I hope you had a great Spring Break, free from all the personal responsibilities inherent to adult life. Now please allow me a few minutes of your time to completely dissect and destroy the points you made in your ridiculous article titled “The Bureaucratic Nightmare of Studying Abroad.” Since you clearly enjoy running your mouth about how much of a hassle it is for you to figure things out for yourself, I’m going to lay my article’s thesis out for you plain and simple: The Education Abroad Program (EAP) at UCSB — including the dedicated people that work there — is awesome. Your sense of entitlement is the nightmare.
YOUR TITLE: “The Bureaucratic Nightmare of Studying Abroad”
The world’s greatest detective has spoken! Thanks for implying that it is “bureaucratic” to contact a consulate, secure a student visa, attain criminal record forms and apply to a university located on a separate continent (all of which are necessary to study abroad). Now, if you had just done what your title suggested and wrote about the hassles inherent in gearing up for an exchange program, you might have had a decent opinion to share and I would not be writing this rebuttal article. However, since you decided to attack the very people responsible for making the exchange process less bureaucratic (the hard-working staff of the Education Abroad Program), you’re going to take heat for it. Let’s begin!
QUOTE: “Clad in their token EAP shirts and reciting the words “Affordable! Easy! Credits for your major!” with robotic frequency, our peer advisors fail to mention that “Education Abroad Program” is merely a euphemism for “Take out loans and graduate two years late.”
Look, your article was worded quite tactfully and I commend your writing skills. Unfortunately, I don’t support your unfounded attack on fellow Gauchos who are enthusiastic about their own exchange experiences and have come back to EAP to help their peers get the same opportunities. I know for a fact that EAP goes through a very selective admissions process and only hires people who truly want to spend their time making the exchange process easier for their peers. As talented and energetic as they are, can these peer advisors write your academic major’s curriculum? No. Can these peer advisors force you to plan better so that you don’t have to graduate two years late? No. Can these peer advisors tell you which classes you want to take and tell you exactly where you will study abroad? No. They are there to advise and encourage, but they cannot do your own work for you. Now that we’ve established what EAP peer advisors are actually paid to do, let’s continue.
QUOTE: “I’ve been in the EAP office a total of four times. I’ve left the EAP office with useful information I couldn’t have googled myself a total of zero times. I’ve begrudgingly walked out of the EAP office with a stack of vague fliers…”
Oh no, you had to go the EAP office four whole times? When most people plan to go study abroad, they visit that office many times. When I was gearing up to study in South Africa, I practically lived in that office. Can you guess why? Because studying abroad is not in the same league as the usual on-campus errands like picking up textbooks or attending your professor’s office hours. You’re trying to enroll in a foreign university, one that might not even use English as a primary language — there’s obviously a lot more preparation required of you! I should also mention that South Hall is about as conveniently located as it gets in comparison to most buildings on campus; therefore your implication that it is inconvenient to get yourself to the EAP office is quite astounding. Or was it the fact that you had to walk up a whole set of stairs to get to the second floor of South Hall? I mean, we all know how slow that elevator can be, but yikes!
Furthermore, EAP advisors give you the resources to go abroad and help facilitate the process monumentally, but they cannot do your work for you. So when you walk into that building with no clue about where you want to go, what you want to do and whether you can even study abroad with your major requirements, it’s pretty obvious that the peer advisors are going to suggest you check out informative fliers or links to useful websites so that you can narrow your search and move forward with the “real” EAP process that happens after you choose your desired program. In the adult world, we can call these things “resources.” I suggest you use them.
QUOTE: “When our school has dedicated (probably bloated) salaries and funding to an entire department, one would expect answers to the simplest questions, such as “Are there scholarships available?” wouldn’t have to be redirected to an entirely different department (you try getting Stephanie from Financial Aid on the phone for more than two seconds — it ain’t easy).”
OK then … I am just going to assume you haven’t actually researched how much money the EAP staff make. Hint: Their salaries aren’t “bloated” and they are actually a lot lower than you might think. Considering how hard they work — especially in the wee hours of the night when exchange students send them emails from different time zones — one could make a logical case that they deserve more. And if you’re criticizing how much the EAP peer advisors make (these are your fellow students, by the way), then maybe you should try experiencing what paying for college/rent is like with an on-campus job? Let’s just say it’s not “smooth sailing.”
You’re also oblivious to the fact that the majority of the people you see tabling at the Arbor or helping direct traffic in the EAP office, “clad in their token EAP shirts,” are unpaid interns. These people are part of the “global intern program,” which is basically just a means by which EAP alumni can donate some time out of their busy schedules to help other students with basic study abroad questions. These interns don’t receive the formal training that the official EAP peer advisors do and therefore their domain of knowledge is obviously limited to the country or continent they specifically studied in; they are simply there to get other students excited about studying abroad, to direct the insane traffic that goes down in the EAP office and to share their own firsthand experiences with other students. I did this program myself simply because I wanted to encourage more students to study abroad in Africa like I did and to get them excited about the incredible opportunities offered by “nontraditional” exchange programs. And yes, it was an awesome experience and it’s been my pleasure to connect many Gauchos to the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Please take this to heart: EAP interns work for free and reap no rewards besides the satisfaction of helping fellow students out. The professional peer advisors and full-time EAP staff, on the other hand, are there to help you out with the “real issues” once you have actually figured out where you want to go. Big difference.
Furthermore, you’ve demonstrated that I must explain another “big difference” to you — like the obvious contrast between “scholarships” and “financial aid.” Stephanie from UCSB Financial Aid — bless her heart, that lady is a saint — specializes in transferring financial aid for exchange students. And guess what? If it wasn’t for EAP, you would not be getting financial aid to study abroad. EAP streamlines that whole pain-in-the-ass process for you! Next, your whole criticism about EAP not offering scholarships to hopeful exchange students is complete trash. There are multiple scholarship opportunities to study abroad through EAP and the peer advisors even advertise the thousands of scholarship opportunities outside of EAP (because they genuinely want everyone to be able to do an exchange program, regardless of family income). Every single EAP presentation at UCSB has a PowerPoint slide specifically about “how to afford studying abroad” — thus your claim that EAP is somehow withholding information from you about scholarship opportunities is completely unfounded. Buying airplane tickets and travelling are obviously expensive endeavors, but when it comes to affording a foreign university, EAP gives you the resources to lower that cost tremendously. In addition to all the financial opportunities that EAP gives you, it’s an established fact that most EAP programs are cheaper than paying for UC Santa Barbara. So yeah … check and mate, you’re just wrong.
QUOTE: “When my tuition fees are going towards the funding of this large office in South Hall, I expect one advisor to be available when I walk in, and I expect one informed person to be able to give me information regarding credits and my major so that I don’t have to go to the Economics department with a list of questions they are not equipped to answer.”
Alrighty then. Are you aware of how many majors and minors there are at UCSB? Answer: UCSB offers more than 200 majors, degrees and credentials. I find it hilarious that you expect EAP staff to know the academic requirements specific to every single major/minor, yet still imply that the salaries of EAP staff are “bloated.” If you’re ready to financially provide for the insane amount of training that it would take EAP staff to know everything, then be my guest. I figure that an economics major such as yourself might understand that in a capitalist society, people are employed based on their specialty and the extent to which consumers are willing to reap the benefits of that specialty. It’s really not that complicated — EAP staff specialize in EAP stuff, and your department advisors specialize in their department’s stuff. So if an economics/global studies double major like yourself would like to study abroad, you obviously should be consulting the experts of both majors (your department advisors) to see whether it is feasible for you to study abroad.
Now, if you were a biology major and had a department head who was fundamentally opposed to students studying abroad, I might take your concerns more seriously. But considering how strongly the Global Studies department encourages students to study abroad, and also considering how many excellent economics programs are available through EAP (ever heard of the London School of Economics?), I really don’t believe that you’ve experienced any substantial barriers to studying abroad besides your own lack of academic planning.
QUOTE: “I expect something, anything more than a peer advisor leading me to a computer to direct me to a page of information that is almost stupidly obvious to the average person.”
This might be the best argument you have, but it still lacks merit when you realize why you’re being “led to page of information” in the first place. I understand that it sucks when advisors from any department hide behind a computer to enlighten you on stuff they should already know; however, this is not what the EAP advisors are really doing. The reason you are being directed to more “resources” is because the hardest part about the pre-EAP process is deciding exactly where you will be going. I think that the majority of EAP alumni can agree with me on that statement. Unless you have already done the research on the exchange program you would like to pursue, the EAP peer advisors are going direct you to the general EAP website and teach you how to navigate it so you can learn more about your program. Furthermore, it’s not all behind a computer screen; you can arrange appointments with the full-time EAP staff members to get face-to-face advice about the specific exchange programs you’re deciding between. I realize that it takes a touch of effort to log into your Gmail account and shoot an email, but hey, that’s life, right? It’s really not that much of a “bureaucratic nightmare.”
Try filing a tax return yourself or asking someone in the military about what real “bureaucracy” is; trust me, EAP is the opposite of that. If the EAP website is “stupidly obvious to the average person,” then it’s pretty stupid for you to include such a fantastic compliment of EAP in your article that was supposed to criticize EAP. Anyone with experience in marketing, professional writing or advertisement knows that it is best to keep things simple and clear; thus, I don’t think that EAP is going to apologize anytime soon for doing such a great job with their website!
QUOTE: “Have someone who can tell students specific information about their major. Have a representative from Financial Aid on staff, in office and ready to dole out realistic information.”
Lazy, lazy, lazy. Hop on that bike or skateboard of yours and make the quick mission to your department head! Too much work for you? Another suggestion: Please write a petition to Cheadle Hall about why you deserve to have over 200 specialists from the 200+ academic majors/minors at UCSB fit into that tiny EAP office in South Hall. I’m sure the Chancellor Yang would personally make this a top priority over all the other “not so important” things that go down at a university, like winning Nobel prizes in groundbreaking research or making sure that more deserving high schoolers than yourself can afford to pursue their higher education at UCSB. And if you want your financial aid to transfer to whichever university you study abroad at, I would like to inform you that EAP is your best bet for streamlining this process. Unfortunately, I don’t think publicly criticizing them will improve your financial prospects for studying abroad anytime soon.
QUOTE: “If you’re going to offer candy at the reception desk as an attempt to distract students from the utter lack of usefulness of your office, at least make sure it’s not expired — my stomach hurts.”
I’m so sorry your tummy hurts. Thanks so much for finishing my rebuttal article for me! Your article’s conclusion is the perfect icing on your cake of entitlement. If this quote doesn’t epitomize the biggest criticism that older folks have of us millennials, then I don’t know what does. Have a nice life and enjoy experiencing the number one regret that most college students have by the time they graduate — that they never studied abroad.
To everyone else reading this article: I strongly encourage you to check out the EAP office and explore the possibilities of doing an international exchange program. It truly is a great experience and the EAP staff will gladly help you out with utmost professionalism.