This month, a handful of Curry College students are exploring plans to study abroad for the fall and spring semesters with destinations that include Costa Rica, London and Japan. As travel restrictions relax, the College offers several ways for students to travel either semester-long or short-term trips through its Study Away program. Students who return from the trips describe it as a “life-changing” event and tout the program for helping them gain a global perspective by being immersed in new cultures, people, languages, and cuisines while growing as confident, independent and resilient young adults.
Though his time in Italy last spring was cut short due to the pandemic, Patrick Bouthillette ’21 says the five weeks living abroad in Florence was an incredible experience and one he’d jump at again. “I was captivated by the idea of studying abroad ever since I went on a faculty-led trip to France my senior year of high school. After that, I could not wait to have the chance to travel again,” says the communication major. “I studied abroad in Spring 2020, and it was truly the most incredible experience. I grew so much by learning a foreign language, found amazing friends that live throughout the U.S. and that I keep in touch with today on top of trying so many different and new types of food. My favorite experience from abroad has to either be the faculty-led weekend trip to Venice or the Italian cooking class where I learned how to make homemade ravioli and tiramisu.”
Curry works with program providers in more than 30 countries, including semester-long programs in England, Ireland, France, China, Thailand, and Australia. Additionally, students can partake in several new short-term faculty-led- trips for the Spring 2022 semester, including London, Florence, Paris and Ambialet, France. The one to three-week trips are centered around an academic course allowing students to earn credits and take their learning on location. Students interested in public health, for example, will join Dr. Melissa Weinstein in Havana in March to study Cuba’s universal healthcare model, a trip that was postponed from last year.
“I am looking forward to exposing students to a vastly different cultural and academic experience and taking on hands-on learning together,” says Dr. Weinstein, an associate professor of public health. “I am excited to explore the public health community of Havana and to learn from the local professionals as well as from each other as we immerse ourselves into the culture through activities such as salsa dancing and Cuban cooking. It is such a unique opportunity for both myself as well as the students, and I am thrilled to be able to share it with them.”
Working with its international program partners, initial testing and a temporary quarantine upon arrival are the new best practices for students studying abroad, says Mireille McLaughlin, director of international student and study away program. Another precaution many programs employ is not to allow students to jump from country to country in weekend excursions. “It was common for students to board a train or plane to go somewhere else each weekend, but it’s a bit more limited now. While more restricted, it’s a good opportunity for students to get to know their host city and travel more within their host country.”
For the spring semester, McLaughlin says a few dozen students are already considering plans to travel throughout the U.S. and abroad and encourages more to consider a study away program which closes registration in October. Traveling for an internship is yet another opportunity that is growing in popularity among students today. The Communication program at Curry offers internship opportunities for students in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York City to intern at Universal Pictures, CBS News, and The Washington Post. More travel opportunities for internships are growing and available for other majors as well, says McLaughlin.
Bouthillette and others work in the Study Away office as ambassadors for the program and have created multiple videos and other multimedia projects sharing their experiences abroad. “My biggest advice to everyone who plans on studying abroad: Enjoy every moment you’re abroad and (safely) expand your comfort zone.”