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Questioning value of foreign study

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, October 2, 2003

Can we stop the madness? Please? I’ve been at Notre Dame for six years now and have seen and heard all this before. I get it – you lived in some place different, didn’t study, saw some people of a different culture – London, how exotic, especially with those quaint names they have for everything – hung out with college students from the United States in a new and sexually liberal environment and ate great food.

Let me guess, it’s bittersweet coming back to Notre Dame, but you made memories that will last a lifetime. Did I forget to add the kicker? The whole, “I gained a perspective that there is more out there than just Reckers, dorm parties and football.”

But what else is out there, and why can’t you get it here?

The commodification of the “study abroad experience” only serves to cheapen and streamline a supposedly exotic and eye-opening experience into something you apply for, enlist in, sign up for and then purchase, consume and use later.

Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds us that traveling in this way – gathering up experiences, scenes and various treasures – is not only not fulfilling, but ultimately hollow. I encourage those that want to boost their GPAs to study abroad; I encourage those that want to drink deeply from life’s cup to pray, ponder, read, ask and wonder. If you want gelato, grab some yo-cream and add water. It works everytime.

Will McDonaldgraduate studentSept. 30