CAMPUS LIFE EDITOR
Almost every student has heard wonderful stories about studying abroad. Maybe your mom told you a story about having a picnic underneath the Eiffel Tower on a crisp, autumn day. Maybe your friend described their life-changing experience of learning enlightenment at a Buddhist monastery in Nepal. You could picture every detail of their stories, but they seemed like exactly that — stories — impractical and unattainable for you. However, Whittier College tries to make studying abroad possible for the average student.
This past Monday, Sept. 23, The Office of International Programs held a Study Abroad Fair to educate and excite students about all the possibilities when it comes to studying abroad. There were several booths covered in colorful fliers filling the Campus Courtyard with faculty and other experts waiting to reach out to students. Some booths were there to inform inquiring students about a specific trip they could go on. Others were there to explain logistics and the financial aspect of those trips. One booth was even about getting a passport.
One concern most students have about studying abroad is money. Studying in a different country for an extended amount of time seems, at the least, fiscally reckless, and, at most, financially impossible, but the OIP is more than willing to help. Whittier College students who entered college in 2016 or later get a $2,000 Global Poets Scholarship that is solely for studying abroad. This scholarship becomes available Jan Term of your second year and can be used for Jan Term or any trip after. That money can help ease the burden of paying for these trips and enable students who would not otherwise be able to go on these trips. There are also sometimes additional scholarships, depending on which trip you choose and which company you travel with.
In addition, WC is flexible when it comes to payment plans so that you can pay as you are able to instead of making one large purchase that may be unrealistic. For most, if not all, of the trips, you are responsible for getting your own plane ticket to help with costs. Because of this, you are able to use any miles you might have saved up in the past and simply choose the most cost-effective ticket you can find.
Students planning on studying abroad for a full semester in the Fall of 2020 have many opportunities to choose from, including Rome, Vietnam, Australia, and more. Going to a different country for a full semester can be a scary decision. Planning your schedule, fear of missing friends, and possibly not understanding the language are just a few of the valid reasons to be worried about studying abroad, but it can also be an extremely rewarding decision. Immersing yourself in another culture far away from friends and family can be a great way to grow.
Studying abroad in Spain during the Fall of 2018 really helped fourth-year Dalton Simmons expand his horizons. “If you don’t travel and experience other cultures, you live in a bubble. Getting outside of your comfort zone . . . is a way for growth to come into your life,” said Simmons about his trip. Going to a different country may seem isolating and scary, but being alone and leaving your safety net can be a good thing. “[Studying abroad] forces you to grow and prepare yourself for what’s to come in life,” said Simmons. “I went to a different country and continent with no one that I knew. It forced me to make friends and experience a completely different aspect of myself that I wish I experienced sooner.” Studying abroad helps expand your worldview while having a great time meeting new people and experiencing a new culture.
What if you still want to go abroad, but leaving for an entire semester does not work for you? Worry not, there are two versions of shorter study abroad programs offered by the OIP during their Jan Term and May Term trips. Many, but not all, of these courses have a required course that you have to take the semester before to prepare for the trip. However, this counts towards the Connections 1 paired course requirement.
Jan Term trips take the place of your regular Jan Term class. They are, on average, about 20 days spent on the trip and can be a better option if you want something cheaper, are worried about being homesick, or have other priorities during the semester. Third-year Abby Salmon attended the Greece and Rome trip in January 2019 that was led by Dr. Wendy Furman-Adams and Dr. David Hunt. They are same professors leading the semester-long trip to Rome in the Fall of 2020.
“As a student-athlete, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to have a study abroad experience because even in the offseason we still have a number of practices, lifts, and other obligations we have to commit and attend to,” said Salmon on why she chose to go abroad for a Jan Term trip. Going to Greece and Italy for a month instead of a full semester allowed her to experience new cultures without missing out on other obligations she has during the school year.
The same cultural impact is available in a more condensed time frame. Third-year Sarah Morgan is excited to go to Thailand this January. “I picked Thailand because the course is exploring local environmental solutions to climate change and assisting with local community projects,” she said. This hands-on Jan Term class will show that shorter trips do not sacrifice the cultural impact study abroad programs have on students.
May Term trips are similar to Jan Term trips in helping students that want one of the shorter trips, but are taking required courses in January. They can be thought of as an educational, but fun summer vacation. Third-year Sumitra Bernardo has been on two different May Term trips: Hawaii in the Spring of 2018 and Italy in the Spring of 2019. “I had internships lined up for the upcoming school year and leadership positions within my organizations,” Bernardo said, so even Jan Term could not work for her.
Another benefit to May Terms is that it is easier to extend your trip than it is with Jan Terms. Most Jan Term trips end a few days before Spring semester begins, so there is not much time if you would like to keep traveling after the course is over. May Terms are technically part of summer, so, after the course, there are not any other school requirements.
Studying abroad can be an extremely fulfilling experience. You get immersed within a new culture in a way that is unique to normal traveling. If it seems unrealistic for you, there are many options through Whittier College and the OIP. So make sure to explore your options, and do not pass up an amazing opportunity.
For more information about studying abroad email the Office of International Programs at email@example.com or visit their office in Platner 206.