Cycling, Souvenirs, and Soup Dumplings Shapes Dr.’s Personality
By Steve Vitale
A frequent world traveler, having visited over fifty countries in his lifetime, Dr. Stephen Ferst is the executive director of CSI’s International Services Program.
His responsibilities include assisting the college’s global opportunities, overseeing the college’s 20 study abroad programs, and assisting students and faculty concerned about studying abroad.
“Every place has its charm,” he said. “Everything is a new discovery. Each reveals some issues in a different way.”
Ferst has worked at CSI since August 2013, but has been involved in international studies for over 20 years.
He became interested in studying abroad when he was an undergraduate at Rutgers University.
Dean Gopin convinced him to get involved with international studies, and he has never looked back.
His first trip was to Jerusalem, where he earned a full semesters’ worth of credits.
Over the years, Ferst collected many stories about his travels. One of this favorite involves a trip to India. He bought a bunch of bananas from a vendor in a train station. When his foreign friends learned of this, they were upset.
It turned out that the vendor ripped him off, charging him an extra few cents. They contacted the conductor, who demanded the vendor give Ferst a refund. He saw firsthand how hospitable and caring foreigners could be to tourists.
“I think in our field, you meet a lot of people who travel extensively,” said Renee Cassidy, a study abroad advisor at CSI.
“I enjoy hearing about his stories because I learn about relationships between institutions abroad, programs, and students he’s accompanied abroad.”
Ferst has visited Shanghai, Sydney, and Mérida. While abroad, he enjoys walking around and eating.
While he only speaks English, he can understand most foreign menus when he visits restaurants.
A favorite place of his is a small dumpling shop located on the far corner of Shanghai, where soup dumplings are served. He also enjoys Pasta Cabrera, as long as it’s done right.
Souvenirs Ferst often brings back include old pictures, toys, and tea.
Cycling is also another activity Ferst loves. He owns several bikes, including two Trek racing bikes, a Colnago, a cross bike, and a single speed bike. He participates in both local and international races.
“I’m fairly convinced that humans were not built to go sixty miles per hour,” he expressed.
“While it’s faster than walking, cycling allows for your brain to process all the sights that you see while cycling.”
Alpe d’Huez, a 13 kilometer route in the French Apls, is a place Ferst someday hopes to travel.
The route consists of 21 slopes and is often referred to as a “cycling mecca.” He hopes to ride though there before watching professional riders participate in the Tour de France.
Ferst appreciates the perspective his experiences have given him, explaining that it offers him a different sense of self.
“It’s kind of defined my life. It’s kind of who I am. It’s given me the ability to reset my grip on American culture, and feel more comfortable accepting different viewpoints.”