Juniors journey abroad

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September 7, 2007

3:38 AM

Summer is officially dead. It died a few afternoons ago with the first serious class discussion, the first visit to Swem, the first completed written assignment. Already the air is colder and the leaves have turned color. Already my right eye twitches from sleep deprivation, and with an eclectic scholastic selection as eccentric as mine, I only wonder how fast a schedule so packed as this semester’s will fly.

p. A true junior year should be measured by its workload. There is much heavy “mind” lifting to be done. You buckle down and “get serious” about what it is you want to do with your life. Discussions involving words like “thesis,” “honors” and “bibliography” are held with advisors. Premature preparations are made for potential GREs, LSATs, MCATs and the like. For a year, you push yourself a little over the academic edge, not knowing whether to laugh, gag or shit yourself because of the workload being shoved down your throat.

p. The hope is that, by your final year, you’ve secured some sort of internship or post-graduation plan in which you do little more than bask in a state of drunken idleness — inviting yourself to a year of pass/fails, day-time and night-time television and pottery and self-defense classes. The last thing you want your last year to be is an improvisation — struggling to savor those last golden moments with friends, hastily fulfilling major requirements, pulling strings to perform miracles, straggling behind for a supersemester or two.

p. But wait! There’s a loophole! As much as junior year is a time for work, it has within it much untapped potential for fun.
The fall may be here already, but maybe summer isn’t dead after all. Perhaps summer went abroad. Yes, summer is in China, summer is at Oxford, summer is at the summit of Dubai’s ski slope.

p. More and more, juniors are spending a semester abroad in a domino-effect frenzy. It’s more or less perfect — you basically get the semester off, discovering life in another country, blending culture, coursework and learning with a new people, their foods and their drinks. I have yet to hear a student complain about his or her experiences overseas. I also have yet to hear of any student who had a heavy enough workload about which to complain.

p. Students are now flying off in droves — successive, conformity-fixated flocks. Some switch majors just to join their friends in Beijing, or compromise their futures for a semester in Rome. And I say, “Yes! Why the hell not?” I encourage this reckless abroad-bound abandon for all juniors who can afford a semester of such tremendous ease and comfort. Not only will you thoroughly enjoy the fresh change of scenery, you’ll even appreciate the minimal amount of schoolwork you’ll be given. It will prevent you from having that restless, not-quite boredom feeling you grew so accustomed to this summer.

p. And when you get back, you’ll have that final year, that senior year, to accomplish absolutely nothing. You’ll have made enough connections in Paris or Oxford to render work unnecessary. Looking back on this summer, and at the fall ahead of me, I encourage you to run abroad while you still can.

p. __Sherif Abdelkarim is a junior at the College.__

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