Confusion Corner: Students travel abroad to find natural habitat
April 14, 2011
I believe it was Leonardo da Vinci who first said, “Where a young mind chooses to venture speaks volumes about the young heart.” Sounds pretty good, huh? Da Vinci didn’t say that. I made it up, but I’m flattered you thought one of the greatest minds of all time could have come up with it. Needless deception aside, I do believe that studying abroad is one of the most enriching and expanding opportunities a student here at the College can undertake. I also believe that where you choose to spend your study abroad experience reveals a lot about your latent desires, sublimated urges and other Freudian nonsense.
For example, I myself will be spending next semester studying philosophy and literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. This strongly suggests that I might be a douchebag, only doing so to impress girls. I will neither confirm nor deny this suggestion. You also could probably glean that I smoke American Spirit cigarettes and lean against walls, brooding. I may have some sort of cryptic nihilist tattoo on my lower back that reads “Daddy” and think you’re a conformist for driving a Prius. Essentially, you would assume I was a hipster. And if you did, I would slap you.
A friend of mine will be studying environmental science and public policy in Kenya. A large portion of what he owns is probably hemp. He likely sympathizes with the plight of the dung beetle and decries the abusive treatment given the noble doorstop.
My roommate intends to study business in Brazil. Let’s take a look at what you (fairly or unfairly) would assume about him based on this. First, he is probably a coke dealer. Secondly, he might have a tattoo on his bicep that reads “Rattlesnake.” You could assume he has a sense of danger and an entrepreneurial spirit, much like John Dillinger or Al Capone. He may come in late at night with no explanation of where he’s been, smelling of regret and transgression. Or, he could just be a total bro who wants to go to Carnivale and is totally duping the school. Hint, hint.
Less traditional destinations can say a lot, too. Antarctic research, for example, means you’re probably single and long for the loving touch of a sympathetic penguin. We’ve all been there, it’s probably fine. Equestrian studies in Greenland suggest you’re a card-carrying vegan with a horse named Peace Flower and an aversion to baths.
I’ve also seen posters around campus suggesting that a summer session in Hawaii or Los Angeles ought to be considered studying abroad as well. Now I’m not asserting that you wouldn’t learn valuable life skills in Hawaii (coconut wrangling) or Los Angeles (getting shot), but surely you could find somewhere more exotic. Heck, we have an exchange program with McGill University in Montreal. At least in Canada you have to exchange your money before you can do any number of basically American things. Okay, and you have Tim Hortons instead of Burger King — you’re not fooling anyone, Canada.
So for all of you out there considering studying abroad, you have my ringing endorsement. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet the Parisian girl of your dreams, make a killing in Brazilian oil or save an entire African village. Or maybe you’ll contract an exotic French strain of herpes, get kidnapped, thrown off the Cristo Redentor statue and become the leader of a military junta. So whether you’re going to China on a State Department (spy) Scholarship or flying to Amsterdam to … like … something, branch out, my friends. Venture forth, turn your face to the sun, and spread your wings! Step outside your comfort zone and try new things. Because remember, if you ever get homesick, the nearest McDonalds is never more than a block away.
__Jason Rogers is a Confusion Corner columnist and stronly belives that when he returns from France, the ladies will flock to him. Contact Jason Rogers at [email protected]__