Approved Programs: Opportunities for Independence


Hannah Tupper and Ana Mashek, Staff Writer and Baker's Dozen Editor

While the Off-Campus Study Office offers a plethora of opportunities to travel directly through Colgate University for their study abroad experiences, other students make the leap to travel through an independent program — sometimes through other American Universities or other international higher-education institutions. 

Junior Arden Knapp currently attends the Denmark International School (DIS), based in Copenhagen, a popular destination for Colgate and American students more broadly. As a student on the pre-medical track, Knapp had a lot to consider when choosing the right abroad program for her.

“I knew that I wanted to do an approved […] study program just because I didn’t necessarily want to be with all Colgate students. I wanted to be able to have my own experience and I didn’t want to be with a Colgate professor because I just wanted to try something completely new for the whole semester,” Knapp explained. “I did a ton of research on DIS and my core course […] which is a class you travel with and gives you credit for whatever major you have back at Colgate. It’s called Human Health and Disease and so it essentially is like taking classes that [medical] school students take.”

DIS made perfect sense for Knapp; English is widely spoken in Denmark and she also has friends in the year above who are alumni of the program and raved about it. There are opportunities for intra-European travel that directly benefit her pre-medical trajectory through her aforementioned core course. It is certainly a case of experiential, hands-on learning. 

“We learn how to do sutures, and we traveled throughout Europe and [went] to different hospitals and our professors are doctors and all of our exams are basically [about] a patient case and you figure out how to diagnose […] and […] treat them,” Knapp explained.

Knapp stressed how a semester abroad is a unique time in life, and how she has experienced a sense of independence and freedom like never before. 

“When are you [ever] going to get to say that you [were] 20 years old and you got to explore all of Europe or all of Australia or all of Asia and have no consequences? Like, there are no repercussions for me just like running around and doing everything,” Knapp said. “I’m going to come back with zero dollars in my bank account and I’m going to live off, like, pennies for the summer, but that’s just part of the experience because I’m not going to ever wish that I didn’t take that trip to Paris or that I didn’t go out that night with my friends in Copenhagen. That’s sort of how I look at it.”

Sophomore Gigi Venizelos is currently studying in Stockholm, Sweden. She attends the Stockholm School of Economics and also spoke highly of the opportunities for travel outside of her home base, which can lead to unexpected findings and hidden gems. 

“I love the ability to travel to different places while studying abroad. I have traveled to more notable places such as Nice, France, but one of my favorite trips was a $40 round trip from Stockholm to Gdańsk, Poland. My new friends and I traveled for a weekend trip to a town in Poland that I would have never thought to visit. The town was beautiful, and I strengthened my connections even more while traveling with them,” said Venizelos. 

In Stockholm, too, Venizelos has found a variety of ways to get to know and appreciate her new surroundings. 

“I am super excited because spring is coming in Stockholm! I just recently started going to a market downtown that is open on weekends. There is a big amusement park – Gröna Lund – that opens [at] the end of April that I cannot wait to visit,” Venizelos said. “Public transportation in Stockholm is [also] by far the cleanest and easiest in any city I’ve visited. You get this green SL-Card that takes you on commuter trains, metros, trams, boats (from island to island) and buses. It is so convenient and inexpensive for when friends [and] family come to visit.”

Hayden Gilbert is spending his semester in Florence, Italy. He has found ways to stay connected with Colgate friends across the continent, while still immersing himself in his temporary Italian home. 

“Studying abroad in Florence has been incredible. It is easily my favorite city, and I quickly felt at home. During the weeks, exploring the city and forging relationships within my program has been very exciting,” Gilbert said. “On the weekends, I can make new memories in various places with my Colgate friends, whose programs are spread all across Europe. Each week abroad has brought a new adventure, and this is an experience I will never forget.”

Venizelos had some encouraging words for anyone even remotely considering going abroad during their time at Colgate.

“I would advise any student considering an abroad program to dive right in! It is so important to push yourself out of your comfort zone in college. There is no better way to do that than live in a city in Europe for a few months. You will meet people you never thought you would. You will learn cultural differences from locals you meet along the way, and nothing can replace that experience! If studying abroad is feasible for you, I would recommend reaching out to people who have done programs you are considering and find one that fits for you,” Venizelos said.