by Kit Murray
This time last year, the National Student Exchange sent a record high of 56 students around the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico to study for a semester. In a typical year, 35-40 MSUM students sign up for the program.
NSE coordinator Sherry Estrem said when students return, they generally tell her the exchange was a “life-changing experience.”
The program already has 36 students signed up for the 2016-2017 exchange. Estrem said she expects the number to grow. MSUM students are looking forward to learning next year at schools like the University of Colorado — Colorado Springs, Northern Arizona University and Queens College in New York.
Estrem said she helps students find locations that appeal to them and classes offered relevant to their studies. Credits are easily transferred once returning to MSUM, she said, adding that NSE is an affordable opportunity for students wanting to travel and study. Host universities offer tuition and fees that match those of students’ original schools.
“Generally, studying through NSE is a less expensive option than studying abroad,” Estrem said. “In addition, students can also use NSE to participate in the host school’s international study opportunities.”
NSE, a nonprofit, gives students the chance to travel within the country at a substantially lower cost than studying abroad, Estrem said. Next year, MSUM has 36 students signed up to study in places like Hawaii, New Mexico and New York. The university students tend to gravitate toward is the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
More than forty years ago, MSUM started its NSE program and became one of the first 25 institutions to join. Since, the university has sent hundreds of students on exchange. Places they can choose range throughout the U.S. to Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Film studies junior Emerald Moe-Zinn traveled to Northridge, California, last spring and strongly recommends the program to other students. Moe-Zinn said taking a break from her campus involvement at MSUM allowed her to truly absorb the experience of studying somewhere new.
“It’s so fun … it’s an experience,” she said. “I got to go down there and not have any responsibilities. I truly got to experience it rather than have to worry about a million other things.”
Enrolled at California State University, Northridge, Moe-Zinn said she acquainted herself with courses outside her major and broadened her interests. She took courses in women’s studies, geography, philosophy and even enrolled in ballet and intro to sign language.
Moe-Zinn said there are benefits to being exposed to an unfamiliar location. The opportunity to live somewhere else and gain new experiences is something Estrem said she hopes students continue to take advantage of.