Home Campus You don’t need to study abroad to get a cross-cultural experience

You don’t need to study abroad to get a cross-cultural experience

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Students at Ohio U looking to broader their horizons might consider a study abroad trip, but students can learn about other cultures without ever leaving Athens. File Photo by Connor Perrett.

Students at Ohio U looking to broaden their horizons might consider a study abroad trip, but students can learn about other cultures without ever leaving Athens.

Every year, more and more students from all around the world choose to study abroad, and the majority of them are coming to you.

The International Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reported a total of 3.7 million students who chose to study abroad in 2009, a dramatic increase from the 800,000 students in 1975. The numbers are even more impressive in 2017, as Unesco’s Institute for Statistics finds they are growing by 12 percent annually.

While hopping on a plane for your own study abroad adventure may be one way to gain a cross-cultural experience, it’s not the only way.

As a large research university, Ohio University has more than just a large international undergraduate student population. It also hosts international students in its graduate studies through various programs.  

One such program is Channel, a two-year study abroad fully funded by the Egyptian government. The program sends Egyptian scientists to the U.S. to receive research training and to increase their fluency in English. The program also includes a chance for the American professor to visit Egypt after the completion of the work and vice versa.

Hebaallaha Hussein, a PhD student in the program at Ohio U, has learned about more than just molecular biology in her time here in Athens.

“You know, you can read about a place all you want,” Hussein said.

“I did that. But you can never really understand it until you have been there.”

But the learning is not one-sided here. Hussein has plenty to teach Athens about itself.

She says she finds Ohio U’s campus welcoming and that the people who live here have been very friendly. But there are some difficulties with the small size of Athens that can make finding a job, even with a permit, rare.

“You just don’t see international people working at stores like Walmart and Kroger here,” Hussein said.

She’s been pleased with the school community, however, where two of her children are currently enrolled.

“You can tell they really try their best for the children,” Hussein said.

She took part in this past Ramadan at the Islamic Center at Ohio U’s campus, where she invited people she met through her lab to join her in the feasts. And whenever she wasn’t in the lab this summer, she was in her English class. The majority of scientific presentations in Egypt are in English.

When Hussein returns to Egypt, she will be going back not just to write and make her thesis defense. She will also be teaching what she has learned from Ohio U’s well-stocked facilities to the scientists who have not yet had the opportunity to study abroad.

Besides lab techniques, she also plans to share what she has learned about international collaboration.

And to Americans, she encourages a visit to Egypt for its tourism.

“Come and watch our country,” Hussein said. It is a chance to learn about different cultures and different people, along with how they practice science.

“You can get much much more experience this way.”

In the future, Hussein thinks about going abroad again for her post-doctoral research. She believes just as continued international collaboration in all fields is important, so is a personal effort to continue that collaboration. She also looks forward to Egypt’s participation in the 2018 World Cup with Russia as another sign of international unity.

While Hussein encourages people to go abroad if they can, she also demonstrates that you don’t have to travel far to find the international collaboration already happening wherever you may be.

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