Oh The Places You'll Go: Breaking the Norms of Studying Abroad

Oh The Places You'll Go: Breaking the Norms of Studying Abroad

 A hillside in Kigali, Rwanda, where the author plans to study abroad.

A hillside in Kigali, Rwanda, where the author plans to study abroad.

Oh the Places You’ll Go! We all know the book. It’s a popular gift for high school grads and a fun way to learn about rhymes as a little kid. It’s also extremely relevant throughout your college experience, especially when it comes to deciding if, when, and where you are going to study abroad.

Barnard sees the value in giving its students the opportunity to learn in diverse, multicultural, and global settings. New York City presents many of these opportunities in and of itself. Studying abroad, however, takes the learning experience to a completely new level, offering an opportunity for Barnard women to learn and grow in a new and exciting learning environment.

But we must ask: Where are these learning environments located?

Approximately one-third of Barnard students will study abroad for either a summer, semester, or year. Our Office of Study Abroad offers 150 pre-approved programs in 60 countries and on 6 continents (sorry, Antarctica!). These programs include direct enrollment in foreign universities, field-research, and immersion experiences.

In 2016, 55% of students at U.S. universities who studied abroad went to Europe. That means over half of students who study abroad voyage to the world’s second smallest continent. Over half!

Now don’t get me wrong … Europe is an incredible place to study in, visit, and explore — especially as a young woman. Some of my fondest memories are in Paris, Rome, Salzburg, Amsterdam, Dublin, Munich, and a slew of other European cities. But I think we can all agree on one thing — for as much as Europe has to offer, it doesn’t offer everything. There are places beyond Paris, Rome, Salzburg, Amsterdam, Dublin, and Munich that offer experiences of equally rich value and cultural immersion.

As a Barnard student, you can study music in Austria, history in Belgium, or gender studies in The Netherlands. However, just as those opportunities to study in Europe exist, students have an equal number of opportunities to study social movements in Indonesia, ecology in Panama, or urbanization in Madagascar. These are just a few examples of the many, many, many opportunities Barnard gives its students to study whatever and wherever their hearts desire!

In addition to its European programs, Barnard offers…

  • 18 pre-approved programs in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • 7 pre-approved programs in Oceania

  • 7 pre-approved programs in the Middle East

  • 24 pre-approved programs in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean

  • 27 pre-approved programs in Asia

  • 3 pre-approved programs in multiple countries

Impressive, right? But why am I telling you this?

As a Political Science major and Africana Studies minor, I am passionate about the study of peace and conflict in East and Central Africa. I specifically research peace-building mechanisms, transitional justice systems, and women’s roles in post-conflict states. Thanks to Barnard’s global reach, in a year from now, I am going to be moving to Kigali, Rwanda to pursue a semester-long study abroad program on post-genocide restoration and peace-building. In this program, I will live with a host family, do an internship, and travel through Rwanda and parts of Uganda, in addition to taking classes.

Thanks to Barnard’s global reach, I am able to study peace and reconciliation movements in a country whose recent history — and more importantly its transition out of that history — epitomizes peace and reconciliation. I am able to challenge myself by moving to a country in the Global South, by learning languages seldom spoken outside of that region (Kiswahili and Kinyarwanda), by confronting my role as an American in a post-conflict state, and by growing to love and appreciate a culture poorly known by my community back home. Most importantly, I am able to become “Barnard bold” by breaking the norms of studying abroad in pursuit of a global, culturally-immersive experience I can call my own.

Oh the places you’ll go, I’ll go, we’ll go … as Barnard students.

New York City in December

New York City in December

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