Fall is now hanging over our heads, and with it, comes the rain sprinkling down on students decked out in Seahawks gear, beanies resting cozily on the top of heads, and flannels, Uggs and coffee are in abundance. While some students are basking in the ambience of fall and preparing for another year at Pacific Lutheran University, others have their thoughts on the warm beaches of Trinidad and Tobago, exploring Machu Picchu in Peru, or tramping around the hiking trails across New Zealand. Here at PLU, we are fortunate enough to attend a school with a truly outstanding Study Away program, and the Study Away Fair last Wednesday, provided students with more places for their minds to wander while bored in class.
The Study Away Fair last Wednesday was an impressive display of the many trips that PLU has to offer this coming January and Spring semester. This January, PLU is offering 16 trips that will take students to 13 different countries. For those of us whom aren’t quite ready to make the overseas venture, PLU also offers four domestic programs that take students to California, Arizona, Washington D.C., as well as Washington’s own Neah Bay and downtown Tacoma. If the list of trips isn’t impressive enough as is, last year during January Term, PLU was able to place students on all seven continents at the same time. Manager of Short-Term Study Away trips, Megan Grover, explains why PLU has such an amazing Study Away program.
Grover states that “PLU is unique in that we offer a January Term. J-Term allows student to take on month and dedicate it to a Study Away experience.” In addition to devoting a month to Studying Away, PLU is also able to help students financially. Grover explains, “The Global Scholar Award can save students up to a thousand dollars. In addition, Study Away semester programs may be more or less expensive than current tuition, but students are able to use their financial aid package. Students will essentially pay the same price they are paying to attend PLU, and I’ve seen students save money by studying away.” Due to PLU’s J-term, and willingness to financially accommodate students, students are able to realize their dreams of Studying Away.
One student, Francesca Hernandez, will be spending her January on the warm, sandy beaches of Trinidad and Tobago, while we are freezing in the pouring rain. Studying away is an exciting prospect for Hernandez, stating, “It’s a really good idea to experience things and culture you aren’t used to; it’s a really good life lesson to see the world.” Hernandez, a Social Work major, is most excited about the opportunity to serve and play an active role in Trinidad and Tobago. “I really like getting involved with the community, whether its kids, or people in poverty, or just people who need help in general” said Hernandez.
Another student, Quinn Huelsbeck, shed some light on his life-changing trip to Antarctica and Argentina last J-Term. “This last J-term was the first time I had been out of the country and I was luck enough to visit Patagonia in Argentina and also Antarctica. Because of this trip, I now crave travel and often find myself daydreaming.” As Hernandez said, Huelsbeck also acknowledged the importance of experiencing a different culture, “the learning experience you get from experiencing new cultures is so powerful, I decided to Study Away again this coming J-Term. Huelsbeck will be attending the Ecuador and Peru trip this January.
Sophomore Abby Tenhoff has yet to study away, but plans on doing so and encourages everyone else do so as well. “Its easy to be sheltered and not really know the world or any struggles that people go through so if you go to a different culture and see how people live, it really expands your view of thing” she said. “Everyone comes back from Studying Away as a completely different person, they seem to realize whats important in life and are able to not worry so much about the little things.
Professor Gina Hames, who has lead J-Term trips for the past eight years, weighs in on how important Studying Away is. “It’s a transformative experience for students” said Hames. “You learn about yourself, but it also helps students analyze their own culture as well.” Hames has also seen Studying Away widen students focus for job opportunities. “Students seem to have a narrow view of employment options, and studying abroad helps students widen their vision of employment opportunities after graduation” said Hames. The feedback on the Study Away program concludes that it is a positive, and powerful experience.
While the students at PLU hold a very positive outlook on Studying Away, Grover offers more insight as to why studying away is such a powerful experience. “PLU tries to design programs so that they are not just surface-level experiences” Grover explained. “We place emphasis on community based programs and students give back in some way.” Not only can students travel through PLU, but students also earn course credit while doing so. “College is the perfect time to Study Away program because you earn class credit while traveling” said Grover. “You are learning about the area and learning about yourself; you are pushing your limits and trying new things and being flexible and adapting to new situations.” Since the whole purpose of college is to hopefully attain a dream job after graduation, Grover points out “employers are looking for students who have global experience, because they look for people who can adapt easily, who aren’t afraid to test their limits.”
As students at PLU, we should really try to utilize the fantastic Study Away program we are fortunate to have. If you are curious about Study Away opportunities, head on down to the Wang Center located at 868 Wheeler St. You can also give them a call at 253-535-7577 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for the next Study Away Fair in November. Hernandez said it best: “PLU hands us these opportunities, why not take them and learn something in the process.”