More students traveling off the beaten path for abroad experience

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February 28, 2007

1:45 AM

Europe remains the top choice for studentsof the College who chose to study abroad this semester, but other, less traditional destinations are becoming more popular every year.

p. According to Global Education Programs Assistant Sally Lavender, the top choice for students studying abroad this semester was England, with 43 students, followed by Spain,
with 42. Thirty-eight students chose Italy, 34 chose France and 26 students decided to study abroad in Australia.

p. “Europe is really popular,” Lavender said.

p. “A lot of times it’s the location. Some students want to focus on immersion in a language, and that makes it more popular.”

p. Jimmy Gertzog, a junior at the College, attributed his major the largest influence on his study abroad location, England’s University of Nottingham.

p. “I am an English major, so going to England made the most sense. I would’ve loved anywhere I ended up as long as it contributed to my major,” he said.

p. Casey Metheny, a sophomore, studied in Bath, England over the fall semester for many of the same reasons. An English major, Metheny told The Flat Hat that she wanted to study British literature from the English point of view.

p. Both Metheny and Gertzog noted that, while England is often seen as too close to home to warrant a study abroad, their experiences were very eye-opening.

p. “Contrary to popular misconceptions, England is a very different country from the United States,” Metheny said. “The lack of a language barrier, however, and the presence of an extremely supportive staff and a group of other American students struggling with the same adjustment made it fairly simple to settle in to life in Bath,” she added.

p. Gertzog traveled through a College program, while Metheny traveled through American Studies in England, or ASE. Both said that the staff was extremely helpful and made life easy in England.

p. Peggy Newman, a junior who studied in Italy last semester, had a more difficult time with her program — which was independent from the College — but still enjoyed herself in Rome.

p. “I wanted to study in Italy for the art, the history and the language,” she said. “Since I had never been to Western Europe, a central location was important for weekend traveling, and it was easy to get most places from Rome. Plus you can’t beat Italian food and wine.”

p. Newman also said that the College’s credit- transfer policy was frustrating.

p. “It was pretty annoying to have to deal with credit transfers and tuition exchanges,” she said. “I took a lot of interesting classes that have almost no bearing on my … degree, which was frustrating because many of my friends received more credit from their home institutions.”

Despite the frustration, Newman said that her experience was worthwhile. “I’m glad that I studied abroad for an entire semester in Italy, which is something [that the College] does not offer. It was a great opportunity to make a more diverse group of
friends, too,” she said.

p. Outside of Europe, one of the most popular study abroad destinations is China, where 21 College students chose to travel this semester.

p. Junior Maera Busa studied in Beijing last semester, while her friend, junior Matt Hanson, studied there over the summer. Both agreed that it was an amazing experience.

p. “Chinese is one of the harder languages to learn, so going there is a great way to do it. [Beijing] is such an easy city to move around in,” Busa said.

p. Hanson agreed with Busa’s assessment of the benefits of immersion in the Chinese language. “I’d say my language ability increased more than I could imagine in those two months,” he said.

p. While both students experienced culture shock, they said that learning the customs of China was a great experience.

p. “They have different ways of dealing with things and they have these pre-conceived ideas about Americans,” Busa said. “It’s about two or three weeks before you realize how to interact with them – how to get past the little cultural differences,” said Busa.

p. “They’re learning too—they want to understand American culture too,” she added.

p. According to Lavender, such cultural experiences are a major benefit of study abroad programs. “We do encourage students to think globally,” she said.

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