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The NSE Experience: Stepping Outside the Fort Wayne Bubble


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Written by: Communicator StaffJanuary 22, 2014

The National Student Exchange is there for any students who think they can’t have an adventure until they’ve finished their degree. Adopted into IPFW in the 1970’s, the program encompasses the US, Canada, Guam, and Puerto Rico, and offers students the opportunity to experience a different college for one or two semesters while paying their home school’s tuition costs.

Monica Kaufman, a sophomore, participated in the program for the fall 2013 semester.

“I had a rough year at IPFW and I wanted a change,” Kaufman said. “It’s not like me to leave and be far away from family.”

Kaufman attended East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.

“ESU was my third choice,” Kaufman noted.

Alison Rynearson, the National Student Exchange Program coordinator for IPFW, says students can apply to up to six of the more than 200 schools that participate in the program each year.

“My first two locations were in a warmer climate, but they filled fast. I was only an hour and a half away from NYC at ESU.” Kaufman says.

While Kaufman was away, she noticed there were a lot of differences from IPFW.

Kaufman, who lived in a traditional dorm while she attended the University, said, “I had a roommate that would party, watch TV, and sleep all the time. I was looking forward to living in a dorm since IPFW does not offer them. My roommate ruined that experience for me.”

While that can be a problem anywhere, Rynearson notes there can be other downsides specific to the program.

While the coordinators do their best to get students the courses they need, they can’t guarantee any specific courses, and according to Rynearson, “the program does not lend well to all majors, specifically health sciences and elementary education.”

Rynearson’s list of benefits is a lot longer than the negatives, however. Students, who may not have gone far from home in attending IPFW, learn to be more independent and resourceful, learn new life skills and have a chance to gain new perspectives by being in different parts of the country.

While students’ reasons for picking a certain school can be very different, some pick a school to challenge their comfort zone or find classes not offered at their home universities according to Rynearson.

Kaufman’s favorite part was all of the trips to New York City.

“I’m generally a shy person; this experience has made me open up more. I’ve made friendships with people all over the world that will last a lifetime,” she said.

While some schools can only accept a certain number of students, IPFW accepts all that apply to the program.

“We have eight students coming to IPFW this year,” Rynearson said. “We have had students from Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Alaska. We tend to get a lot of exchange students from Puerto Rico.”

Why might a student choose IPFW?

Rynearson said, “Students exchange to IPFW for lots of different reasons, including the quality of the programs, our division one sports, affiliation with Indiana and Purdue, and because we are a nice campus with lots of helpful and supportive faculty and staff.”

If she could, Kaufman believes this program is definitely worth doing again.

“It was such a wonderful experience that many people will pass up,” Kaufman said.

For more information about the program, attend one of the information sessions or contact Rynearson in the MAC office.

Story by: Rachel Given