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The Appalachian

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Appalachian State University’s Office of International Education and Development has gained impressive national notoriety over the past few years, but its employees are still set on improving the office’s numbers.

The Office of International Education and Development is in charge of exchange programs, Appalachian students who study abroad and international students that come to the university.

According to the Office of International Education and Development’s 2013-14 annual report, Appalachian ranks sixth nationally for the number of students studying abroad among master’s institutions and fourth for the number of students who study abroad for short-term.

Also according to the report, for the 2013-14 academic year, 1,047 students studied abroad, which produces a 25 percent participation rate, while the national rate is 14 percent. To compare, the university had just 828 students studying abroad in the 2009-10 school year.

Chanel Frisco, assistant director of the Office of International Education and Development said students have a diverse array of opportunities for study abroad, including short-term trips such as during winter and spring breaks.

“We sometimes have students go for half semesters, and then we also have semester and year programs where students can go more independently to another university,” Frisco said.

The office additionally works with international students who come to Appalachian to help the students adjust, Frisco said.

“We’ll also get them involved in some cultural activities,” Frisco said. “We’ll pair them with community members and we’ll get them host families. They don’t live with them, but they’ll interact with them several times a semester.”

There are about 26 countries that have direct partnerships with Appalachian, Frisco said. Donald White, Program Coordinator for the Office of International Education and Development, said that adds up to nearly 60 university partnerships.

While Appalachian has partnerships with many international universities, students are allowed to choose to study at almost any university, partnership or not, so long as there is not a travel warning for the country, White said. He added a limitation is that students cannot receive financial aid while studying at a non-partnership university.

White credited the recovering economy as a large reason students are studying abroad more frequently within recent years.

“I also think it’s the global economy aspect,” Frisco said. “People are starting to recognize that employers are looking for people to work with them that have intercultural skills, so it definitely helps career wise and in looking for a job.”

As for international student statistics, those have been on the rise as well. According to the report, in the 2009-10 academic year there was a total of 115 international students, but the most recent numbers for the 2013-14 year shows an increase to 181.

Frisco said the Office of International Education and Development provides a lot of support to the students during their time at Appalachian, thus making the school a good fit for students who want to attend the university.

“A lot of the students while they’re here say they feel the ‘Appalachian family’ theme,” Frisco said. “The programs here are quality and the students feel like they’re well supported. The location of the school, although it’s rural, has a safe feel to it, so the students feel safe here.”

Frisco and White said the numbers have been changing in several aspects, including the countries students visit, the majors students who study abroad are in and the gender balance of students studying abroad. Additionally, degree-seeking international students are increasingly studying abroad.

“The population of students that are studying abroad are starting to diversify, whether it be major, race, gender or economic backgrounds, which is nice,” Frisco said. “Also, we’re seeing an increase in males who study abroad. It used to be mostly females, and now it seems like we’re getting a little bit more.”

Frisco said students have increasingly been wanting to go to more diverse locations, as opposed to the traditionally popular destinations such as Spain, the United Kingdom or Australia.

“We’re seeing an increase in different types of students who are studying abroad – there’s more diversity in the students who are studying abroad,” Frisco said. “Instead of just, and not that there’s anything wrong with just wanting to go to Europe, but people are starting to expand their horizons a little bit like China, South Africa, South Korea.”

Story: Nicole Caporaso, Senior News Reporter

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