Bursting the Europe Bubble

Jessica Blank

The decision to go on a Colgate sponsored or non-Colgate spon­sored study abroad program can be a difficult choice. With Colgate programs guaranteeing credit trans­fers, offering financial aid and pro­viding Colgate professors as pro­gram leaders, many students choose the seemingly safer route. However, with only 21 Colgate programs, destinations are limited. Of these programs, only eight are based in continents other than Europe. For this reason, President Herbst wants to extend Colgate study abroad pro­grams to other areas of the world.

In President Herbst’s inaugural speech, he addressed the importance of study abroad programs.

“Of course, Colgate’s study groups, an iconic aspect of our edu­cation, have long extended our com­munity overseas. In the twenty-first century, we must seek additional models of study abroad that provide students with the opportunities to travel anywhere, especially in regions outside of Europe that are becoming ever more important,” Herbst said.

Herbst intends to extend the Colgate study abroad programs by improving many aspects, such as application for transfer credits and financial aid.

When further asked about these improvements, President Herbst said that he wants to focus his attention on financial aid.

“We are looking at what the prospects are to make financial aid affordable for students, part in non-Colgate programs, but also, we are looking to see what other obstacles there are for our students studying overseas,” Herbst said.

Europe is a popular study abroad destination for Colgate students due to its accessibility, familiar languages and location.

“Well, at first, I wanted to go some place more unusual and not so mainstream, but when it came down to it, I wanted to be able to travel easily, and I feel like once you’re in Europe, you can travel to so many different countries while you’re there, so while I’m studying in Spain, I’ll be able to see almost all of Europe, or at least a big chunk,” junior Sarah Branz said.

President Herbst understands Europe’s appeal. However, he wants to diversify students’ destinations.

“Europe makes sense to a lot of students to study abroad, and it is most familiar to them. I think we want to explain to students the op­portunities to study abroad over­seas outside of Europe. There are six billion people in the world and only 700 million are in Europe,” Herbst said.

Senior Eric Conocenti under­stood President Herbst’s argument and knew that he wanted to immerse himself in a different culture.

“I am a Chinese major and I knew that studying abroad in Chi­na would be extremely valuable in helping me find a job after I gradu­ate because, to really appreciate and understand the Chinese cul­ture, simply studying the language and reading books in a classroom doesn’t suffice,” Conocenti said.

When asked about his decision to travel abroad to New Zealand, senior Nathan Dalrymple said that he could visit Europe in the future and wanted to study in a less popular destination.

“I basically chose New Zealand because it was far away and I would not have many opportunities to make that type of a trip, and what better time to do it than in col­lege?” Dalrymple said. “I didn’t go with Colgate because they only had a few programs and I wasn’t inter­ested in them. I wanted something a little more exotic.”

Meanwhile, Associate Dean of Faculty Ian Helfant, agrees that studying abroad in other areas of the world can be a real challenge for students and is very excited to see some changes taking place to offer students more options. Many of these difficulties stem from the lack of Colgate study groups. To fix this problem, the Fund for Innova­tion in Study Abroad is being offered to groups of three pro­fessors, who will then receive a grant to visit some study abroad destinations in Asia, Africa and Latin America where existing institutions are located. Within the next two years, a list will be compiled of institutions abroad that are pre-approved by Col­gate. While this does not mean that new Colgate programs will necessarily be created in other locations, the list will provide better guidance for students.

“If we can send three or more faculty to look at the institutions, we are hoping we can develop an organic set of relationships that are vetted and that we can stand be­hind,” Helfant said. “We want to have a list of approved programs. We will not replace Colgate pro­grams, but it is a matter of recog­nizing that we are lacking programs in some areas and the list will help to increase diversity.”

The Study Abroad Office is in the process of hiring a new Direc­tor of Off-Campus Study. With the new director and the ambi­tions of President Herbst, Helfant is excited to see the progress and diversification of study abroad programs at Colgate.