Hobart and William Smith Colleges - Exchange Students Thrive at HWS
The HWS Update
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Exchange Students Thrive at HWS

Hailing from Germany, India, China, Luxembourg, Netherlands and the UK, 14 international exchange students who attended HWS this fall say they benefited from a challenging curriculum as well as the connections they made with faculty, staff and students. All of them enjoyed the small class size and welcoming nature of the HWS community.

After taking “Criminology” with Associate Professor of Sociology Jim Sutton, Luxembourger Stefan Köbke says he’s now exploring the field of criminology for graduate school. The readings and assignments “really struck a chord with me” says Köbke, who is majoring in psychology at the University of Tübingen in Germany. “It was a high-paced, high-workload environment, but it felt very engaging and open to me.”

Köbke was also pleasantly surprised by the welcoming community and regularly attended events such as Shabbat dinner every Friday at the Abbe Center for Jewish Life.

Till Sureck, from University of Leipzig, took classes in American literature, history, international politics, and media and society. Sureck believes that the smaller size of HWS—roughly 2,300 compared to his home university’s enrollment of 20,000—made it easier to get to know faculty. “The classroom felt much more tight-knit and closer than what I am used to from Germany,” he says. “All of the professors were willing to do more to connect us to their fields of expertise outside of the classroom, be it organizing and/or advertising for talks and round tables with experts visiting from other universities or just simply always having an open ear during their office hours.”

Sureck, whose family grew up in the former-German Democratic Republich (Socialist East Germany), says he was commonly called on in class to share his view. “All of my professors were interested in my “outsider” perspective and Germany’s positions on issues of international relations.”

Taking three computer science classes and an economics class at HWS, Famke Nouwens of Maastricht University, Netherlands, also appreciated the welcoming community and rigor of the classroom. “What I liked best about HWS was the community feeling this school gave me. I also really loved the classes that required a challenging amount of work,” says the data science and knowledge engineering major.

This international cohort is one of many that have been attending Hobart and William Smith for decades. Program Operations Manager Amy Teel says, the program has “a very rich reciprocal relationship.”

“HWS values the contribution of our international exchange students because they bring a unique perspective to class, clubs and all the activities they join. They also provide HWS students, who are thinking about going abroad, an idea of their home countries and cultures even before they get on the plane. And when our students eventually do go abroad they already have a friend.”

Equally impressive is the stature of the institutions in the exchange program, says Teel. “The colleges and universities in the exchange program are among the most prestigious and highly competitive universities in each country. And the exchange students are selected from the top of their classes. So these students tend to be the best of the best.”

Admission to exchange programs is competitive and limited to students from partner institutions. The program is structured so students receive full credit for their exchange semester. International students from partner institutions can apply for the HWS Exchange program.  For more information, contact Amy Teel at the HWS Center for Global Education at teel@hws.edu

The photo above features international students and staff meeting at the end of the fall semester. 

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