The road less traveled
Whether you’re a biochem major or short on time, these alternative destinations can gain you street and class cred
by Jennifer Wu
When Katie Poon’s adviser told her most math majors didn’t study abroad, she forged her own path and found an internship in Hong Kong with Allianz RCM, an asset management firm. Poon, 23, says the experience helped her get a feel for the working culture there and showed her she could survive in a foreign city.
Majoring in a subject that doesn’t lend itself to an international experience, or can’t fit one in your academic calendar? Read on.
Three weeks or less
Try: Volunteering at the Panya Project in Thailand
Soak in sustainable practices at this Permaculture site and give back to Mother Earth. The organization recommends a two-week minimum stay. The first week costs about $70, with each subsequent week totaling about $60.
More information: http://www.panyaproject.org/
Try: Backpacking and Fly Fishing in the wilderness
The National Outdoor Leadership School teaches environmental ethics and group dynamics. In addition to packing days’ worth of food at a time, you can expect to carry books on wilderness, first aid and regional history. Kate Walsham, who backpacked in Australia, says, “Other than resupplies, we didn’t see anyone for over a month. That meant we needed to learn how to get along with and lead people who under other circumstances we might have simply avoided.” Programs span approximately 10 to 135 days, and range as low as $3,475.
More information: http://www.nols.edu/.
Two months or more
Try: Conducting chemistry or engineering research in Berlin
DAAD RISE is a scholarship program that matches students with top institutions and research groups at universities in Germany. “The most rewarding part of the experience was being placed in a foreign country with few ties and really discovering how I adapted to the situation,” says Christina Woo, who spoke no German before starting the program.
More information: http://www.daad.de/rise/en.
Try: Studying the ethnohistory of indigenous peoples in Oaxaca, Mexico
Learn outside of the classroom with this program from UC-Davis. “One of the highlights was learning about the different dances that were performed at the Guelaguetza, an annual cultural celebration of dance and music, in class; then coming across a small performance of one of the dances in the town square of a small village, and then later seeing the same dance and how it was changed for a larger audience,” says Meera Sheffrin, who majored in chemistry. Prices average around $6,000.
More information: http://eac.ucdavis.edu/.
A semester or longer
Try: Sailing to a French Polynesian island
The Sea Education Association leads an undergraduate course focused on sustainability and ocean education at this tropical paradise and offers 17-18 credits through Boston University. These semester-long programs span from $18,400 to $25,700.
More information: http://www.sea.edu/.
Try: Taking jewelry design and culinary classes in Florence, Italy with the Lorenzo de’ Medici
The best part of the course? “Spending a week at an agriturismo (a working farm with a hotel on it) and hiking around the Tuscan countryside learning how to watercolor,” says Susie Schroeder. Tuition costs around $8,000 per semester, with housing options running an additional $1,000 to $4,000.
More information: http://www.lorenzodemedici.org/.