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University at Albany, SUNY Programs

India

India: WE BUILD

UAlbany partners with Global Citizens for Sustainable Development (GCSD) to offer India: WE BUILD - Summer Study Abroad Program in India; Indian Culture, Development Issues...

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Italy

Study Abroad in Italy at the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

The University at Albany's exchange affiliation with the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC) in Milan was developed for students who want to study at a regular Italian...

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Puerto Rico

Study Abroad in Puerto Rico at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazon

The University at Albany offers study abroad opportunities in Puerto Rico through its partnership with the Universidad del Sagrado Corazon in San Juan. Originally established...

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Belize

Belize: Cross-Cultural Exploration of Teaching and Learning

The University at Albany’s Office of International Education in cooperation with the Department of Literacy Teaching and Learning offers the opportunity to work with teachers...

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Scotland

Summer Options at the University of Glasgow, Scotland

Have an enriching experience while studying abroad with University at Albany, SUNY! Participate in a three-week summer study abroad program in Glasgow at the University of...

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Scotland

University of Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow, Scotland, is an ideal study abroad location to students who are interested in Scottish history and culture. Degree-seeking students can enroll in a semester program...

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Scotland

Functional Anatomy in Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow is known for its friendly and welcoming ambience mixed with rich Scottish history and culture. It is a perfect location for students to study abroad. The University...

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Scotland

Education in a Globalized World in Glasgow, Scotland

Study at the University of Glasgow in a program from the University at Albany, SUNY! Get an overview of Scottish education in a three-week summer study program. Gain a wider...

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England

Regent's University London: School of Fashion and Design

Regent's University London is one of the UK's most respected independent universities and one of the most internationally diverse, with students from more than 140 different...

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England

Regent's University London: American College London: Summer

In a city of almost seven million people, it is hard to imagine that anyone would not be intellectually stimulated by the cultural diversity of this metropolis. London boasts...

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England

Regent's University: American College London

Regent's University London is one of the UK's most respected independent universities and one of the most internationally diverse, with students from more than 140 different...

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England

Regent's University London

Regent's University London is one of the UK's most respected independent universities and one of the most internationally diverse, with students from more than 140 different...

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England

Faculty Led: The Monarchy, Fairy Tales, and Courtly Love

Study abroad in London, a city that offers a fascinating mix of old and new. Students will find so much to do and see. Resplendent with history, the city offers a great atmosphere...

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates: American University of Ras al Khaimah

Study abroad at the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) in United Arab Emirates. An independent co-education institution of Higher Education, AURAK offers an integrated...

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University at Albany, SUNY Reviews

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

A global citizens's experience

I had the opportunity of a lifetime to live, study, and work with international students from all over the world in Bangalore, India. The program, WE BUILD 2011, was sponsored by the Indian non-profit Global Citizens for Sustainable Development (GCSD) and centered around this idea of what it means to be a global citizen. What made it a truly unique experience was that after studying Indian culture, development issues and global social justice movements, we were able to contribute to sustainable development in India by partaking in a 10 day building project in rural Bangalore. Living and working with students from China, Russia, Ireland, Kuwait, and Scotland, I had the opportunity to understand what life is like for 20-year olds across the globe and explore the common issues and concerns we share as a youth. What’s more, to hear a family be so grateful simply to not have to sleep in the rain anymore truly put our work in perspective on the gifts we take for granted every day.

Beyond our service learning project, we saw multiple aspects of Indian life and culture as we traveled around the southern portion of the country. Visiting various Hindu temples and colonial palaces, the Indian past came to life as we saw the relics of Muslim conquests, Hindu dynasties, and British colonial rulers. In the first few days, we set out to explore the city of Bangalore via GCSD’s very own Amazing Race, a version of the television game show where we split up into teams and raced across the city to find clues leading us to our final destination. Although my team didn’t win (I still say everyone else cheated!) it was a great opportunity to work together in developing not only teamwork but moreover open communication in a multi-cultural setting, a skill that, working in international relations, I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

From riding an elephant to participating in the building a house to teaching a group of international students the American ‘traditional dance’ of the Cha-Cha Slide, my time in India with GCSD offered the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and work and live in a completely new environment, which was certainly a challenge at times in dealing with a different culture but provided with me insight on how a great portion of our world lives. Beyond that, I formed valuable friendships with young, energized and motivated students just like myself who hope, just as I do, to bring back their real-world knowledge on sustainability and development to not only their home countries, but furthermore to future international volunteer projects abroad.

Program: India: WE BUILD

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

A program that has truly changed my life forever

This past winter, I experienced a trip that has truly changed my life forever. As a senior in college, I am fortunate enough to have been granted to opportunity to travel to many different countries. I always knew before I graduated though, I was adamant about being a part of a study abroad program. Once I applied and was accepted into the Field Study of Development Issues program in India, I was a little hesitant, wondering if I should have chosen somewhere more “progressed” for my own comfort ability. I decided to stick with the program, which was by far, the best decision I have ever made.

My experience in India was like no other in all of my travels. This was because in India, I was a part of the Global Citizens for Sustainable Development program hosted by John Anugraha. Global Citizens for Sustainable Development’s (GCSD) mission is to “To engage and empower children, youth, men and women to sustain communities, cultures and societies while promoting improvement in their social, economic and environmental conditions through the notion of human responsibilities.” Although we were just a small group of seven this winter, we were able to experience all of the amazing features India has to offer. Through this program, we were able to experience the city life from New Delhi down to Bangalore as well as being able to understand and participate in the lives of the families in the villages, which are two very different extremes.

We started off in the North, in New Delhi, where we were able to walk through the most amazing temples and masques in the world while interacting with the street venders. We learned how to use “rupees,” India’s money currency as well as embrace the cultural values as we walked barefoot through many of India’s sacred temples. We were given lectures on religion and the geography of India, as well as the caste system, which does still exist today. Our group specifically, was able to sit in on a very important conference on Global Consciousness and Global Citizenship during our stay in Delhi, where we heard the different views on important political and environmental issues from some of India’s most influential speakers including our own Indian course director, John Anugraha.

We were able to visit the exquisite Taj Mahal, where we learned the beautiful but somewhat dark story as to why and how it was constructed, as well as seeing the historical Red Fort. These are just a couple of the stops we made along our journey that stood out to me the most. Every different place we stopped we were given a complete description of what we were seeing and why it is important to India.
Throughout our journey we experienced an amazing assortment of foods, eating every few hours had become exhausting over time but the food had so many exotic flavors we could not resist. We were able to pick up the dining etiquette of India within just the few weeks we were there. Some of our group members even learned some Hindi, one of the native languages of India. We were submerged into the Indian culture and loved every single moment of it.
Once we landed in Bangalore, I can speak for the seven of us traveling in this group, that we all fell in love with this city. We had been given the opportunity to compare and contrast New Delhi and Bangalore within a matter of weeks. We saw the life of the streets in Delhi and the warm sun and hospitality in Bangalore. Little did I know when arriving, Bangalore would be the one city out of all of my travels to captivate my heart.
Once settled in the Bangalore, we spent a lot of time learning about more political issues that the people of India faced. We created presentations to share our perspectives as Global Citizens on the topics put before us. We traveled into small villages and literally sat down and spoke with the families who lived here. Being with these families was a once in a lifetime experience; its essence could never be explained in words. The way their homes were constructed, what they were constructed of, where they worked, how much money they made, how often they shopped, how long they have lived there, all of these were questions that the families answered for us, to give us a better understanding of their everyday lives. The people of the villages were so pleased and gracious to welcome us into their homes. It was an experience that will be with all of us for our lives.

Another influential moment for me was wearing my GCSD shirt that read on my back, “I’m a Global Citizen”, and helping construct a home for a single mother who was a teacher of the village we were visiting. She and her son worked side by side with us as we cemented their newly constructed home, while her daughter and many other village children taught us hand games and performed dances for us. We spent the day playing with these kids. Although there was a language barrier, amazingly, we all understood one another. Also, we spent time at Living Hope, a home for children where a community is built and the kid’s education is top priority. They sang and danced for us and even gave us a tour of their housing. We spent the evening playing games with them and had the best time. It took us all back to when we were children. So many adults do not take the time to appreciate life, and being at Living Hope made us realize how simple and pleasant life can be.

Last, but most definitely not the least, VEDIKE. VEDIKE was the most amazing, most humbling, and inspirational idea, which came to life. VEDIKE is an eco-residential school in the making, which bases the ideas on ecological responsibility, to educate and empower, to create a nurturing and green environment, working hands on with international students and letting nature lead. I saw the ways in which these ideas have become a reality. While staying at the VEDIKE, we met the six boys there at this time. Our memories are still afresh and we remember our stay with them, especially, Ashok, the smallest of them, yet an enormous personality, Sai, who was shy, yet opened up to us so much throughout our time there, Naveen, one of the best cricket players I have met yet, and of course, Manjunatha, the educational leader of the group, with the warmest smile. These kids taught us more than anything else on this trip. The struggles they had been through before they became students at VEDIKE, and just how happy they were. VEDIKE has changed their lives so much; they are all so intelligent and have inspiring dreams for their future. VEDIKE has given the boys hope, when their previous environments didn’t offer a platform for them to grow. That is the purpose of VEDIKE, a stepping-stone, a platform for change in these children’s lives. Leaving these boys was the absolute most difficult and emotionally draining part of my entire trip throughout India. I felt like I had known them for a lifetime. I cried my eyes out having to say goodbye to them. I never knew these little boys would ever impact my life in the way they did and for that, they will always have my heart.
As I said, I was hesitant at the last minute before heading to India, but the goal of this journey for me personally was to become inspired. I didn’t know how I would accomplish this or what exactly would inspire me but somewhere along the trip I knew my life had changed. I found what I was looking for in so many more ways than one. Religiously, spiritually, emotionally, in life, in education, in personal happiness, in all of these aspects of life, I have become inspired and I know I am a better person because I was a part of GCSD. It is a challenge for most, to go outside of our comfort zones but once we do, we can see how fulfilling a new experience can be. Even though I could continue for days about the ways in which being a Global Citizen of Sustainable Development changed and challenged my life along with discussing all of the fun activities we took part in, I truly hope this will inspire you to reach out, or even take interest in the GCSD and VEDIKE programs offered. It really is an amazing experience that you will only be able to experience through these specific programs offered.

Program: India: WE BUILD

Overall Rating

8 / 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

My Milano

In my opinion, Milan is one of the most underrated study-abroad locations -- as long as you're willing to do a little exploring. My main goals in studying abroad were to improve my Italian, to interact with locals, and to see historical and artistically rich sights. Most of the students in my program were there primarily for vacation-type activities, like the night life and the chance to jet off to a different country every weekend. Milan is fantastic for either, although it was unfortunate for me that the others in my program were there for different reasons than I was (I have no idea whether this is typical or not).

As I said above, I took mostly English-language classes focused on Italian history and culture, and I got a lot out of them. For the most part, the instructors are high-quality, and it was awesome how much they connected to the surrounding culture. I lived in an off-campus apartment with other Americans and could commute by bus or by train. Both MIL Service, which handled the administration of the apartment, and the staff of the academic program were very supportive.

Milan for me was the perfect city for a semester abroad because while it is international enough that you can fall back on English, it's also not touristy enough that you can (or should) use English exclusively. There are awesome sights like da Vinci's Last Supper and the Duomo, but there are also lots of hidden gems as well as the chance to meet locals living authentically.

Overall, this was an excellent program that provided me with a great experience, and I would definitely recommend it.

Academics:
Other than my Italian language class, I took all my classes in English -- one at Cattolica and one through the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), which is next door to Cattolica and which Albany allows cross-registration with. The instructors were all good, reasonable-to-better-than-reasonable graders, and interested in their subjects. Also, all the classes I took gave me substantial insight into Italian/Milanese culture, so I really felt enriched by my classes.

Living Situation:
It's hard for me to be objective about this because I had a very negative experience with my roommates (all Americans), which was just bad luck and not really the fault of the program. Trying to put that aside, I would say that MIL Service, the agency I used, provides decent furnished apartments that in some cases are sort of far from the university and the center of the city. It's very convenient, though, that their office is inside Cattolica's international hallway, and they respond quickly and well to problems.

Cultural Immersion:
If you take classes in English, you will be with other international students (primarily Americans), so you will have to seek out opportunities for immersion on your own. Fortunately, there are plenty of such opportunities,

Program Administration:
Everyone was very helpful and kind. Francesca is really sweet!

Program: Study Abroad in Italy at the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Academics

    5

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Universidad de Sagrado Corazon - San Juan, PR

Academic quality: coming from the competitive atmosphere of Davidson college, my classes were really easy, even though they were all taught in Spanish. I took a mix of classes, mostly those that weren't offered at Davidson, include a Communications class, Oral Speaking, World Religions, Film and a Government class. Even though Spanish is my second language (at best), I didn't find the course load to be difficult as homework was minimal and tests/papers weren't lenghty. However, be sure to double-confirm with you school about credits before you choose your classes; my one spanish film class ended up not counting towards my major, as the level wasn't high enough. Nonetheless, all of my classes counted as credits towards graduation which was a plus.

Party atmosphere: Party life on campus was virutually non-existent given the stringent rules of dorm life. However, that didn't keep us from going out and having a good time. One of the huge pluses about this program was that it fully integrated us into Puerto Rican culture and with a group of barely 10 exchange students from all over the world, we quickly found the local hang outs. Santurce itself isn't the safest place to be wandering after dark, but plenty of places nearby that are a short cab or car ride away.

Living situation: I chose to live on campus in the dorms, as did most of the other exchange students. Best part was that they paired us with current students rather that housing us all together. Current Sagrado students can volunteer to live with an exchange program, which meant that roommates weren't completely random. My roommate, Janice, was wonderful - forced me to speak Spanish, brought me home multiple times to meet her family and fiance (now husband- their wedding was gorgeous)! My other exchange student friends had very similar experiences with their roommates, and for me it formed an instand friend group and connection to local life. However, dorm life is somewhat of a bubble, given that the Catholic school requires separate buildings for men and women, with curfews and "hang out rooms" on the first floor where the guys and girls can hang out together. Despite how that sounds, I rarely felt this was a burden because the curfews are reasonable and weekend rules are more flexible.

Cultural exposure: I can't say enough about this one - definitley top notch. I was looking for a program that would allow me to be be fully integrated as a student rather than a tourist in a foreign town for 6 months. Living on campus, taking classes on campus, joining the swim team, all allowed me full cultural integration to the point where I felt like a Puerto Rican college student.

Program administration: While some of my fellow exchange students had some problems with credit transfers and processing, I found the program administration to be supurb, far and above the regular university administration. Our program leader was very involved in our activities and daily life, by being a support system when we were homesick to organizing weekly field trips (optional but we all went). She also worked very closely with the Resident Advisor for the dorms, which was really important in my opinion.

Overall, I would highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to go to Puerto Rico (particularly if you like having some of the comforts of home, like working cell phones and some recognizable brand names in the grocery store). I will say, however, that you will need to make a concerted effort to break away from the other exchange students, but if you live on campus take advtange of the other students there and make friends.

Program: Study Abroad in Puerto Rico at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazon