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Southern California and the world

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Noone can deny the educational value of travel, which is why study abroad programs have gotten so popular in colleges and universities around the country. California schools offer myriad study abroad programs that send students headlong into other countries to learn their cultures, languages, business practices and more. Here are five of the top participating foreign universities around the world.

1. Cal State Fullerton's program at Waseda University in Japan

As part of the California State University Study Abroad Program, Cal State Fullerton sends several students to this venerable university in Tokyo each year. Founded in the late 1800s, Waseda is one of Japan's top private coeducational institutions of higher learning.

California State University started sending students to Waseda in 1964. The students who visit this university accompany those from other Cal State schools in groups of about 20 to 25. Kathryn Morrissey, Fullerton's study abroad advisor, said that many of the students who take part in the one-year program study Japanese language and culture and their majors include business or international business, Japanese language, art and communications.

Students in the study abroad program pay their basic California state fees, plus study abroad fees. And, of course, travel expenses are up to the student.

The students are immersed in Japanese culture, taking tours of Tokyo and other cities, but they also get a little taste of home with American-style celebrations for Thanksgiving and other holidays.

2. University of California Education Abroad Program, the University of Cape Town, South Africa

Students at UCLA, UC San Diego, and all other UC campuses can avail themselves of a wide range of study abroad opportunities around the world as part of the official University of California Education Abroad Program.

After this summer's World Cup fever, the program at the University of Cape Town in South Africa is bound to become more popular. The program offers a full curriculum of courses in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural and mathematical sciences, engineering and business administration.

UCT, South Africa's oldest university, is known for biological sciences, botany, zoology, environmental and ecological sciences, and oceanography. The school also offers courses in South African marine ecology and oceanography.

3. University of California's Inter-University Program, Tsinghua University, China

Students from all UC schools, including UC Berkeley and UCLA interested in the Chinese language can immerse themselves in it at the Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies located at Tsinghua University's campus. The program operates the oldest and most rigorous foreign-based Chinese-language training program in China.

Tsinghua University was established in 1911. Since China opened up to the outside world in 1978, the school has developed into a comprehensive research university. It has 14 schools and 56 departments with faculty specializing in science, humanities, law, medicine, history, economics, education, art and more.

4. UC Study Abroad at the Complutense University of Madrid

University of California students can study abroad at the Complutense University of Madrid for a semester or up to a year. The largest university in Spain, the Complutense University of Madrid has medieval origins, but in the late 20th century a dramatic modernization and expansion placed it in the vanguard of education in Spain.

Students in this program begin with a four-week Spanish language program and then can take classes in most academic disciplines. The range of educational degrees offered at the university is one of the most complete in Europe and includes a wide variety of specialty areas. The degrees are grouped into five areas of knowledge: arts and humanities, sciences, health sciences, social and legal sciences, and engineering.

5. Pepperdine University's one-week class at the University of Oxford

The oldest university in the English-speaking world, Oxford is a unique cultural institution ? teaching existed in some form at Oxford as far back as 1096. And students at Pepperdine University have a great way to study there in a one-week class called Global Enterprise Management: Organizations, Environments and Political Economy.

The students who sign up for this program work full-time, so they have limited time for travel, according to Gary L. Mangiofico, PhD, associate dean, academic programs for working professionals at the Graziadio School of Business Management, Pepperdine University. But this program packs a great deal into one week.

The class starts with a pre-departure orientation, and while at Oxford there is quite a bit of class time including guest lecturers ? typically a member of the House of Lords and a representative from the European Union ? as well as site visits to businesses in the U.K.

  - Mary Jane Horton, Brand Publishing Writer

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