Study abroad application looms for Class of 2022

Study abroad applications for next academic year are due Feb. 20 for members of the Class of 2022 hoping to join the nearly 70% of Mules who leave the country in their time at the College.

Colby students typically go abroad in the fall or spring semester of their junior year, but many opt to do so at other points in their Colby career. To be eligible to go abroad, students must have a minimum GPA of 2.7, be a junior, and have completed three semesters of a foreign language. 

Before choosing when and where to go, students must complete an application process. They are also required to attend an off-campus study information session in September. 

During this session, Eva McVicar, Assistant Director of Off-Campus Study, and her colleagues go over the many steps in the application process. 

Come November, students are required to submit a statement of intent indicating where, what semester(s), and why they would like to study abroad. 

The application due Feb. 20 completes the Off-Campus Study process, requiring students to select which program they want to go on. The students are also tasked with choosing the courses they will take abroad, getting approval from their advisor(s), and explaining why they chose their program and how they will prepare to go abroad. 

The last step for students is to apply directly to their program. Billy Maines ’22, who is currently completing  the study abroad application process, describes it in an interview with the Echo as “frustrating and confusing.” 

Maines elaborated that, beyond the single information session in September, there was little information given to students about the specifics of the application process. 

Along with the confusion surrounding the process, Maines stated that he and fellow students were “not notified of whether we had been approved for the spring semester until two weeks before [the February] applications were due.” 

McVicar told the Echo that Colby offers more than 160 different study abroad programs which offer a wide range of travel, academic, and even internship opportunities. Jodie Cen `20 spoke with the Echo of her time abroad as being an “exciting and tremendous experience.” 

Cen’s study abroad program, SIT-IHP: Health and Community, allowed her to study in three different countries. The program went from Washington, D.C. to Vietnam, South Africa, and Argentina. 

Unlike a traditional study abroad program which offers classes ranging in subject matter, SIT programs are rooted in an experiential learning model. Instead of learning about global politics in a classroom, Cen visited different areas of the world and worked side by side with people actively working in that area of study. 

The students on Cen’s SIT program looked at different factors impacting human health in different contexts. They were able to “visit many different health sectors, NGOs and were able to interview many different people” in order to take a closer look at contrasting health strategies in dramatically different areas of the world. 

In all three of the countries Cen travelled to, she stayed with host families instead of staying in an apartment or in a dorm, which allowed her to gain a deeper understanding of the local community. 

Overall, Cen credits her study abroad experience as having taught her “how to interpret things from different lenses, practice empathy, [be] open-minded and appreciate cultures and lifestyles that are different from what I am used to.”

Studying abroad has been a transformational time for many students. But when it comes to choosing a program, deciding when to go, and getting all the appropriate application materials in order, it can be overwhelming and complicated at times. 

McVicar offered advice to students currently applying. “I personally think that it is good for students to meet for advice because planning where to study abroad is a big decision. The decision can be overwhelming and the time frame for advising is very short,” she said.

If you have any questions about studying abroad, the Off-Campus Study office is located on the first floor of Eustis.