Well it has finally come, the time that I am able to study abroad. So far college has been quite a journey so far—wanting to study abroad my freshman year, contemplating transferring multiple times, and having to oppress my longing to travel for two school years. It’s that time now though, I can study abroad. Where to? Well that took a while to decide too. I was thinking Chile at one point, and Namibia and South Africa were on the list, Fiji was in mind for a little while as well. The final decisions were as follows: Central American for Fall 2012 and Sweden for Spring 2013.
Being a sociology major and fair trade and social justice activist, it was important for me to find programs that would I would be interested in. In Central America the program is entitled, Social Change in Central America: Exploring Peace, Justice, and Community Engagement. This program is nontraditional, allowing for a more experiential and hands-on experience. I will be taking one class in Guatemala and El Salvador, and then two classes in Nicaragua. Through out the experience, my classmates and I will be spending time in urban areas as well as rural communities. I will travel with eleven other students from colleges and universities throughout the United States.
Sweden will be a much different program. This program is much more traditional, which is what I wanted. I will go to university, Uppsala University, and take a total of four courses while I am there. The Swedish semester is quite a bit longer than a semester at Siena College, lasting from mid-January to mid-June. Even though it is longer, I am very much looking forward to spending time in Sweden. Why Sweden? Why a developed nation after spending a semester in the developing world? Well, as I mentioned before, I wanted a more traditional experience, especially after a nontraditional program. Additionally, I have become very intrigued by the societies of the Nordic countries and Scandinavia. They seem to be much more progressive than the United States; they are socially and environmentally conscious. I want to experience that sort of lifestyle as best I am able to.
It will be very interesting to study abroad in two locations that are polar opposites. Not only socially and environmentally, but developmentally they are very different. Central America is in route to where Sweden is currently at. It will be quite the juxtaposition to look at the community development methods and initiatives in both locations, being able to compare the similarities and differences.
I have quite the year ahead of me and it has yet to begin. My departure date for Central America is 20 August 2012. I still have to complete the last couple of tasks for the application for the Sweden program. I will update everyone on the status of the Sweden program in my next post. A full year abroad is quite a long time—I still have not wrapped my head around such a thing. It’s weird to even think that I won’t be going through the motions of moving back onto campus come early September. I am nervous, I will admit, but that’s natural. Being nervous reminds me that I’m human, it reminds that I’m alive. It would be completely natural for someone to be nervous about going abroad, whether it’s for a semester or a whole year. I’m not exactly sure what I am nervous about. I know I will be homesick at some point because that’s something that everyone will go through while studying abroad; it’s part of the ups and downs. I guess I am nervous because this will be something that I have never ever done before—lived in a foreign country for an extended period of time. It’s a new frontier I am exploring (I’ve always wanted to be a cowboy, I guess I am in my own way). I know I will enjoy it. It’s something I have wanted to do since I was a young kid. We’ll see what happens!
Until then, enjoy the day!