SF State welcomes 221 international exchange students (with Interactive Map)

International students pose for portraits at SF State on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (Kyler Knox/Xpress)

International students pose for portraits at SF State on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (Kyler Knox/Xpress)

This Spring 2017, SF State welcomes 221 new international students from around the world who will study here for the next 6-to-12 months. Each student has chosen to attend SF State to experience firsthand what it’s like to study in America. View the interactive map and read the full story below. 

Instructions: Hover over each icon to learn about 7 different students and to hear their first impressions of San Francisco.

While many students prepared to head back to San Francisco after spending winter break at home, 221 students from across the globe left the comforts of their home to begin a new chapter here at SF State.

By this semester, students from 22 different countries now call San Francisco home for the next 6-to-12 months and will experience what it’s like to study in America as part of the University’s exchange program.

One of these students is 22-year-old Stefanie Hillenaar, who travelled from the Netherlands to study international business and language.

“I’ve come to San Francisco for an adventure abroad and I want to meet new people and travel as much as I can,” Hillenaar said.

While here, international students must study the same course load they would at their home university, but are free to try classes that they wouldn’t normally take.

Chelsea Sky Matthews, has chosen to focus on women and gender studies, an area that is not offered at her university in Byron Bay, Australia.

“It’s great to be able to come over here to San Francisco and study the things I am actually passionate about,” Matthews said. “One of the big reasons I chose SF State, is that this school offers women and gender studies, which is something I haven’t had the chance to learn about previously.

Kirstin Greene, director of the Office of International Programs, said the study abroad programs here at SF State are set up to cater to the needs of all students and to promote cultural immersion.

“I think it’s important we have these exchange programs so we can bring international students here,” Greene said. “Having international presence on campus exposes students to new people and ensures that SF State is aware as an institution of its place in the world.”

To help exchange students make the most of their time here at SF State, the student-run International Educational Exchange Council have planned organized events throughout the semester to allow students to meet people from around the world.

The IEEC is the largest student-run organization on campus, made up of international students, domestic students who have studied abroad and students who are planning to study abroad in the future.

Greene said that the IEEC is a great way for people to get out and see the city without having to know someone.

Weekly activities are organized by the committee and then posted as a Facebook event so students can extend invitations to friends. Events range from dinners at the SoMa StrEat Food Park to Yosemite National Park day trips.

“The parties that the exchange student group organize are really awesome so I think I will enjoy my time here,” Hillenaar said.

With more than 200 students coming each semester, Greene believes one of the reasons SF State is so popular amongst internationals is the location of the campus.

“San Francisco itself draws a lot of people because it is such a diverse area, it has a really rich, interesting history, and a reputation for accepting all kinds of people which is what makes it attractive”.