Study abroad is an attractive opportunity for college students. After all, there a few situations in life where one can spend some months in another country without any serious commitment. But there are still a number of challenges involved when trying to leave the country, and the process can be grueling. Nevertheless, this spring semester, 13 New College students are spending the next few months scattered across the globe. Spending the semester anywhere from England to Tunisia, these students managed to make their study abroad dreams come true.
The process of studying abroad, once someone has decided to commit to it, begins with searching for a program. Florence Zamsky, the study abroad advisor, said there are a variety of routes available to students who want to take a few weeks, a semester, a summer or a year abroad.
The National Student Exchange (NSE) has six study abroad locations that New College students have available to them, and students also have the option of signing up through another Florida state school such as Florida State University or University of Florida. There are also outside programs, which tend to be a bit pricier, according to Zamsky, but offer a wider variety of choices. Finally, students can arrange for a direct enrollment, although Zamsky said the school does not recommend it.
This semester, the majority of students abroad have gone through programs of their own, with none of the 13 enrolled in any Florida state school programs. This semester also shows an unusual gravitation toward England, with four of the 13 students located across the pond.
One such student is third-year Alicia “Lici” Blackburn, who is studying at Goldsmiths University of London this semester in a theater, anthropology and educational program. Blackburn enrolled through Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), a non-profit study abroad organization.
“London is such a diverse place … that I feel like I’m constantly learning and seeing new things,” Blackburn said. “You’re more likely to hear any number of languages than English at a given time and place.”
Blackburn, who is a Canadian citizen with permanent residence in the United States, experienced “a lot of bureaucratic back-and-forth” to enroll in the program, but said, “looking back, it was definitely worth all the trouble.”
“I’m loving every second of it,” Blackburn added.
Although Blackburn is one of four New College students located in England right now, another New College student is alone on her journey to Tunisia. Third-year and international studies AOC Elizabeth Sockol is enrolled through the School for International Training (SIT). Sockol’s AOC includes a study abroad requirement, and she decided to spend it in Tunisia to help with her thesis.
“My thesis is going to look at a comparative study between the way Tunisia and Morocco’s government have implemented the women’s equality reforms in a legal sphere that came into effect as a result of the Arab Spring,” Sockol explained. “I am studying Arabic here as well, which was one of my requirements so it turned out to be kind of the perfect situation.”
“I applied to SRTG, CAA, and other scholarships and was able to get about 10,000 of the $20,000 [cost] covered,” Sockol said, adding that she took out about $10,000 in loans, as well as raising about $1,000 in a gofundme account.
Zamsky meets with more than 100 students every semester to discuss study abroad options. “The biggest obstacle in the end is funding,” Zamsky acknowledged, but added that she has tailored her list of recommended programs in the past to a reasonable
price range. “The lowest you can expect is about $11,000,” Zamsky said. “And the higher end that I look at for in-state students is about $18,000.”
Zamsky added that for out-ofstate students, who are typically used to paying a bigger chunk of money for their New College education, she can work with a wider price range.
CIEE and SIT are among a collection of programs that Zamsky recommends for students who are interested in studying abroad. The list also includes the Oxford Study Abroad program, IFSA-Butler, and CET, among a number of other programs. “Most students study abroad in their second or third year,” Zamsky said. “There tend to be more students abroad in the Fall than the Spring.” Studying abroad during the thesis year is possible, but not recommended unless the program has a direct connection to a student’s thesis.
About 15 to 20 New College students on average are studying abroad in any given semester.
“I have never met a student who went to study abroad and came back disappointed,” Zamsky said. “I am willing to meet with anyone who has the slightest interest in study abroad.”
Deadlines for study abroad programs and scholarships for Fall 2014 are closing in, and the New College deadline to declare the intention to leave campus next semester is April 1.