Oberlin Blogs

Study away: My advice

December 11, 2008

Chris Gollmar ’10

I have one week to go in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Before I find myself completely overwhelmed readjusting to life in the U.S., I thought I would share a few pointers for anyone who thinks studying abroad is in their future.

  1. Study away. If you can find a way to make it work, do it. Studying away isn’t just for language students; there are programs for students of all majors.
  2. Start planning now. Planning to study away isn’t just as simple as choosing where you want to go. Consider how it is going to fit in with the rest of your curriculum. What classes do you have to take now? What about when you get back? Will all of your credits transfer? What if they don’t? Aside from any academic planning, you must also consider how you are going to make travel arrangements, keep in touch with family and friends, and manage your finances from another part of the world.
  3. Go somewhere new. Step outside of the famed “Oberlin bubble,” but also step outside of your comfort zone. Studying away is a unique opportunity to travel and get to know another culture, an opportunity that doesn’t come by very often.
  4. Immerse yourself. If you study abroad in a large city, chances are there is a sizeable community of other U.S. students and expats, which means it’s entirely possible to spend an entire semester without really integrating yourself with the local community. Yes, it’s hard to step out and socialize with people in a new place, in a new culture, but it’s also worth it. Furthermore, if your goal is to learn a language, practice it. I can’t tell you how many other American students I’ve met in Buenos Aires that haven’t learned a word of Spanish while they’ve been here. (Some actually seem to get worse.)
  5. Don’t let worldwide financial crises stand in your way. Choose an Oberlin-affiliated program and watch your financial aid travel with you (as Yitka also suggests here). Hell, it may even be cheaper to study abroad than to study at Oberlin!

Those are my humble words of advice for now. There is surely plenty more to be said.

Have you taken a semester or two away to study somewhere new? Take a moment and share your own words of advice below.

Responses to this Entry

Chris, your advice is right on. I've been lucky to have a number of awesome travel experiences at Oberlin, and I would definitely encourage everyone with any interest at all to do the same. I'd add that in addition to studying abroad for an entire semester or year, there are lots of opportunities for travel during the summer and especially during Winter Term. I know people who have gone (or are going to) to El Salvador, Costa Rica, Japan, Thailand, Spain, and Kenya. Not to mention pretty much every city in the United States.

There are even plenty of organizations on campus that will sponsor travel, like Shansi, the Winter Term committee, and many academic departments.

The other thing I'd add to you tips is this: keep a journal or blog. It's hard for me to find the time, but I find it helps me remember and recall a lot of the amazing experiences I've had.

Also, come back to campus already! We miss you.

(I don't think this posted right, so I'm trying again.)

Posted by: Ezra S. on December 12, 2008 2:16 PM

Great advice! Some of them are common sense though…

A year ago I exchanged my beloved Ohio for tropical Costa Rica for a semester… I participated in the study abroad program for a Costa Rican academic experience… And what a GREAT experience it was!!

Really! study abroad is not only about learning stuff but it’s also about immersing yourself into another culture, traditions and life style. It is such a great opportunity to grow as an individual…

In my case I was recommended the “ACM Tropical Field Research” (Affiliated Program), and found tons of information about Costa Rica in travel related websites…

Some advice I can give to those still undecided to study abroad is Don’t Be!! Just make sure you do the proper research and planning before your trip.

Posted by: Paul B. on July 31, 2009 9:35 PM

Hi i was wondering where other places that Oberlin is allowing students to go? I'm interested in East Asian studies and it would be an amazing opportunity to visit South Korea and experience things before i move after college. Thanks :)

Posted by: Elena on December 4, 2011 8:47 PM

Hey Elena,

There are a huge number of places that fall under the four designations: 1) Oberlin Enrolled Not-in-Residence (ENR) Programs; 2) Consortial Programs; 3) Oberlin Affiliated Programs; and 4) Non-affiliated Programs. You can see a full list of our current approved and affiliated programs on the Office of Study Away website.


Posted by: Ma'ayan on December 5, 2011 11:49 AM

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