Pace’s adaptation of International Education Week


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Happy International Education Week, at time that celebrates the benefits of international education, studying abroad, and exchange programs

Emily Teixeira

November 18-22, 2019 is International Education Week, which celebrates the benefits of international education, studying abroad and exchange programs. It is a chance to embrace other cultures and deepen our appreciation of our place in the global community, both as a university and as students.

In honor of International Education Week, Pace hosted a guided tour of the United Nations headquarters in New York City, and Pace’s International Students and Scholars’ Instagram page ran a photo contest. Followers of the account could post a picture or video that encapsulates what their life in New York is like with a caption that explains why they like studying here. The contest opened on Monday and closed at two o’clock on Friday, and the top three winners received a “Places I’ve Visited” scratch off map of the world.

Pace also hosted informational sessions for students who wish to study abroad on Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday’s sessions offered a general overview of the study abroad process and how to go about paying for it. Some key tips the presenters gave included:

  • Know what type of study abroad trip you want to take. There are exchange and partnership programs that can last one semester to a full year, programs that occur during winter or summer break, and faculty led trips, in which students take a course, and then their class goes on a trip related to the subject matter for a few weeks at the end of the semester.
  • With exchange programs, students can use all the scholarships and aid that they normally use here at Pace. However, with partner programs, students can only transfer up to $10,000 worth of their scholarships and aid. Scholarships and aid can cover tuition, but not housing or additional fees or expenses.
  • Students in exchange or partner programs can receive a housing refund to put towards their housing accommodations abroad. However, this process takes time, and students should take it upon themselves to see how much money they will need to pay up front when they embark on their trip so they can prepare incase their refund does not come in time.
  • For faculty led trips, students pay for their normal credits, a program fee, and some travel costs. The payment method for winter and summer break trips varies. All types of trips require a $100 fee paid to OSA.
  • Students are highly encouraged to apply for additional scholarships to help cover their study abroad costs- as many as they can, and as soon as they can. There are all types of scholarships available, including scholarships specific to the trip they are taking and identity-based scholarships. (For more information on available scholarships, see Most of this year’s scholarships are already closed, but there are a few still open.)
  • Students in exchange or partner programs need to be sure they stay on top of their credit equivalency forms. This form ensures that the credits students earn at their school abroad correspond to a class here at Pace and count towards graduation.
  • Students should start looking into programs and applying at least a semester in advance and try to meet with their academic adviser to discuss the best options for them. They are also encouraged to visit one of Pace’s study abroad fairs. Fairs are held once a semester, and the next one in February 5th.
  • Study abroad is for everyone. All are welcome to take advantage of this enriching opportunity.

Thursday’s session consisted of a panel of study abroad alumni sharing their experiences with prospective study abroad students. The panel’s members included Victoria Scalanga, who did a semester long exchange program in London, Julia Kennedy, who took a faculty led trip to Denmark and Sweden, and Joseph Gonzalez, who has been to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii for MCVA Producing the Documentary trips. All three shared their favorite experiences, the ways in which those experiences enriched their lives, and tips for students hoping to study abroad in the future.

Scalanga’s time in London was spent both in classrooms and exploring the world around her. She talked about the importance of balancing studying with experience and encouraged students to try to do as much as they could and take it all in. Afterall, studying abroad is one big experiment, a chance to learn more about oneself, the world around them, and to acquire new skills, connections and networking opportunities.

While in London, Scalanga got to spend her weekends and her fall break visiting neighboring countries, including Iceland and the Netherlands. She recommends that if students on exchange or partnership trips get the chance, they stop by places outside of where they study so that they can see as much of the world as possible and make the most of their time.

While on her trip abroad, Kennedy got to tour the Abba Museum in Sweden, the Erikson Globe, and witness communities in which much of the population lived in boats. She was also exposed to an incredibly environmentally sustainable culture, where public spaces offer eight separate and specific types of recycling bins, bikes are the predominant form of personal transportation, and a shipping company created a whole new environmentally friendly method of conducting their business. It broadened her perspective on sustainable living, and she was amazed by the multilayered and impactful efforts other counties were taking, “as opposed to here where we just have paper straws.” She recommends that students taking faculty led trips get to know their classmates throughout the semester. You’ll be spending several weeks living together in another country, so you will want to make sure you develop trust and friendship in advance.    

Gonzalez described his documentary trips as “jam packed,” which is understandable when one considers all the work that goes into filming. However, despite the busy nature of the trips, he was still able to appreciate the sights and take in the culture. The trip was also a huge resume booster. Everyone he has interviewed with has wanted to hear about it, and it has become a great connection point for talking to different people.

All three of the panel members recommend that when going abroad, students should plan how they will adjust to the time difference. They should think about when they will sleep so that jet lag and tiredness don’t infringe on their experience, and coordinate times for calling friends and family back home. The panel also recommended saving money for personal spending in advance and ensuring that students have some solid grasp of the language of the place they are visiting. While students are likely to encounter people abroad who speak English, learning the native language is part of the cultural experience. It shows an interest and respect for the country they are visiting.

Skyler Lelakowski, a Business Management Major who works in student affairs, also attended the event and offered her own advice to students who wish to study abroad.

“If you can’t decide where you want to go, start with a region,” Lelkowski said. “Decide if you want to go to Europe, Asia, the Oceanic area. It narrows it down dramatically. Don’t think you can only do study abroad courses related to your major. You have your AOKs and open electives to fill too. It all depends what you want to get out of it.”

In addition to offering chances for Pace students to study in other countries, Pace also offers students from other countries the opportunity to study here. Together, Pace’s two campuses are home to roughly 2,300 international students from more than 128 countries. Freshman Communications majors Lyson Zhang from China and Dina Khusnidinova from Russia shared their stories about deciding to come to Pace and what their time here has been like so far.

Zhang started attending an international school in sixth grade, so she has known since then that she wanted to study in another country. Her high school counselor introduced her to Pace. She researched the school on her own time and was drawn to the beauty of the campus and the career-oriented opportunities offered. Her application process was made easier by the fact that she was already at an international school, so her counselor was equipped and ready to help her through it all.

While Zhang had difficulties with the language and attuning her sleep schedule to the time zone difference, her experience here so far has been positive.

“I like the weather and the beautiful environment here,” she said. “I have made some friends in classes and with my roommates.”

Zhang considers Pace’s career-related programs to be a great benefit of coming here. She thought that the career fair held in the gym in the fall was a great method for helping students find jobs. In terms of her own career goals, Zhang hopes to get into the film industry, or a job related to media and advertising.

Khusnidinova describes her decision to study abroad as “spontaneous.” She studied abroad two years ago and when a friend told her about this school, she did further research on it. She liked what she saw and chose to come here. Her application process felt a bit more complicated, because she did it all on her own. It was stressful, but worth it for her in the end.

Like Zhang, Khusnidinova has faced obstacles due to the language, but her teachers, roommates, and new friends have been more than willing to help her. The fact that she is an international student served as an icebreaker for her when she first arrived, allowing her to better immerse herself in this new place.

“I have made a lot of friends,” she said. “When you say that you are not from the United States, it’s just like, ‘Woah, where are you from?’ And they try to ask you all these questions.”

Khusnidinova is glad she came to Pace. She admires its career-oriented opportunities. She also has hopes to explore more of the world next year and study abroad, so she appreciates all the opportunities Pace offers in that regard.

In terms of post-graduation plans, Khusnidinova is not positive of what she wants to do. She is interested in both the film industry and the business world. She hopes to find a way to work both of those aspects into her career. However, she sees college as the best time and place to figure it all out.

Pace’s International Education Week was jam packed with informative info sessions.