Where in the World: Off campus for Jan Plan ’17

by Caitlin Rogers

While many Colby students stay on campus for Jan Plan, some take the opportunity to go on one of several international trips Colby offers. Others took classes abroad, and some secured month-long internships off-campus. This year, Colby offered many international classes, including ones in France, India, Uganda, and Russia.

Freshly back from their travels, three students share what they did during their adventures abroad.

Alison Levitt ’19

Taipei, Taiwan

“Walker Foehl and I spent January in Taipei, Taiwan taking a Chinese class and immersing ourselves in the culture. It was an incredible experience— we really were able to get a feel for the city. As a city, Taipei is such a unique place: it is immaculately clean, the people value organization which made everything easy to navigate, and in general it is so accessible.

The subway system takes you all over the city, but we were also able to take advantage of all the beautiful scenery and hikes that were just in the perimeter. The food was also beyond good, and in general food is a huge part of Taiwanese culture so it was great to be so involved in it.

Our first weekend we did a cooking class for traditional Taiwanese food. We made gung bao chicken, steamed eggplant with sesame sauce, and hot and sour soup. The teacher conducted the class in Chinese which was really cool to see how much our language had improved in just a week, and the food we made was unreal. Doing the cooking class showed us how accommodating everyone was and also gave us such good recipes to make whenever we miss Taiwan!”

Molly Manuel ’19

Kalimpong, India

“There were 15 of us who went to Kalimpong. We stayed on a farm and it had goats, tons of different herbs and vegetables that were always used for our food that was prepared for us every single day at the farm. 

We learned about waste management in Kalimpong, which doesn’t exist. We worked with the village kids on a waste management project, and we did a homestay in the village to immerse ourselves in the Indian culture. We also read books about the environment and about the people in Kalimpong. At the end of the trip we got to see the Taj Mahal in Agra and some of the forts there. That was really cool  because it’s one of the seven wonders of the world  and being able to be in a place like that was really amazing.

I think my favorite part of the trip was being able to be in an area that had a lot of different influences. We were on the border of Nepal and Bhutan, which made for a really unique dynamic in the town. Also there were many Tibetan refugees, so being able to go watch a Tibetan opera was really cool. Seeing that and seeing them trying to continue their culture so it doesn’t go away was really awesome. ”

Merrill Read ’19

Paris, France

“Paris was amazing first off. It was always a place I wanted to visit but had never found the time to, so being able to go for a month was great considering I knew I wouldn’t be able to do a semester there. My professor, Marina Davies, was the best French teacher I’ve ever had. Living there also allowed me to really use what I was learning. It was the best when you came across a Parisian who didn’t know English and we were forced to speak French. Everyone in our group became super close even though we were all from very different groups on campus.

My most memorable moment—or night rather—was when a few of us went to dinner the first Wednesday we were there and walked around after down random streets just exploring the city, when we accidentally came across the Louvre. It was midnight and not a single person was there except for a cellist who was playing classical compositions and it felt like our own concert. We all had tears in our eyes and could see the art inside from the courtyard. That’s when I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time. It was sparkling because it had just turned midnight— it sparkles every hour on the hour. Such an amazing time.

I was sad to leave my friends and skiing and all the perks of being on campus for Jan Plan but Paris was such an eye opening experience for me. It is the perfect amount of time that you really get to know the area around you and you miss Colby enough so that when you come back everything feels new again. If you do go abroad, I highly suggest going without a friend so you can truly make new ones. If you want to go abroad and see the world, Jan Plan is really the time to do it.”

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