Seize your summer: students should take advantage of study abroad opportunities

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Occidental students should take advantage of the opportunities the college offers to travel and conduct research abroad, particularly during summer and winter breaks. The International Programs Office (IPO) and departmental grants offer a variety of opportunities for students who do not have time to spend a semester abroad.

The majority of programs currently offered allow students to receive credit, scholarships and grants, leaving students with few reasons not to spend time out of the country.

Last year, almost 18 percent of Occidental’s student body either studied abroad or pursued research opportunities, internships or fellowships abroad. One hundred twenty-six of these students pursued nontraditional programs. These alternate options provide an important outlet for students who cannot or have not already spent a semester abroad to continue travelling, broaden their cultural horizons and learn about the world.

Students should not let financial barriers prevent them from seeking travel opportunities—the IPO provides resources and guidelines for students seeking financial aid when applying directly to outside organizations.

According to the IPO’s 2013 Annual Report, the college sponsored five Richter research scholars as well as 103 students participating in programs such as the Young Student Grant and Anderson Fund, Glee Club and the National Science Foundation. Of these combined 108 students, 98 travelled over school breaks and the remaining 10 did their programs during the school year or following their graduation.

Other trips, such as the “art and biography of Michelangelo and the tropical ecology courses, are organized in conjunction with classes; these faculty-led classes give students a chance to realize the real-world applications of concepts they have studied in the classroom over summer and winter breaks.

While participation in programs has increased since the IPO began tracking and supporting these “college sponsored travellers,” the number of students interested in alternative options for going abroad remains dramatically smaller than the number who apply to spend a semester abroad. Regardless of an interest in spending the summer in the tropical forests of Costa Rica or a semester at the United Nations, take the time to stop by the IPO and check out all of the opportunities it has to offer.

This editorial represents the collective opinion of the Occidental Weekly Editorial Board. Each week, the editorial board will publish its viewpoint on a matter relevant to the Occidental Community.


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