There are a lot of things about college that confuse and bewilder me. In my near two years as a student at West Chester, however, I have learned to just let most things go. People joined together in a circle outside of Main Hall singing? Why question it? A professor decides to drop a final project from the syllabus last minute? Fine by me. Most of these occurrences around campus, academic or not, don’t really bother or concern me, so I refrain from placing much thought on them.
Something has recently moseyed into my scope of interest though. I’ll give you some hints: two words, has its own “fare,” and it can take you anywhere you choose. Okay, this could take a while, so I’ll just spill; I’m talking about none other than the oh-so-elusive study abroad program.
I always used to think (before my post-secondary schooling days, that is) that studying abroad was a very common thing for most college students, a rite of passage almost. I vaguely remember the topic coming up during orientation, and perhaps a few times afterwards.
But recently, study abroad has been everywhere. I can’t turn a corner in Main without seeing a poster advertising that you can travel to this country or that one. I even have professors handing out flyers in class. Not to mention that Sykes held a Study Abroad fair on October 21 from 11a.m.-2p.m. Much to my dismay, I wasn’t able to attend due to my demonic four-hour block of classes on Tuesdays. So it goes.
Recently, my interest in study abroad has been sparked by my friend Katie Brown, who is currently in the painstaking process of applying to go to France next semester. When I say the process is painstaking, man do I mean it. Not only for her though, I too have been sharing the emotions. It feels as though I’m going through the whole process with her, in a way: helping fill out applications, emailing advisors, getting passport necessities ready and in order. She has confided to me on numerous occasions of her fear of leaving the United States, parting with the friends she’s made, and having to adapt to a whole new culture. And because of her apprehension, Katie has taken a little longer with the application process than recommended. I really do empathize with her; I’m not sure if I would be able to handle all of the pressure, fill out the forms on time, and part ways with my life as I know it all on a time limit.
As scary as watching my friend prepare to leave the country is, I couldn’t be more proud of her for taking that chance. She saw an opportunity in reach and she went for it. I know that studying abroad will change her life forever, probably in the best possible ways.
Katie’s foray into study abroad has gotten me really considering it for my future here at WCU. The more I look into it, the more tantalizing it becomes. I’ll probably spend the next few months researching programs and places that are right for me. It’s exciting stuff, I tell ya.
Just because a lot of things at college confuse me, that doesn’t mean I should write them off immediately. Something really interesting could always be behind the curtain, and the study abroad program is the best example of that. Till next time, so it goes.
Rachel Alfiero is a second-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at RA806657@wcupa.edu.