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Students search for abroad beyond OIS

Molly Madden | Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Many Notre Dame students recently received acceptance letters into study abroad programs and have made plans to leave campus next academic year. However, several students are currently exploring alternative study abroad options.

“When students who didn’t get accepted into a semester-long program come to talk to us about their options, one of the first things we recommend is studying abroad in the summer through the University,” Assistant Director of the Office of International Studies (OIS) Liz LaFortune said.

Summer programs offered through OIS involve six weeks of study and require students to earn six to eight credits during their time abroad. While locations for summer study include some overlapping cities with the semester-long programs.

LaFortune said summer study also has certain advantages for students that are not offered the semester-long OIS programs.

“Summer study programs offer unique opportunities and unique locations,” she said. “Students can study in South Africa and attend English-language programs in Paris and Rome.”

LaFortune said the applicant pool to the summer programs is varied, but a lot of people who were not accepted or were wait-listed in the academic year programs apply for summer.

“We make the summer program deadline two weeks after the academic year decision letters are sent out for that purpose, so students who weren’t accepted have another option,” LaFortune said.

Sophomore Dave Skorup said he decided to apply to the Summer London 2010 program after he found out he had been wait-listed for next spring.

“I knew I wanted to go abroad at some point and so when I got wait-listed I thought that the summer session could be fun,” he said.

Skorup said after he looked further into the summer program, he realized that it would be to his personal advantage to go abroad in the summer.

“There are classes I can take in the summer program that make it easier to qualify for an International Business certificate,” he said. “I really wanted to go abroad in the spring, but also didn’t really want to be away from campus for an entire semester so this worked out.”

LaFortune said many students research other study abroad options outside of those offered by OIS.

“If an OIS program doesn’t fit a student’s interests or academics we often encourage them to look at other ways of going abroad,” she said. “We often connect them with the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement and we suggest talking to their deans about studying abroad through their major or college.”

Sophomore Allie Hamman, an engineering major, was accepted into the Dublin program for Fall 2010, but had to turn it down due to conflicts with her classes and credits.

She has elected to study in Alcoy, Spain, this summer through the College of Engineering, which also offers a summer program in London for around 40 Engineering students.

“It’s really hard for engineering majors to go abroad for an entire semester,” she said. “The College of Engineering programs allow us to take classes abroad that will count for engineering elective credit.”

Hamman said she would prefer to go abroad for an entire semester through OIS, but that the summer program through her college works better with her schedule.

“It’s not a bad option by any means and I don’t have to worry about being overloaded my senior year,” she said.

Students looking for an alternative study abroad experience can also apply for international internships and fellowships in the developing world through the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.

“Students that participate in these programs are often interested in going to countries that aren’t offered through OIS,” Assistant Director of the Kellogg Institute Holly Rivers said.
The Kellogg Institute funds students’ efforts in programs such as Experiencing the World Fellowships, which give students more independence in places like Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“In the Kellogg programs students are often traveling with only two or three other students so they are forced to integrate into the country and culture,” Rivers said.

No matter how it is accomplished, LaFortune said she hopes that students find some means of studying abroad.

“To visit, study or research in a foreign country is a great opportunity that all students should try and take advantage of,” LaFortune said.