Academic opportunities to go abroad are not out of your reach at W&J. With an expansive list of countries and partner universities to study at, there is a place for anyone with enough ambition to plan properly. Not only can you gain fluency in the local language, you have the opportunity to develop valuable new skills, gain independence, and boost your self-confidence. It is a rare opportunity to get out of the country, broaden your horizons, and learn from the educational systems and lifestyles of other nations.
Most often when studying abroad, students tend to focus on the overall experience, sometimes overlooking the invaluable educational aspects of the trip. In addition to acquiring cultural experience and diversity, students can easily fulfill many of the requirements mandated for their liberal arts education. Through W&J, studying abroad can fulfill prerequisites in general education as well as requirements for major and minor program. Students can study abroad for an entire year or just a single semester. W&J has ties with sister schools in numerous countries whose languages are taught here on campus; these include Germany, Russia, Mexico, Japan, and Columbia. Students are presented with the opportunity to study in these countries to enhance their language skills. Depending on the specific program, the classes can be taught entirely in the particular foreign language of study, English, or a combination of both.
In addition to the sister schools, there are opportunities to study and travel to locales spanning Europe, Asia, Australia and Latin America, experiencing and absorbing the culture, lifestyle and surroundings therein. Academic study-abroad opportunities are a chance to get away from home and the traditional college campus setting. While abroad, students are encouraged to travel and explore surrounding areas to expand their cultural diversity even further while still gaining a unique and well-rounded education.
The Minor Leagues of Study Abroad
Study abroad may not be for everyone, but there are a lot of good ways to test the waters and find out how well-adjusted you are to a foreign environment. Who wants to commit to an entire semester or year abroad before you know if you'll enjoy the country or school? That's where the minor leagues of study abroad come in.
Possibly the best time to get acquainted with a new foreign country is during Intersession, when W&J students get to dedicate the entirety of January to a single endeavor. And while most students may spend that time ice skating or blowing glass, you could be shopping for pearls in the Ginza district of Tokyo, pounding back Lion's Brew in Munich, eating pesto in Florence, or relaxing at Phoenix Park in Dublin. If you have to take a Sociology class, why not have the entirety of Japan as a classroom? Head off to China and choose between Political Science or History credit, depending on what you choose to focus on during the trip. There's really no excuse to not go abroad during at least one out of your four Intersessions while at W&J.
And let's not forget the summer sessions - sure, summer school sucks, but it sucks a whole lot less when you're walking down the Champs Elysees in Paris or riding the Eye of the Millennium in London during your time off class. Studying abroad during the summer is something you usually have to set up yourself (be sure beforehand that the credits can be transferred back to W&J), but it's a great middle ground between Intersession and Study Abroad in terms of immersion. If you use the two to build up to a period of study abroad, you'll be that far ahead of the game already.
Based on the interview 4/17/2007; Nicole M. Kennedy, Class of 2007
1.) Did you do your traveling as a study abroad or internship?
I did an internship for my undergraduate chemistry research.
2.) Where did you travel to and how long was your stay there?
I decided to do my research in Thailand, and ended up staying there for almost three months.
3.) What was your biggest motive for studying abroad?
Visiting a foreign country and engaging in their culture. The adventure!
4.) During what part of the School year did you travel? (Fall, Intersession, Summer)
It was during the summer.
5.) Did you go to a country in which you could speak a foreign language you are learning at Washington & Jefferson College?
Nope - Thai was the language, and I didn't speak a lick of it.
6.) What was your favorite part of the trip?
There were so many aspects of my trip that I loved. I went scuba diving, rode elephants -- I got to sit along their necks and the elephants ears were flapping my legs! It was an unreal experience.
7.) Would you recommend going abroad/interning to other Washington & Jefferson College students?
Absolutely! There's nothing else that can replace the study abroad experience.
8.) What was the biggest difference between the United States and the country that you traveled to? And what was the hardest thing or aspect to get used to there?
What wasn't different? The hardest aspect was the language barrier, because I didn't know any Thai, but you're basically diving headfirst into a completely new world. It's definitely a challenge, but you learn to adapt.
9.) While you were away, did you find yourself missing the States and your regular way of life or were you thinking that you would love to stay there?
The first couple weeks I was home sick, but that was just an adjustment phase -- afterwards I didn't want to return home!
10.) What were some of the activities that you did in your free time? Were there any special or big tourist attractions that you visited?
I went North, South, East and West of Bangkok. I rode elephants, went to the jungles, went to the beaches, scuba diving, saw all the temples... it was all amazing. The country is absolutely brimming with things to do.
11.) While you were there, were you in dorm/campus style housing or did you stay with a family?
We stayed in "Princess suites" -- they were pretty much equivalent to a hotel, except one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in. Unbelievable stuff.
For More Information
Viet Ha - Director of Study Abroad & Off-Campus Programs
Burnett Center 010
724-503-1001, Ext. 6004