VSU Student Receives Scholarship To Study In Spain
VALDOSTA — More than 500 students across the United States were awarded funds by the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program to spend the summer studying abroad. Twenty-six of them were from Georgia.
One is studying Spanish at Valdosta State University.
On Wednesday, June 27, she will board a plane bound for Cádiz, Spain.
“This will be my first ever study abroad experience,” said Clandra Newson, 22. “I have always wanted to study abroad, since I was in middle school, I believe. Spain was always on my list of places to visit, and to be able to kill two birds with one stone on this study abroad trip is a blessing. I am forever thankful.”
A fifth year senior from Athens, Newson heard about the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program at an ice cream social hosted by Dr. Victoria Russell, an assistant professor in VSU’s Department of Modern and Classical Languages.
“She was giving information about the (study abroad) program and spoke about funding for the program,” said the daughter of Willie and Lori Newson. “The Gilman was one of the bigger scholarships that she spoke about. I was very interested in going on this trip, so if I could get this scholarship, I knew I was going to be able to make it to Spain and study.”
Newson, who graduated from Clarke Central High School in 2008, was awarded $3,500 from the scholarship program.
“I was ecstatic,” she said. “I thanked God first and foremost and then I emailed Dr. Russell. I know I should have called my parents first, but she helped me so much through the essay writing, the application process, just everything. I am entirely grateful for having her in my life. I called my parents, who were equally thrilled. I posted on Facebook to let friends know and then I began the acceptance process.”
Without the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, Newson said that study abroad would not have been an option for her. Now, she will spend 34 days studying and interning with the Red Cross of Spain, while earning academic credit in Spanish conversation and the history of Spain.
“Very few students win this scholarship to study in Western Europe, so this is quite an achievement for Clandra,” noted Russell, who began working with Newson on the application process in October.
The Benjamin A Gilman International Scholarship Program offers grants to United States citizens of limited financial means interested in pursuing academic studies abroad at the undergraduate level. The program is funded through the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000 and sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.
Newson expects to graduate from VSU with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish in the fall of 2013. She hopes to then enter VSU’s College of Nursing and pursue an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
On the Web:
More on the Study Abroad in Cádiz, Spain Program
• A total of 23 VSU students are set to participate.
• Courses in Spanish language, conversation, peninsular literature, Spanish culture, geography, or civilization, and foreign language education will all be taught at the University of Cádiz, located in Andalucía on the southern tip of Spain. Classes will focus on developing speaking proficiency rather than on grammar.
• The program costs $4,850 plus VSU tuition. Financial aid money, such as that from the Georgia HOPE Scholarship Program and the Federal Pell Grant Program, can be used to help defray the cost of the study abroad program. Additional local, as well as national, funding options are available.
• The cost of the program includes round-trip airfare from Atlanta to Madrid, rail and other transportation within Spain, three nights in Madrid, room and board for four weeks in Cádiz, weekly laundry service, health insurance, program fees at the University of Cádiz, overnight excursions to Córdoba and Toldeo, and excursions to Sevilla, Pueblos Blancos, and Puerto de Santa María.
To learn more about study aboard opportunities at VSU, please contact the Center for International Programs at www.valdosta.edu/cip or (229) 333-7410.
GERMANY – PREPARING STUDENTS FOR THEIR DREAMS ONE BUS TICKET AT A TIME
“We have never been a melting pot. The fact is we are more like a tossed salad. We are green, some of us are oily and there’s a little vinegar injected when you get up to Ottawa.” — Arnold Edinborough
VALDOSTA, Georgia (Feb. 19, 2013)—From study abroad trips to student assistantships, VSU’s Natalie Tanner is definitely becoming a tossed salad. A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Tanner is currently majoring in International Business at Valdosta State, with a minor in German.
With hopes of one day making a career out of international business, as a sophomore in college, Tanner already has quite a bit of experience under her belt. Midway through her freshman year she decided she wanted to study abroad, and by January of the following year, she was already in Germany, studying politics and cultural studies at Zeppelin University. Zeppelin is a privately funded business and research university in the quaint, lakeside town of Friedrichshafen, located in Southern Germany, along the banks of the Bodensee (Lake Constance).
During her six-month stay in Germany, Tanner attended classes with 800 Zeppelin students and around twenty-five other International students, representing countries from all over the world, like Taiwan, Denmark, Mexico, Brazil, China, and Japan. These classes were taught in English, which, being her native language, gave Tanner a natural advantage over the other International students.
“Since the German students already took classes in English, the International students did as well. Being from America, I knew English already, and German is my minor, so it definitely made things easier for me. But for the other Internationals, it was more difficult; they were taking classes in their non-native language while in Germany, a country whose host language was also foreign to them.”
While there, these twenty-five International students became completely immersed in German culture. Once enrolled at Zeppelin, they were responsible for finding housing, transportation, classes, and food. The students literally lived, learned, and breathed German. Classes were totally mixed between International and Zeppelin students, exemplifying complete integration.
Another component of being in Germany that Tanner took part in was the “Rent-an-American” program. This program consisted of Tanner traveling to several local German schools to speak to children (ranging in age from 5 to 14) about America. Representing her home country as an ambassador, Tanner loved participating in this program, because it was an opportunity for her to show off America and VSU and how much she loved living here.
For Tanner, one of the most significant cultural differences she experienced while in Germany was the demeanor of the people.
“Here,” Tanner says, “especially in the South, I feel like it’s stressed to be polite, hospitable, and sometimes even overly friendly. There though, that is not the case. Germans are more aloof. At first it is really easy to mistake that for rudeness, but then you realize that they just don’t feel like it’s necessary to be nice to complete strangers, like it is here. It’s almost like the stereotypical New York mindset — every man for himself.”
An example Tanner gives of that individualist attitude is the concept of a sleepover. Here in the US, we frequently spend the night at a friend’s house, either for a “sleepover” or “slumber party” as a child and as we grow up, crashing on a friend’s couch is completely acceptable. In Germany, however, the mentality is that it is more logical for you to go back to your own place where you are paying to live, and I will stay at my place, where I am paying to live, and there is not really a need for us to share those spaces, especially when one person can simply walk or ride home.
Riding home after a night out is easier in Germany as well. Typically, more populous German cities will have an established subway system (called a u-bahn there) that many people ride, and if the city is too small to require a subway, as was the case with Tanner in Friedrichshafen, there is generally at least a reliable bus service in its place. Tanner noticed while in Germany something she thought was strange about the busses, however; when boarding, she wasn’t checked for a ticket. However, all of the patrons still bought a ticket. In addition to this trip to Germany, Tanner had previously been there a couple of times in high school, and she cannot recall ever being checked for a bus ticket.
“It’s an honor system for them. They know that their government is supplying them with this transportation, so they’re going to buy a ticket, because it’s the respectful thing to do.”
Tanner speculates that here in America that concept would never work, because too many people would abuse it!
The education system is set up a bit differently in Germany as well. Zeppelin classes end in late April, similar to here at VSU, but in Germany, students’ finals work (exams, papers, and projects) isn’t due until mid-July, giving them approximately two months to complete. At first, Tanner thought that this concept sounded really innovative, but she soon realized that having your finals two months after classes end has its downside; while it gives students time to take a break and then come back and really tackle those projects afresh, it is also showcases procrastination at it’s finest.
After her classes were finished in April, Tanner spent the next two months working on final projects and traveling abroad in Europe. Since she knew people there from an exchange in high school, she went to Munich twice, and then Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, France, Lichtenstein, and later, Turkey. Once her rent had been paid and her finals had been completed, Tanner then started the next leg of her study abroad experience: London.
Tanner’s experience in London was different than Friedrichshafen, as this trip was set up through the European Council; here, students were not only participating from VSU, but from all over the state of Georgia. It was a much shorter trip, lasting only about three weeks, but Tanner made the best of it. While there, Tanner studied Intercultural Communication as well as Musical Theatre, a class that required her to attend several theatre performances included in the price of the trip. Her repertoire included The Wizard of Oz, Billy Elliott, Matilda, and Blood Brothers, a British tragedy about fraternal twins separated at birth.
One of Tanner’s favorite experiences while studying abroad was in London, when she lucked out and was able to attend the Wireless Festival, a music festival started in 2005 on par with New York’s Woodstock Music & Art Fair. Tanner got to see big-name musicians like Drake, Jessie J, Wiz Khalifa, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj. She says going to Wireless is definitely a “big deal,” and that it will be something she’ll have bragging rights to, for years to come. Another milestone for her was being able to see the Olympic 2012 Opening Ceremonies, an event which required her to spend an extra week in London after her European Council group returned back to the US.
Overall, Tanner says that her experiences abroad have opened her up to a completely new worldview, and given her a fresh perspective on how things in the world are done (and sometimes how they should be changed). She thinks everybody should travel abroad, given the chance, and that they shouldn’t let financial burden stand in their way. Tanner’s philosophy is that if a student wants it bad enough, the money will fall into place. To her, these were once in a lifetime opportunities, and she jumped at them.
“It was humbling,” she says, “and I feel better prepared now.” When asked for what, she simply smiles and says, “My major. My career. My dreams.”
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