Tales from abroad Three students share their stories from last semester—from internships to sailing ships by EMILY LIN-JONES Feature Editor
n the fall semester of 2013, over half of the available off-campus studies programs were being offered to Whitman students for the first time ever. Some of these proved popular, while some attracted only one or two intrepid students to test the waters. In the meantime, Whitman’s older partner programs also continued to attract participants. The Pioneer spoke with two juniors who participated in brandnew partner programs in the fall, as well as a student who participated in one of Whitman’s longtime U.S. partner programs.
STUDY ABROAD BY NUMBERS Austria
Karen Zhou - Copenhagen, Denmark The Pioneer: Where did you go, and what was the program like? Karen Zhou: I was in Copenhagen, Denmark at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad. It’s basically a large program of mostly American students, with about 1200 people total. It consists of a bunch of different programs. I was in a program called Child Diversity and Development, [studying] children in a multicultural context. I studied the sociology of education in a Danish context. I wanted to take a sociology class that focused on children, and the program also offered a really cool practicum experience where I got to work at a childcare center in Denmark. Aside from getting to experience the whole Danish lifestyle, I particularly enjoyed seeing my visiting family, chatting with them [and] having hygge with them. [Hygge] is a word that doesn’t exist in English, and it basically means warmth, happiness [or] coziness. Pio: What is one of your favorite memories from your time abroad? KZ: One of my favorite parts [of the program] was visiting Tivoli, an amusement park in the middle of the city right next to the town hall. It was amazing ... It’s actually the park Disneyland was inspired by. Pio: What is one thing you wish you had known before leaving? KZ: Before I went, I didn’t know how many American students would be there, and how diverse that group would be. It was surprising to me. Kelly Chadwick - Philadelphia, PA Pio: Which program did you participate in? Kelly Chadwick: I was in the Phil-
students studied here in the fall
Pio: Why did you choose that program? KC: I wanted a program that would help me figure out what I could do as a career. I really wanted to try to do an internship and see if I liked it. I also liked that you got to play at being an adult without having to be one. You could sort of go through the process with a really big safety net. Pio: What was your favorite part or favorite memory from your time abroad? KC: Mostly my favorite part was my internship and going back to an apartment that was mine and ADVERTISEMENT
adelphia program. [The program] focuses on experiential learning. You have an internship 35 hours a week, and you also take classes that are focused on experiential learning. You get to go on field trips and your homework makes you go out into the city and do activities. For example, for one assignment we had to apply for government assistance without using the Internet.
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making food for myself. My favorite one moment was hanging out in Philly with my friends from the program the last night we were there and being able to walk around the city at night. Sam Chapman - SEA Semester Pio: Where did you go on the program? SC: [The program has] a shore component in Woods Hole, Mass. and a sea component. [On the sea component] we went from St. Croix to Granada to Dominica to Puerto Rico. Pio: What did you do? SC: The Sea Education Association [SEA] does a lot of things, some are more science-oriented, some are about plastics ... Ours was called Colonization Through Conservation in the Caribbean, so we focused primarily on change. There was a large history component, a lot of writing, and we generally wanted to know everything that made
the Caribbean islands and seas such a different place than they were when Columbus landed. I loved [the program]. We worked the ship ourselves, we got crash courses in oceanography, navigation, meteorology [and] everything we would need to survive while we were learning about history. The sheer volume of things that went into the experience was exactly my cup of tea. Pio: Do you have a favorite memory? SC: On one of the last stretches of sea, we were heading towards St. John Island and we wanted to dump all our remaining produce that we hadn’t eaten over the side of the ship, [because] when we got within 12 nautical miles of land that wouldn’t be legal any-
more. So we had to get rid of all our oranges before we crossed the 12-mile boundary. It’s sunrise, a really early watch, I’ve been up since three in the morning, the captain is there and all the mates are helping, and we’re just hurling oranges into the sunrise. Some oranges are lobbed upward so we can try to hit other oranges ... it was a gleefully chaotic sort of scene that encapsulated [the experience] pretty well. Pio: Since you’re the first Whitman student to do the SEA Semester, do you have any advice for future participants? SC: I would tell them that life aboard a ship is not really like anything that you can find on land. Temper your problems with authority and beware of seasickness.
Off-Campus Studies Office welcomes back students by EMILY LIN-JONES Feature Editor
s classes start up again for a new semester, students who spent the first half of the year abroad have returned to Whitman with no shortage of stories to tell. This past semester, the OffCampus Studies Office sent approximately 70 students abroad on semester- or year-long programs in over 30 countries across the globe, from Philadelphia to Vienna to Japan. Some of these programs were recently introduced as part of the office’s 2013 overhaul, which added many new programs to the roster and changed the way off-campus financial aid works. In the fall, students were able to enroll in over 40 new partner programs, including more programs from previously underrepresented regions like Africa and Asia. “We knew we needed to increase options in Africa,” said Director of Off-Campus Studies Susan Holme, noting the addition of programs in Morocco, South Africa and Ghana, not all of which have been taken advantage of by students yet. The changes also affected financial aid for off-campus studies. More specifically, these changes allowed students to transfer their Whitman financial aid packages to any of Whitman’s partner programs instead of paying the program’s tuition directly. In the past, students could only transfer aid to certain partner programs. Now all of Whitman’s approved programs allow transferable aid packages, and students are required to pay their Whitman tuition in place of the program tuition if they wish to transfer this aid. Last year, approximately 36 percent of the junior class participated in off-campus studies programs. According to Holme, the percentage of participating students this year has not been significantly impacted by the changes in the office. However, these changes have created
more opportunities for students whose options may have been restricted by their financial aid. Though participation in study abroad has remained stable, interest in the new programs hasn’t spiked with their introduction. One exception to this trend is an international studies program in Denmark, which attracted the highest number of students out of all available programs last semester. “Some of the new programs I think students haven’t really discovered yet. We haven’t had as many students trying them. Maybe they’re waiting to hear from other students about how they are. It’s sometimes a problem at Whitman where it takes a little while for word to get out. We’ve had fewer students trying the new programs than I would hope, but I think students will gradually try them,” said Holme. One thing that hasn’t changed in the realm of off-campus studies is the somewhat insidious presence of reverse culture shock, which many students who study abroad don’t expect when they leave. According to Holme, conflicts or discomfort can arise between students and their families and friends due to an “information gap” created by their new experiences abroad, and many of them will have difficulty finding their place in the Whitman community again. She also noted that the office does its best to provide events and activities for students to use what they’ve learned in their travels. “Sometimes before students go off campus I think they don’t realize that coming back is almost harder. When you go abroad, you anticipate that it’s going to be challenging or different, but when you come back you don’t necessarily anticipate that it’s going to be hard because it’s home,” said Holme. The Off-Campus Studies Office continues to provide resources for students returning to campus while developing and advertising their newer programs and reaching out to a wider portion of the student body.