Carleton students who are returning to campus this winter term agree that studying in another country is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Carleton has a plethora of study abroad programs for students to choose from, offered by various departments in the college and by other organizations, such as the School for International Training (SIT) and the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE).
Anschel Burk (’14) attended HECUA’S Community Internships in Latin America program, a social justice program based in Quito, Ecuador, which focuses on the social, economic, and cultural conflicts facing Ecuador and how these conflicts relate back to each of the student participants in the U.S.
Through the program, Burk started to reevaluate his life in the U.S. It showed him that he could adapt his normal practices of taking the bus and using a washing machine into slower and more energy-efficient practices like walking and hand-washing clothes. Returning back to the U.S., Burke has found more passion for the development issues facing Ecuador and the relationships he made while abroad. “I will carry them with me for the rest of my life,” he said.
Approximately 70 percent of Carleton students in each graduating class have gone on at least one study abroad program. Of the class of 2012, 27 percent participated in two programs, two percent in three programs, and two students in four programs. Students in the same class participated in 132 different programs in 49 different countries.
Naomi Ziegler, the Assistant Director of Off-Campus Studies (OCS) at Carleton says that study abroad allows students to extend their curriculum beyond the course offerings available at Carleton, to experience growth through exposure to a new culture and newfound independence, and to find more purpose and passion in life.
Not all study abroad experiences are positive, though. “Students can experience disorientation and social isolation,” Ziegler added. “However, this initial discomfort can also lead to positive personal growth.”
For students, the OCS office at Carleton is a resource for students. “We provide advising information from pre-departure to re-entry,” said Ziegler. “What seems like a seamless process for the student is made possible because of the behind-the-scenes work done by various offices on campus, like the Business Office, Registrar’s Office, Residential Life, and Student Financial Services.”
Ziegler’s advice to students is to consider studying abroad at least once and to come in for an appointment at the OCS Office to make an informed decision. She encourages returning students to set aside time to actively reflect on the experience.
“It’s easy to get immersed in regular life, but it’s important to carry some things forward and integrate positive practices from your host country into your every-day life at home,” she said.
Students say that having an OCS experience can be indispensable, resulting in global competence, a new passion for a social justice issues, and more. The learning experiences as well as the social networks made can serve as starting points for students for future career paths and in their journey of living a meaningful life.