Choosing an Off-Campus Program
As the sophomore class begins to make decisions about off-campus study, I can’t help myself from weighing in with my thoughts. After two months in St. Petersburg, I have learned a good bit about the abroad experience. Some advice:
1. Find out how going abroad will work with your major.
Obviously the most important factor in anyone’s study-abroad travels is that they are getting credit for their work. It does seem harder for some majors, but through my experience Kenyon professors are great about working with you. As a double major in history and modern languages and literatures, I was quite worried about going abroad in terms of my requirements, since my off-campus program is a language program. The history department really did work with me to ensure that I could get some credit for classes outside of the traditional field of history. Professors and departments work with you so that you can in fact go abroad.
2. Think about where in the world you want to go.
Kenyon currently boasts around 240 study abroad programs all over the world through different colleges and organizations. If you study a language and are passionate about it, then you should go to a country where that language is spoken. In my experience, my two years of Russian before St. Petersburg were an incredible footing, but the past two months here have been incredible for my linguistic skills. It is one thing to be reciting verb conjugations in class, but being out on the street is a totally new environment to practice your language in a much more intensive way than in a classroom. Also take into account factors of travel. For instance, if you wish to travel in many different countries, maybe a program in Australia is not for you, or if you want a program where you will not have to take language classes, as Kenyon often requires that you study the language of the country you are in, maybe look at the many programs in the United Kingdom.
3. Use the CGE.
The Center for Global Engagement is an incredible resource for Kenyon students considering going abroad. They can not only help you pick a program, but also aid you with the application process and making sure you fill everything out before you leave.
4. DON'T BE AFRAID.
Changing everything is pretty darn scary. I was so nervous before I left for Russia. Making new friends, a new schedule and a new place is all so intimidating, but that is one of the beauties of study abroad. You are thrown into a completely new environment, but being in that environment will challenge you and help you grow. It does sound a little campish, but I have learned so much about myself in these past two months. And yes, I miss my parents — Skyping with my mom while she was out to dinner with all my friends over Parents Advisory Council meetings was a bit sad — and yes, I miss my friends so much, but that will all be there when you get back. Abroad is a time to experience something new, and the Hill will still be waiting for you when you get back!
5. Have the best time.
Really try to adapt to the culture, the new friends, the program, everything. If you only study abroad for a semester like myself, it really flies by.