For students considering studying abroad, participation in a summer abroad program is a way to avoid falling behind in studies or missing out on employment, while still being able to experience a foreign country.
The UC Davis Education Abroad Center sends students all over the world, but the summer abroad programs are particularly popular. Last year, 800 students went to another country during the summer versus 200 for a quarter.
Since summer programs only last four weeks, they tend to be faster paced and more rigorous, said Eric Schroeder, the summer abroad director.
“The summer abroad program is a way for students to have a very intense abroad experience in a very short period of time,” he said.
This program is convenient for students with busy schedules, who cannot take time out of the school year to go abroad. This was the case for Milton Carl Jackson III, a senior music major who participated in the “Music and Culture in Latin America” program in Argentina last summer.
“Last year, I was a Resident Advisor and was not in a position to leave in the spring,” said Jackson in an e-mail interview. “I’m also a fourth-year this year and I’m finishing up my major and have to be on campus to do so. This left the summer as the perfect opportunity to study abroad.”
Students can choose from programs on every continent except Antarctica, and each location has specific programs designed for it.
“We try to pair the content of the course with the location the students are going to,” Schroeder said.
For instance, there is an “Introduction to Winemaking” program that takes place in France, a program called “Engineering of Historic Constructions” in Rome and another called “Latin American Icons in Film, Literature and Popular Culture” in Argentina.
UC Davis alumna Amy Hartstein had high praise for the course curriculum of the program she participated in, “Community and Everyday Life in Japan.”
“It was a more interesting and engaging course than I have ever taken on campus,” Hartstein said in an e-mail interview. “Professor Fujimoto created a program that combines in-class study with class trips and individual field work that allows students to study what most interests them.”
Some of the programs offered are not tied to one country or location. The “Grand Tour” program takes students to France, England and Italy to learn about literature, culture and art. Another program, called “Sustainable Cities of Northern Europe,” takes students to Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France and Switzerland.
The programs offered for summer abroad cover a wide variety of topics and disciplines, but the Education Abroad Center takes particular pride in the expansion of the science and engineering programs.
“Everybody has programs in the arts, but not everyone has programs in science and engineering,” Schroeder said.
Most students have found their time abroad to be valuable and enlightening.
“About 98 percent of feedback is extremely positive. Many students use phrases like ‘life-changing’,” Schroeder said.
UC Davis alumna Julie Westberg, who studied abroad in South Africa in the summer of 2006, said the experience gave her a new perspective.
“Definitely going to South Africa, you realize how lucky you are to have a roof over your head and food on the table,” she said.
Westberg also said her time abroad gave her an important life experience.
“I was 19 at the time, and it was my first time traveling on my own. I think it helped me grow up a little bit, mature to some extent [and] realize what was out there,” she said.
Jackson also feels gaining perspective was an important aspect of his experience in Argentina.
“I learned so much about the Argentine culture and the music they enjoy,” he said. “It gave me a global perspective on popular music, allowed me to meet incredible people and guided me to work at the Education Abroad Center.”
Going abroad also provides students a unique chance to meet new people.
“My favorite part of the program was getting to know the Ryukoku student volunteers who acted as our tour guides and translators, and quickly became our friends,” said Hartstein. “Those friendships last to this day, and we always meet when they visit the U.S. or when one of us goes to Japan.”
Cost is also an important consideration for students who want to go abroad. The total cost of the program incorporates fees for the program itself, the course, the UC Davis summer campus and an accommodation fee. They vary depending on the location of the program.
Students on a budget can find a list of programs with a total cost of less than $5,000 on the summer abroad web site. These low-cost programs include locations in Japan, China and Argentina, as well as a number of European countries.
Schroeder advises students interested in summer abroad to apply early.
“If the program is popular, students should prepare their application early and turn it in as soon as possible,” he said.
Hartstein encourages other students to take advantage of the school’s study abroad resources.
“I believe that the UC Davis study abroad programs are the most valuable programs offered at this school,” she said. “So, go to the Education Abroad Center and check out your options.”
ELIANA SMITH can be reached at email@example.com.