Sometimes you hate the idea of leaving home. Sometimes your schedule is hectic, making it hard to plan ahead. Sometimes your bank account is so low that you root through your closet in search of a piggy bank that you filled with quarters when you were 7.
There are a lot of things that might prevent you from spending a semester abroad. For me, it was a combination of the three: I’m easily homesick, I’m always busy, and — like most college students — my budget is tight.
Luckily, Arcadia offers several options for someone who loves to travel, but is unable or unwilling to commit to the full semester experience. The Global Field Study (GFS) programs, for example, consist of a semester’s worth of classes on campus, a 1- to 2-week excursion, and enough adventure to fill your study-abroad void.
This semester, I participated in a class focused on the history, economics, and politics of Dominica, a small island in the Caribbean. My classmates and I leave on Jan. 2 for “The Nature Island,” where we’ll hike, snorkel, swim, and enjoy a new culture.
The Dominica course will not only fulfill my desire to travel, but my Global Connections Experience and Global Connections Reflection as well. The purpose of the GCE/GCR requirement is to push students out of their comfort zones and into unfamiliar communities, in the hopes that they will both learn and teach. These credits are unique to Arcadia, and can be completed at home, in another state, or abroad.
Classes that satisfy the GCE/GCR requirement always have an element of community service. A portion of our trip will be dedicated to rebuilding Dominica, which was severely impacted by Tropical Storm Erika this summer. Painting a school and tackling a beach clean-up are on the agenda, but the true goal is to immerse ourselves in the Dominican community as much as possible.
Though the trip technically hasn’t begun, we’ve already started to grow as a group. We met over the weekend to pack thousands of holiday dinners for underprivileged members of the Cardinal O’Hara High School community, giving us our first taste of working together in a foreign space. Friendships were formed, lessons were learned, and a difference was made — that’s what GFS courses are all about.
If you think a GFS course might be for you, here’s the great news: the average $2,000-$3,000 cost covers airfare, activities, hotel accommodations, in-country transportation, and most meals. The places you can visit range from Poland to South Africa, France to Chile. And the trips work with your schedule; as long as you’re a junior or senior, you can easily travel during winter, spring or summer break.
Oh, and you just might be able to avoid the winter weather for a week or two by escaping to the Caribbean.