Each semester, foreign exchange students bring their cultures and desires to learn to the University of La Verne. This past semester, we welcomed four.
This year, the University of La Verne welcomed four international students—some stayed only for a semester, while some are still here and will be for the rest of the school year—as exchange students. This is a year in which the number of international students has decreased a lot. Although during the past several semesters the number of exchange students was increasing, this semester students will not have the chance to meet too many foreign students at ULV.
Although the quantity of international students is small, their diversity is great. Each of the four students is from a different country: Sebastian Duroux is from France, Daniela Bravo is from Ecuador, Haruna Tabata is from Japan and Philip Hütteroth is from Germany.
Duroux, a 23-year-old business major, will spend two semesters at ULV. After his studies here are done, he said he plans to go back to France to work. Duroux said he is having an awesome time in California. The main reason he chose La Verne as his host university in America: the near-perfect Southern California weather.
“It is so great to have this weather,” Duroux said. “Especially for me, someone from France—where the climate is much different than the one here.”
For now, Duroux is enjoying American culture, and said he especially likes going to places like Venice Beach or downtown Los Angeles. “I am loving every minute here in California,” Duroux said.
Bravo, the Ecuadorian student, said she likes the atmosphere at La Verne.
“I like ULV pretty much, and I also like people I have met here a lot,” Bravo said. “I also like the fact that the university is small because then classes are not full at all and learning is much easier.”
Bravo went on to say that the people she has met at the University of La Verne have helped make her experience here a positive one. She loves living in the U.S., and her exchange program allows her to spend the full academic year at ULV. Bravo said her life is easy here, and she enjoys the carefree environment she has found herself in. She goes to class and lives in the dorms, which she says is very convenient. Once in a while, she takes advantage of the trips organized by the International and Study Abroad Center.
“Here I have met really nice people—my roommate takes really good care of me, and my professors are really involved also,” Bravo said. “I think Phil Hofer [the director of student services] at the International and Study Abroad Center does a great job, too.”
Like Duroux, Bravo said she has found her favorite spots in Southern California.
“I love traveling,” Bravo said. “I have visited different parts of Los Angeles, and my favorite place is Santa Monica, for sure.”
Bravo said she also hopes she can teach others while she herself is learning from her study abroad experience.
“The main goal I have here at the moment is to learn and to share things about myself with other cultures,” Bravo said. “I also want to use this experience to become a more independent person.”
Tabata, who is from the north of Japan and is studying at La Verne for the entire school year, said although she couldn’t select the American university she attended, she is happy that she ended up here.
“I couldn’t choose which university I wanted to go to, because my university and many universities in the U.S. have connections,” Tabata said. “So my university chooses who goes where. But La Verne was a university that I wanted to go to. I was lucky.”
Like some of the other exchange students at ULV, Tabata finds the weather and the location very positive points the university has to offer. She likes it here so much because in her community in Japan, the weather is pretty cold.
Hütteroth, the German exchange student, is a business administration major. He is also minoring in accounting and business tax. He will spend only one semester here at the University of La Verne. In his home country, he goes to college at the huge University of Marburg in Frankfurt, Germany. His arrival at La Verne marked a big change in his life, mostly with respect to his college experience. At Marburg, with over 19,000 students, classes often have 400 students or more. For this reason, Hütteroth enjoys the one-on-one relationships students and staff have at ULV.
Hütteroth is ambitious, and has been successful in meeting his education goals. He will go to Germany after the end of this semester, and in January he will intern with Price Waterhouse Coopers, a major international accounting and consulting firm, in Frankfurt.
Although the four come from diverse cultures and areas of the world, all have one thing in common: all are business majors. According to ULV’s International Student Services Web site, the majority of students who come to La Verne to study abroad are business majors.
The exchange students at ULV this year also agreed that learning English was a priority for them during their study abroad experience.
“I decided to go abroad and I picked an English speaking country,” Duroux, the French exchange student, said. “For me it is really important to speak English well.”
And while ULV accepts international students and encourages them to attend the university, it also allows and arranges for its own students to go abroad to experience cultures outside of California and the United States.
Brethren Colleges Abroad (BCA) is a program ULV has affiliated itself with in order to interact with colleges and universities worldwide. Agreements between ULV and other schools involved in BCA facilitate the exchange of students for study abroad opportunities. This allows international students come to the University of La Verne to study for one or two semesters, and in exchange ULV students can apply to study in other countries as well. Therefore, because the four exchange students are now experiencing their study abroad semesters at La Verne, American students may get an opportunity to do the same—only they will have a chance to learn about the culture and life in one of the four countries the exchange students represent.
“I got here because of an agreement BCA has with my university,” said Bravo. “They gave me a scholarship.”
Bravo hopes at least one of the people she has met here, those fellow students whom she now calls friends, will feel as lucky as she does studying here to experience her native Ecuador.