Summer Study Abroad, from London to the Galapagos Islands
by Lyssa Goldberg | University of Miami
With summer in full swing for some college students and the end of spring semester rapidly approaching for others, an extended three-month break brings opportunities for summer experiences like studying abroad.
From pub-hopping in London to snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands, studying abroad lets students do more than take classes in a country outside of the United States, and summer is an increasingly popular time to do so.
The Institute of International Education’s 2011 Open Door Report showed that the number of U.S. students studying abroad in 2009-2010 rose by nearly four percent since 2008-2009. In addition, the report shows that a greater percentage of students traveled during the summer than during either the fall or spring semester.
Whether they plan to learn a new language or simply travel to a country they have never before visited, college students studying abroad this summer aim to benefit from once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
Caroline Levens, a rising sophomore at the University of Miami, is currently studying international public relations and European Culture in the heart of London.
A public relations major at Miami, Levens said she will be visiting key PR agencies across the United Kingdom. But she said she is also looking at this trip as a chance to step outside of her comfort zone and experience new things, like taking the Tube and going to a pub.
“I’m in love with London, and it’s only been a few days,” Levens said. “More than anything, it’s been super eye-opening to see so many cultural differences between the U.S. and England.”
Adriana Chait, a rising sophomore at Florida State University, is also headed for London this summer, but for an entirely different reason. A business management major with an interest in sports management, Chait said she looks forward to experiencing the Summer 2012 Olympics taking place in London.
“I hope that studying abroad will help me build important connections in order for me to excel in my future career,” Chait said. “I also hope to witness sports overseas on a personal level, beyond what is shown on television.”
Chait said she will be taking courses called Issues in International Sports and International Sport Venues, as well as visiting various sports venues and events, including the British Open and Olympic events like archery and volleyball.
For Megan Dettmer, a rising sophomore at the University of Miami, studying abroad in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands will be the first time she leaves the United States.
Dettmer said she will be snorkeling, surfing, hiking and recording a CD of the sounds of the wildlife.
“The more I heard about the program, the more I wanted to go,” Dettmer said.
Dettmer also said she expects to take note of the cultural differences in the Galapagos.
“In the Galapagos, you can’t drink the water and you have to be careful of what you eat,” she said. “I believe this trip will be an eye-opening experience and teach me many valuable life lessons, even though it’s only a short two-week program.”
Some college students, like Natalia Holdia and Madelyn Tarr, want to learn a new language alongside native speakers.
Holdia, a rising junior at Florida International University, said she learned about a program in Perugia, Italy from her Italian professor at school.
“I hope to be able to speak more freely in Italian because I’m good at reading but I have problems talking,” Holdia said.
In addition to noting that the program looks good on her transcript, Holdia said she will take advantage of traveling to other cities, like Rome, which is just a short train ride away.
Tarr, a rising sophomore at the University of Miami, is currently studying in Santander, Spain, hoping to improve her Spanish-speaking skills and move closer toward fluency in the language.
“We’ve only just started classes, but I can tell that, even though we are learning a lot in those classes, I’m learning more just by being in Santander and interacting with people on a daily basis,” Tarr said.
Tarr said she is taking a class in Spanish grammar as well as Spanish culture and history and will also be visiting caves with prehistoric art and taking longer overnight trips to Bilbao, Barcelona and Madrid.
Tarr said the economic state of Spain has not affected any part of her experience besides the curriculum of her culture class.
“We spend a lot of time talking about the unemployment rate and about the young, college-educated people who struggle to find work,” she said.Lyssa is a NGJ College Reporter and a sophomore at the University of Miami, where she is studying journalism and political science. She is assistant editor of her school's student newspaper, The Miami Hurricane. She also writes for Distraction, the student lifestyle magazine.