Ryan Chartrand

Cal Poly will offer a new study abroad program this spring to Ludwigsburg, Germany.

The College of Liberal Arts and the College of Education started the program to provide more international exchange opportunities for liberal arts students.

“Architecture has a lot of exchange programs and so does engineering, but the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Education didn’t have any, and that was the motivation really,” said Michael Ruef, associate professor of the College of Education. “(We wanted) to get an exchange program going that specifically targeted students in these two colleges.”

Cal Poly will participate in the international exchange program with the University of Education in Ludwigsburg, a university which concentrates on liberal arts studies such as philosophy, history, music, art, political science and education, Ruef said.

“Their course of studies fit the course of studies for Cal Poly’s liberal arts and education students,” Ruef said. “Ludwigsburg is in the southwest part of Germany. The town is quaint. It has a market place and a couple Baroque castles that are very pretty. It is a medium sized city, but it is 10 miles to Stuttgart, a much larger city.”

John Battenburg, director of international education and programs and professor of English, said that studying abroad allows students to step outside their comfort zone and experience the aspects of a different culture.

“It is important to experience a new culture because you appreciate some of the things you usually take for granted,” Ruef said. “You are the foreign person so you are a minority, and even though we are both Western cultures, they do things differently. So you miss things in the United States that you may have taken for granted before.”

Students from all majors are welcome to participate in the exchange program, which provides general education courses, but they are advised to take German classes before joining the program, Ruef said.

“The international program office does not recommend freshmen go abroad,” Ruef said. “We want them to establish themselves here at Cal Poly first and then go abroad, but anyone who is remotely interested in the program should come and talk to me.

“I like talking about Europe, and they can just pick my brain and see if this might work for them. I think students like to get their ducks in a row so they aren’t losing time, and the best way to make sure that what you do in Europe counts in school is to plan.”

Cal Poly currently offers 100 programs in 36 countries including China, South Korea, Germany, France, Taiwan, Brazil and Mexico, said Battenburg. Last year, 812 students studied abroad, and two years ago, Cal Poly was ranked fourth in the nation for the number of students to study abroad in a survey.

“I just think it is very important for students to get a perspective about the world around them,” Battenburg said. “That is what we want students to get from this experience. Exchange programs can last for one quarter or a year. What we believe is that there is a study abroad program for every student.”

Scholarships are available to students in order to help launch the program, Ruef said.

“While studying abroad, students are only paying the Cal Poly tuition and can still receive their financial aid,” Ruef said. “That way the costs are very predictable. We make up a budget for every student that goes so that they know what to expect.”

For more information on the new international exchange program, students can contact Ruef at mruef@calpoly.edu or 756-6082.

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