When people think about their junior year of college, they think of studying abroad. Studying abroad is a unique opportunity for students to experience other cultures while continuing their education. The College is able to offer a strong off-campus study program, as students can get funding through Davis Connects. The College also has connections to programs and other schools on six different continents.
Lucia Rascionato `25 went abroad to Italy and said it was one of her best college experiences.
“It was great to experience another culture and be fully immersed in language. I loved being on my own for a month. I was able to experience life in a completely different way and grow into a more independent person,” she said.
Along with the special experience of living somewhere new, studying abroad also allows students to prepare for future careers. They can go to programs that are focused on their majors, and some students can get hands-on experience in their fields.
Studying abroad also lets students experience a more independent life. Due to the College’s rural location, most students live on campus. Studying abroad gives students the ability to stay in apartments and lets them experience living alone.
Nancy Downey, director of Off-Campus Study, spoke to The Colby Echo about why she thought it was important for students to study abroad.
“It’s academically important… It gives them a leg up on their career path, but it also teaches them some really important skills. We talk about the three Rs: resilience, resourcefulness, and readiness. Traveling abroad, studying another culture, [and] having to navigate your own way in a different place really helps you with all those skills. What that amounts to is you can eventually commit to mastering your circumstances, no matter what they are,” she said.
Studying abroad is important for students and is beneficial to them in just about every area of their lives, but students this year have been finding the process difficult and unorganized. This has made it hard to follow everything that they are supposed to do and has made the idea of studying abroad much more stressful than it needs to be.
For one thing, the Off-Campus Study website has flaws, which makes it challenging for students to find programs which fit their academic journeys.
Kate Kasoff `25 is a double major and has struggled to find programs that cater to both of her majors.
“It’s really difficult because, when I search programs with my majors, it shows all the colleges that have one major or the other, and it’s harder to find which ones have both,” Kasoff said.
Recently, there was a study abroad fair, which allowed students to talk to representatives from many Colby-approved programs. This was supposed to give students an opportunity to ask questions and see their options.
“The fair, we hope, helps students narrow down their choices. It gets them to start exploring, because that’s what you really need to do at Colby and also when you go abroad. You need to start exploring your options. Liberal arts education teaches you how to think, but it also teaches you how to choose and navigate your options,” Downey said.
However, despite Downey’s hope, the fair was chaotic and more stressful than helpful. It was only from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on a normal Tuesday, so many students had to balance attending the fair with their classes and other obligations. Especially after students were released from 3:45 p.m. classes, there was a flood to Page Commons, causing overcrowding.
Kasoff was overwhelmed when she entered the fair.
“It would have been better in a bigger space during a larger time period. It was hard to talk to any of the representatives because of how crowded it was; I wasn’t able to learn much about any of the programs I was interested in,” she said.
Rascionato had a similar experience.
“It was difficult to learn about all the programs because there were so many people there, …it was really loud… , and there was a lot happening. It was overwhelming, and I thought it was kind of rushed.”
Studying abroad is very important, but students like Kasoff and Rascionato are struggling with the process because of how it has been organized. The website is confusing and not useful to students looking for programs that have multiple majors, and the fair was overcrowded and chaotic, making the idea of studying abroad much more stressful than it has to be.
Rascionato, at least, had one positive take away from the fair.
“It gave me some sort of options without having to scroll through that awful website,” she said.
~ Mairead Levitt `25
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