Though some students remain reluctant to leave campus, the number of those studying abroad experienced a slight increase this year as the University continues its efforts to expand international study opportunities, undergraduate study abroad advisor Karyn Jones said.
This year, 89 students have been approved to study abroad in the spring, compared to 82 last year. Jones said that after a “nice jump” from the 2002-2003 year to the 2003-2004 year, the numbers of students studying abroad are still going up, but at a slower rate. For the first time students are studying in Panama, Lebanon and Uruguay, Jones said, and Latin American and African locales have increased in popularity for student study.
“I think that when you’re at such a strong institution as Yale, there’s going to be a reluctance from students and their parents to leave,” said Jones, who works for the University’s Office of International Education and Fellowship Programs. “But what students saw as giving up a semester is slowly being seen as something that can enhance their experience here.”
The administration has made the expansion of international opportunities a higher priority, emphasizing study abroad in the Spring 2003 recommendations of the Committee on Yale College Education. Jones said that she “definitely” thinks there has been a push to get students involved in the programs, and that the support of higher level administrators will help make studying abroad more popular.
The Office of International Education and Fellowship Programs was created five years ago, and Jones is the first full time University study abroad advisor. Students who plan to go abroad this spring said the program has been very helpful.
“[Jones] answered any questions I had, and put me in the direction of other students who had studied abroad and program heads who could give me information that she couldn’t,” said Sherrise Pond ’06, who will spend the spring studying in Paris.
Pond said that studying in Paris will be helpful both in improving her language skills and in fulfilling her requirements as a political science major.
“There are political science classes here that are taught in French, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking them if I wasn’t going to get more experience with the language,” she said.
Mary Catherine Hollis ’06 said her spring studies in Rome will also enhance her experience in the religious studies program.
‘I thought that Rome would be an interesting place to study because I’m particularly interested in Catholicism,” said Hollis, who is thinking about becoming a nun. “And hopefully I’ll be able to speak better Italian, too.”
While Pond and Hollis said their time abroad will help them in their fields of study, many other students feel bound to New Haven by their majors’ requirements, Pond said. Ari Romney ’06, who will be studying in Kenya this spring, said Yale policies do not seem to encourage study abroad.
“Yale is really strict in terms of what you can get credit for, and the logistics,” Romney said
Many students who choose not to study abroad do so because they do not want to miss out on their time at Yale.
“Studying abroad is an awesome experience but Yale has so much to offer on campus,” Rachelle Orozco ’07 said. “I don’t want to miss out on a whole semester taking stimulating classes with some of the best people I’ve ever met.”
But those who decided to leave are optimistic about their travels away from Yale’s familiar buildings.
“Going away from a place makes you love it even more,” Pond said. “I think that by going abroad and studying in a different place, I’ll be more refreshed when I come back senior year.”
Darby Jones ’06, who will spend next summer in Santander, Spain, said visiting other countries helps American students become more politically aware.
“I think it’s really important for students — particularly American students — to go abroad so they can get a different perspective from students in other countries, to help them view the actions that are taken by our government,” she said.