How Not to Study Abroad

By Fiona Redmond, News Editor

The articles circulating about Study Abroad seem to be endless: “10 Tips For Studying Abroad,” “Why Studying Abroad in England Was Literally The Best Choice I Have Ever Made,” “Drop Everything Immediately And Head To The Nearest Airport So You Can Study Abroad.” I could go on.

The same culture surrounding study abroad can be seen on campus at Bryn Mawr College. There are “Post Cards From Abroad” events, countless information sessions and even special dining hall nights celebrating the experiences students have had going abroad. We have a wonderful and robust support system for those who go abroad, and that is a great thing. But what about those who are left behind?

I am a junior and I won’t be studying abroad. Like, at all. As in: I will be staying on Bryn Mawr’s campus for my entire junior year. I’ll take a minute to let that sink it; I know it’s a strange thing to hear in the Bi-Co.

For some, studying abroad simply doesn’t work, whether it be for financial reasons, class schedules or just personal preference. And while studying abroad is more of a norm at Bryn Mawr than it is at other colleges, the dynamic it creates on campus still comes with its own host of complications.

For instance, while I won’t be studying abroad at all this year, all of my friends will be leaving for the spring semester. And to be honest, that makes me sad, and even a little bit anxious. How will Bryn Mawr a place that has been my home for the past two and a half years feel when the people who have helped shape my experience here are gone?

Maybe I’m being dramatic; after all, it’s not like everyone in my year is leaving for good. But while Bryn Mawr supports and encourages students to go abroad, those who are unable to can sometimes feel (literally) left behind.

It can be discouraging seeing all of those articles about why studying abroad is the best choice a student can ever make. And while I’m glad that people can experience authentic Italian food, or watch the sunset in Denmark at 3:30 p.m., that doesn’t mean that people who stay on campus are getting cheated out of a life-changing experience. It just means our junior year experiences will be different.

And let’s face it: junior year is confusing and stressful enough already. Course loads get tougher, papers get longer, and thesis writing seems to be just around the corner. Those of us who are staying shouldn’t spend time worrying that we’re missing out by staying at Bryn Mawr. Instead, we can celebrate the experiences of those we know who have the chance to go abroad and make the most of the four years that we have here in the Bi-Co.  

From the print edition published on Dec. 7, 2016

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *