Study abroad at San Diego State University expands horizons

San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus student Abraham Garcia is well on his way to becoming a world traveler.

The criminal justice major has already spent a year in Tokyo and several months in Moscow. He is now hoping to head to Frankfurt, Germany, for another study-abroad program this summer.

“He’s one of our bravest students who took the challenge and went for it,” said Miriam Castañón, SDSU-IV international programs coordinator. “He’s now truly a world citizen.”

San Diego State University offers more than 335 education abroad programs in 52 countries. There’re even more independent programs students can do, Castañón said.

Most students do short-term programs in the summer for three to eight weeks while others do full semester or yearlong programs.

Castañón said the most popular country students went to last year was China while Spain has been most popular so far this year.

The classes students can take vary according to their studies and needs.

“If a student wants to, we can find them a program,” she said.

Garcia has spent most of his life in Calexico and first began exploring the world in 2009 when he decided to study for a year in Tokyo. He said his interest in anime originally drew his interest in Japan but then he grew to love the culture, food and people.

“I think the hospitality of the country is one-of-a-kind,” he said.

Garcia spent last summer in Moscow.

He said the summer’s heat and the sometimes hostile attitudes of the people surprised him, but he enjoyed meeting other travelers and the exposure to different countries.

“It broadens your knowledge. You get to discover other cultures and get to meet all kinds of people and get to know something else besides the Valley,” he said.

Garcia speaks French, Japanese, Spanish and English.

“He’s definitely a jewel. We’re delighted to have him as an ambassador both abroad and to other students,” Castañón said.

Castañón said students like Garcia return with an advantage.

“They get to explore the world with their own eyes,” she said. “They expand their world view completely.”

While students often feel like they can’t afford to study abroad or are scared to, Castañón said that’s no reason not to go. She said students can fund-raise, apply for loans, save money from financial aid or receive scholarships.

“Study abroad is not for rich people,” she said. “It’s for people willing to work for those goals.”

She said those interested in programs this summer should apply soon as deadlines approach.

“If you take the challenge and that step, you’ll see how much of the world is in our reach,” she said.

Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or

Picture and story from Imperial Valley Press

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