Staff Spotlight: Ben Strevens

Ben Strevens is the Director of Communications at SAI, and grew up visiting family in both the US and the UK. His frequent travels taught him to grow comfortably in different cultures, and he traces his interest in the field of international education to these early childhood experiences. Now a graduate of University of California Santa Cruz with degrees in both European History and Theater, when Ben is not entertaining the crowd, he can be found in the SAI office encouraging students to study abroad in Italy and England.

Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?

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Ben: I did not, in fact, study abroad! As I mentioned, I spent a lot of time in the UK as a kid, so international travel was a part of my upbringing. In lieu of a formal study abroad experience, however, I took a year off between sophomore and junior year at UCSC and went traveling independently. I did a sort of “Grand Tour of Europe” with my backpack: England, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium and, finally, Scotland. It was an amazing experience and I know for a fact that it helped put my feet on the personal/ professional path that I walk to this day.

What principles does SAI strive to achieve?

Ben: SAI has provided focused learning experiences in Italy since 1995 and in London since 2009. SAI accomplishes its mission by providing high quality academics as well as a comprehensive and personalized approach to services from the first contact with each student. Through extensive pre-departure advising and superior on-site services and programming, SAI aims to enhance cultural understanding for every participant. Each program focuses on the historical, cultural, contemporary and natural factors that make its location unique while offering the structure, services and advising for students to create self-designed programs of study that meet their needs and objectives.

Any new exciting programs for SAI?

Ben: We recently added a brand new partner in Turin, so we’re currently working to promote that program. Turin is an amazing city with world-class art, food and culture; not to mention ski slopes! We anticipate a great deal of student interest!

With SAI, students will develop an awareness of their personal identities and how they relate to their identity within the global society.

A recent report suggested that up to 50% of incoming freshman intended to study abroad during college, but the reality is only 3% actually do. What’s going on here?

Ben: Well, there are many possible causes for this disparity. Study abroad is an exciting prospect for most students, but there are any number of hurdles that must be overcome on the road to making it a reality. The most common among these are financial and academic. Study abroad can be expensive (though there is financial aid available), and certain majors are not really encourage to take courses overseas; including nursing and engineering majors. I should mention that these trends are changing and I believe we’ll see a more demographically and academically diverse cohort of U.S. students studying abroad in the years to come.

How do you think study abroad and international education will change over the next 10 years?

Ben: One need only glance over SAI's detailed goals and objectives to get a better picture of the thorough and top-notch study abroad experience he/she will receive through SAI. With partner schools in Roma, Turin, Florence, Milan, Siena, Sorento, and London, SAI will help students gain a wealth of professional skills, all while cultivating a sense of personal and global responsibility.