The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

El Camino’s study abroad program draws in students with cost-effective prices

A United Airlines jet takes off from Los Angeles International Airport on May 15. From Jul. 15 to Aug. 4, El Camino students will study in Madrid, Spain. “Once students understand the little elements [of Spanish culture] that are different, they start to appreciate Spanish culture,” Study Abroad Program Director Xocoyotzin Herrera said about the effects studying abroad has on students. (Raphael Richardson | The Union)

For a number of years, El Camino College has provided students with an enriching experience of studying abroad, exposing students to a new way of life that changes their perspective on the world.

This summer, a group of El Camino students are going to embark on an international journey to Madrid, Spain to study and undergo a transformative experience. Xocoyotzin Herrera, Ethnic Studies professor and a director of the study abroad program, says that studying abroad adds to one’s knowledge of the world.

“Studying abroad allows people to understand the world beyond their comfort zone,” Herrera said.

Studying abroad is heavily encouraged at El Camino, however, there is a limited amount of space available for the summer trip to Madrid. Argelia Andrade, a Spanish professor and a director of the study abroad program, said approximately 40 students sign up to take part in the trip, but only 20 to 30 students are accepted to attend.

Andrade and Herrera have been study abroad directors since 2018 and the program continued in the summer of 2019. The program was reinstated for its third year in 2023 after the COVID-19 pandemic. 2024 marks its fourth year.

“The first year we had 21 [students], the second year we had 19 [students],” Andrade said. “Last year we had a big class, I wanna say it was 35 or 36 [students]. And then this year we do not know yet.”

Herrera said the number of enrollments increased in 2018 because more people became more aware and knew that there was a foreign study opportunity being offered.

“The first year, no one really knew about it, but we got enough students. The second year, there was a bit more. And then we went into pandemic mode, but even during the pandemic people were still asking about it,” Herrera said.

In addition to the study abroad program’s enrollment increase, there has been a slight surge in student enrollment at El Camino. There was a 10.6% increase from 2021 to 2023 according to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Data Mart, an online database containing California community college statistics.

At El Camino, there is a wide variety of people who take part in the study abroad opportunity. Since the program takes place over the summer, many students from other universities enroll at El Camino due to the lower cost and fees of the program.

“We’ve had students from Cal State Long Beach come and from UCLA because it is a cheaper program,” said Andrade.

The initial cost for the program is listed at $3,310 for the summer of 2024. This cost does not include roundtrip airfare, El Camino tuition and fees, meals, personal expenses, books, passports and visas. Ultimately, the total amount a student will be spending will be above the cost of the program.

“I think students need to budget for around $5,000,” Andrade said.

The prices of the program have fluctuated throughout the years. In 2018, the price was $3,090. In 2019, the price was listed at $3,225. In 2023, the program cost was $3,500. For this summer, the price is $3,310.

Similarly to El Camino, other Southern California community colleges offer study abroad trips. Santa Monica City College, Long Beach City College, Orange Coast College and Cerritos College all offer an international study program; however, the costs and number of enrollment vary between the colleges.

Santa Monica College enrolled 39,589 students in their 2023-2024 academic year. Taneka Washington, an art history professor and member of the study abroad committee at Santa Monica College, noticed that typically 24 students attend their study abroad trips. For their trip to Florence, Italy, this means 0.06% of their student population is joining.

“24 has been standard I believe,” Washington said, “It’s the general number.”

SMC’s trip to Florence, Italy in spring was priced at $1,009 for seven days. This is a $2,301 difference between El Camino’s study abroad, however, there is also a notable difference between the duration of the two trips. Each location also varies in cost.

Lisette Rodriguez, a study abroad coordinator at Long Beach City College, said that 20 students are attending the study abroad trip to Ireland this summer, which is in the same range of students who participate in El Camino’s and Santa Monica College’s foreign study.

Long Beach City College has enrolled 34,736 students for their 2023-2024 academic year, meaning that around 0.06% of their student population is attending a study abroad trip. The LBCC study abroad program is curated for psychology majors, but it is not limited to students studying psychology.

“For this program, there are quite a few psychology majors since they are getting psychology credit for it,” Rodriguez said. “These programs tend to pull from a lot of different majors.”

The current cost of LBCC’s trip to Ireland for 18 days during the summer is $3,895 which does not include airfare or tuition and fees.

Orange Coast College, located in Costa Mesa, enrolled 17,646 students for their 2023 Fall semester. Gladys Calderon, who was a Global Engagement Program Facilitator at OCC, said that three to four international study programs were offered per year in which all of them would be completely full.

“Every year, there were about 100 students,” Calderon said. “Between 80 and 100 students would participate.”

Cerritos College is offering two study abroad experiences this summer. Forty-four students have signed up, which is 0.2% of their 22,948 student population for the 2023-2024 academic year. In the past, Cerritos has offered one foreign study experience per year, which took 20 to 25 students.

“This summer, we’ve increased [the enrollment] because we are offering two programs,” Calderon said, who now works at Cerritos College as assistant director of International Student Services & Cultural Engagement.

According to Ana López, a senior study abroad advisor at the California State Schools, the distribution through the classes ranges. The majority of the participants of the CSU study abroad trips are third years and many students of the junior class are first-year transfer students from a community college and other universities.

“About 47% of our students are juniors or third years, 34% are sophomores and about 19% are seniors,” López said.

The California State Schools sends around 553 students per year, which includes the academic year and calendar year.

The number of CSU students who participate in an international study is proportional to their student population, resulting in the significant difference between enrollment of community college’s study abroad and CSU study abroad.

El Camino’s study abroad program continues to draw in and entice students. Twenty-year-old undecided major, Lea Pepemehmetoglu, said that she has considered attending a study abroad because of the experience of living in a different culture.

“While there’s a lot we can learn from classrooms, movies, and books, we can’t really understand a different culture and language until we’ve lived it,” Pepemehmetoglu said.

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