders deep enough, and survives, they may even enter Hades itself. The tunnels stretch for close to 600 kilometers throughout the Parisian underground, and most of them are unmapped. It is nearly impossible not to get lost. Many parts of the catacombs are hundreds of feet below street level. Some hallways are flooded, or are so narrow you have to crawl through them. There are holes that drop hundreds of feet and manholes that are unreachable, luring unwary urban explorers in with false promises of freedom. The infinite underground maze absorbs sound, mutes it, making it unlikely you will hear somebody, even if they are not far away. Or, worse yet, making it unlikely somebody will hear you. Thousands of human bones litter the tunnels, due to overcrowding in many of Paris’ cemeteries. Weird paintings adorn the walls. Are they ancient? Are they new? Are they warnings or pleas for help? If you have claustrophobia, you will want to avoid the mines at all costs. If you don’t have claustrophobia, you probably will after a trip through the mines.

2.Humberstone and LaNoria, Chile

 In 1872, the town was founded as a saltpeter mine, and business boomed. However, after several heavy blows (including the Great Depression), the business declined and then collapsed in 1958, and the towns were abandoned by 1960. Treatment of workers in both towns bordered on slavery, and now the towns are left standing derelict.

It is rumored that the dead of the La Noria cemetery rise at night and walk around the town, and ghostly images frequently show up in photographs in Humberstone. These towns are so terrifying, the residents of nearby Iquique refuse to enter them. The former residents never left, and can be seen walking around, and children have been heard playing. The cemetery of La Noria, regardless of whether its occupants actually walk at night, contains opened graves where the bodies are fully exposed, leaving you to wonder why. Is it ghosts, or is it grave robbers? As if either prospect is very appealing.

3. Leap Castle, Ireland

Perhaps the most haunted castle in Ireland is Leap Castle. More than 400 years ago, in 1532, brother turned against brother to shed blood. One was a warrior who rushed into the chapel and used his sword to slay his brother, the priest. The priest fell across the altar and died. The chapel is known as Bloody Chapel since that time. The dungeon in the castle is called an oubliette. Prisoners pushed into the oubliette fell eight feet onto spikes coming up from the floor. Leap Castle is also haunted by an Elemental, a dark evil creature about the size of a sheep and has a human face and black pools for eyes. It smells of rotting flesh.  It’s a great place to go for a ghost hunt.

4. The Bridgewater Triangle

The Bridgewater Triangle refers to an area of about 200 square miles (520 km2) within southeastern Massachusetts, and includes the campus of Bridgewater State University! The region is claimed to be a site of alleged paranormal activity, from UFOs to poltergeists and orbs, balls of fire and other spectral phenomena, various “Bigfoot” sightings, giant snakes and “thunderbirds”, as well as the mutilation of cows and other livestock.

11:18 AM
October 29th, 2013

Getting Academic Credit Abroad

(Reposted from November 2012)

At BSU the best place to start asking about credit for study abroad is the Office of Study Abroad located in Maxwell 330 and online at:

The best time to ask about credit is BEFORE (yes, before!!) you leave to study abroad (during the semester before you leave, after you get accepted into a program.)

The key to this process is that it is student-driven – you need to be in charge of finding out what classes you may take abroad will count for back at your home school. It is essential to know this before you go so that you can make informed decisions on what to take, how many courses to take, and required prerequisites.  My suggestion is for students to always get extra courses pre-approved so that if they need to add or drop classes they still have a list of pre-approved classes. We discuss the transfer credit process regularly:  in advising sessions, at our mandatory pre-departure orientation for all study abroad students, at program-specific advising sessions like exchanges and affiliates, and at Study Abroad 101 sessions.  

One of our required forms for students going on semester or summer programs (not study tours) is the Transfer Credit Form that students are supposed to submit before they leave campus before their program. We strongly recommend that students complete the transfer credit pre-approval process before they leave campus, but you can get this done while abroad via email or even when you return. Your credits cannot be processed on your BSU transcript until we have the original transcript from the host school and the courses approved for transfer credit.

We are working to make the credit transfer process more efficient for students studying abroad, but we do have to work within our University policies.  The BSU Study Abroad office does not decide on credit transfers – each academic department at BSU is in charge of approving courses taken off campus for transfer credit in their department – Study Abroad is the central office that helps to facilitate the whole process in conjunction with the academic departments granting credit (they will generally be the ones approving with signature the courses and giving your home school equivalency course numbers) and the Registrar (they will be the office that puts the credits on each transcript) and your major advisor (you will work with your advisor to select host school courses that fit your academic plan, and once you obtain pre-approved courses list,  see how pre-approved credit fits in to your degree plan).    

  • Review and select study abroad program
  • Review in advance the available courses online for the program to see if courses you need are available
  • Meet with your academic advisor
  • Meet with your study abroad advisor to discuss academic credit process for this program and your home school
  • Review the academic credit process including printing out forms, steps, contacts for evaluating courses, emails, online forms
  • Obtain forms for pre-approval
  • Create list of host program courses you want to take with course descriptions or syllabi
  • Obtain home university pre-approval (home school graded credit, transfer credit, pass/fail, or otherwise) for each class you intend to take PLUS 3 extra classes
  • Keep copies of credit or transfer credit pre-approval forms for your records
  • Submit copies to appropriate offices- Study Abroad, Registrar, Major Advisor, host program/university
  • Keep your academic advisor’s email handy
  • Find out if you can get any additional courses approved while abroad or when you return
  • While in country, request to have your transcript from your semester or summer abroad sent to the BSU Office of Study Abroad
  • Office of Study Abroad makes copy of your transcript and sends the original to the Registrar
  • Registrar matches courses on your transcript to pre-approved transfer credit forms they have received (they contact Study Abroad and the student if they do not have a course approved for transfer credit)
  • Registrar processes study abroad credits and they appear on your transcript

While the process can seem daunting, it really is not and there are many people to help you along the way. Please feel free to offer suggestions in how we can further streamline our process, and in the meantime, if you are confused about any of these steps, please come and speak with someone in the Office of Study Abroad. In the future, we are hoping to have lists of pre-approved courses available for students so that they can see what other students have gotten approved so they have an idea of what they might take.

1:38 PM
July 1st, 2013

Happy Canada Day

Today is Canada Day! On July 1, 1867, the nation was officially born when the Constitution Act joined three provinces into one country: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canada province, which then split into Ontario and Quebec. However, Canada was not completely independent of England until 1982.

So, in honor of our neighbors to the north, we give you: The Canadian National Anthem—in French!