January terms make it easier for students to study abroad

April 21, 2014 4:43 AMComments Off

Story by Bailey Berg

For many Drake University students, a semester-long study abroad program is not an option.

Whether it is because they participate in athletics, hold leadership positions, cannot find a university that offers their required courses or because they simply cannot afford a multiple-month sojourn abroad, there are numerous things that keep them in the country during the fall and spring semesters.

Now, thanks to new J-term classes, students who otherwise would not have been able to venture abroad are granted a different opportunity.

“I didn’t have the room in my schedule or my budget to take an entire semester to study abroad,” said public relations and sociology double major Laura Plumb. “This was the perfect opportunity to travel and explore outside of the regular semester.”

Plumb traveled to Chile this J-term and Poland during the inaugural year. She plans to complete another J-term abroad next year.

Senior biology and psychology double major Katie Elder said she wishes the travel seminars had been offered earlier during her tenure at Drake.

“For my majors, it can be really difficult to take major-specific classes away from Drake, let alone in a different county,” Elder said. “However, J-term let me study abroad and take a class that was completely outside my major without it negatively affecting my ability to graduate on time.”

Because of this new academic freedom, Elder was able to travel to India.

“I would like to be able to go back to India in the future and spend a much longer time there,” Elder said. “I think a J-term was a great introduction to India. I was able to get acquainted with the culture and learn that I do love India before I commit to going back there for a longer period of time.”

Senior public relations and advertising double major Maria Opatz said her trip to Poland gave her a serious travel bug. Because she held several year-long executive positions in various organizations, she was never able to journey abroad for a full semester.

“I would have enjoyed the experience of traveling with new people, outside of my Drake friends, and learning from professors at a different university,” Opatz said. “The trip definitely made me wish I’d gone abroad for a whole semester.”

Law, politics and society and English double major Mikhala Stutzman has done a whole semester in Madrid, Spain, a May-term in Egypt and most recently a J-term in India, though she thinks the J-term was the perfect amount of time.

“It was a wonderful way to travel in college without committing to a whole semester,” Stutzman said.

Apart from seeing the sights and mingling with the locals, Plumb cited another good reason to partake in a J-term abroad.

“You get to escape the Midwest in the middle of the winter,” Plumb said.

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