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Foreign exchange students drawn to Miami

The University of Miami has welcomed more than 200 foreign exchange students to campus this semester, a 20 percent increase from the number of students choosing to study abroad at the university last fall semester.

This increase reflects the marked growth of UM’s study abroad programs, managed by the university’s International Education and Exchange Programs since 1994. The development of IEEP depends not only on the advertising done by both UM and its partner universities, but also word of mouth reports from the exchange students themselves.

Every year IEEP brings college students from more than 30 countries to spend a semester or two at UM, with a majority coming from Australia and England.

According to Lauren Mandel, a sophomore from Monash University in Australia, part of the reason she applied to UM for exchange was because of the school’s straightforward application process for exchange students.

“I originally applied for the University of California,” Mandel said. “I felt it was a lot harder for exchange students to go to. Whereas UM gave us a lot of information, it was very helpful during the process.”

However according Elyse Resnick, Assistant Director of IEEP, UM’s increase in popularity with foreign students may be due to the university’s recent rise in college rankings. The fact that exchange programs are becoming more popular also attracts more students.

From application process to cost and academics, exchange students find information readily at hand the moment they express interest in UM. Adam Porter, a junior from Cardiff University in Wales, received a package sent through UM detailing the cost and information he needed for his year of exchange here.

But whether the exchange programs grow or fail over the years depend on how exchange students react to their life at UM, admitted Resnick.

Porter applied when his friend who did the same exchange program recommended UM. Knowing his friend had a good time and that the university offered Marine Science courses sealed the deal.

It’s good news for IEEP when exchange students want more than just a semester’s taste of UM life.

“When I got here I just felt at home and comfortable,” said Rebecca Ivanyi, a junior from Monash University.”I’ve never had a second where I really want to be at Melbourne because as much as I miss everyone I’m so happy here that it’s hard to be homesick.”

Knowing they’re only here for a single semester, Ivanyi and Mandel are immersing themselves in as many activities as possible, from going to their first college football game to spending the weekend at the Bahamas.

UM’s school spirit, or “pep” as Porter describes it with a grin, also makes exchange students’ time here interesting.

“As reserved British people,” he said. “We don’t really get that excited about our university.”

Esther Pang may be contacted at epang@themiamihurricane.com.

October 2, 2010

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Esther Pang


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