Students gain support in study abroad programs

75 international students from more than 23 countries find Allegheny


Photo by Meghan Hayman

Allegheny hosts international students from a variety of contries, including China, Nigeria, Brazil and more. They also participate in an exchange program with universities in France, Japan, and Morocco, sending American students to study abroad.

Different food, different customs, different culture and, for 69 out of the 75 international students, a different language as well.

Welcome to life as an international student at Allegheny College. How did you get here? Why did you come?

The international community at Allegheny is made up of degree seeking students, exchange students and teaching assistants. Some of them have travelled as far as 9,450 miles to get here.

Allegheny currently has 46 full time international students. They come from all over the world, including: United Kingdom, Israel, Norway, New Zealand, Canada, Indonesia, Togo, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Singapore, four from Japan, three from Vietnam, three from South Korea and 22 from China.

These students commit to four years away from home or anything else familiar. Often the only times they will return home is over winter or summer break or on some occasions not at all.

Masaya Sugimoto, ’16, transferred to Allegheny for his second year. He said he wanted to study political sciences and international studies in America and found out Allegheny has a quality program and good reputation for academics. He used an agency and paid $6,000 to employ their help finding a school and their assistance through the application process. He said the agency gave Allegheny College a good review and he is happy here.

29 students are here for just one year, sometimes only six months. This year these exchange students come from Japan, Taiwan, France, Morocco and Brazil. Allegheny has a dual-exchange program with Al Akhawayan University (Morocco), Université Catholique de I’Ouest (France) and Keio University (Japan). This means that Allegheny students go to these schools on an exchange, and students from these universities come here as well.

Matthieu Dutil is the exchange student from Université Catholique de I’Ouest this year. He said that from his first year of college, he knew he wanted to come to America and study in his third year, which he is doing now. He said he researched the school and talked to people who had come here before.

“I could choose three different colleges, Allegheny was my first choice. Compared to others, it had what I was looking for: This was the best for me…and I was right,” said Dutil. “I love it.”

However the 20 Brazilian exchange students weren’t so lucky when it came to getting their first pick: in fact many of them had never heard of Allegheny College before they found out they would be spending a year here. These 20 students are here through the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program, formerly Science Without Borders, run by the Institute of International Education.

        Carlos Oliveira, a Brazilian exchange student, said Allegheny was not in his top three choices; he had never even heard of it before. The same can be said for Herikson Lima, another Brazilian student.

        “When I heard, I thought I wouldn’t have as many opportunities,” said Lima. “But that’s not true. I found professors that help me a lot. I’m happy.”

        These students applied to this program and suggested the top three schools that they would like to go to. IIE has the final say of where students are placed and this semester saw 18 new Brazilians arrive at Allegheny College, in addition to the two that were here from last semester.

The final contingent of exchange students is made up of the teaching assistants who come through the Fulbright Teaching Assistants program or the Alliance for Language and Teaching Exchange, teaching fellow program. Allegheny has teaching assistants from China, Germany, France, Spain, Brazil and Yemen. These students are contracted to work 12 hours a week and have their tuition, food and living paid for.

        This gives them the opportunity to study in another country and work on their teaching skills. This duality is one of the main attractions for the German teaching assistant, Katharina Schulz.

        Schulz is required to spend at least three months abroad as part of her English major at her home university in Cologne, Germany but she never intended on coming to America. It was by accident that she ended up at a seminar about study abroad in America, but as she listened to the opportunities for people to do teacher training she thought this is exactly what she wanted to do.

        “This program is very unique…It’s mainly a great teaching experience for me…I can get teaching experience and I am allowed to study,” she said.

        She started looking into the Allegheny home website the minute she decided she wanted to travel the 4,000 miles to Meadville, Pa.

Shulz said its very easy to come to Allegheny as an international student however she sometimes feels a disconnect between the international community and the rest of the college.

“In my classes I’m the only international student. There are people who are friendly but I don’t have a close relationship with them,” Shulz said. “The only people I am close with are people who are interested in languages or international cultures. It’s great that we stick together but sometimes I feel we are apart from the other students here.”