Study abroad program beneficial

By Lauren Kelly

Continuing in the spirit of innovation Columbia is known for, the college offers various departmental study abroad programs to students, providing them with opportunities to travel outside the country and expand their college learning experience.

Under the International Programs office, the college has made an admirable effort in recent years to expand these study abroad programs and should continue to do so. Previous programs have taken place all around the world, including Honduras, Italy, France, Prague, London and South Africa, to name a few.

The departmental study abroad programs give students a well-rounded education and allow them to experience other cultures that challenge their thinking. Exposure to a different culture, especially in a learning environment, shifts a person’s perspective on the world. Columbia is wise to invest time and money into developing these courses to benefit students.

Programs could be further expanded to include courses from all departments and more countries. The college could expand programs to Australia, a continent currently untouched by Columbia’s international programs. Also, more could be done to incorporate partnerships between academic departments, making courses a collaborative effort between different majors.

Columbia should also work to include more semester-long courses in addition to  the only one currently offered in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

Although students earn credit toward their degree for most study abroad courses, some do not. But because of the cost involved for students, all programs offered through the school should be for class credit. Currently, students pay the same cost per semester either studying in Chicago or going abroad, but the course fee for international programs is the cost of the trip. Non-credit earning courses just cost the price of the trip.

Columbia should continue to expand and invest in study abroad courses, but as it does, it must make sure they are handled responsibly. As departmental classes grow, the college needs to ensure they are a structured and safe experience for students. There have not been any major safety issues in the past, but as the programs expand and more students are involved, there is a larger risk of an issue arising.

Students studying abroad are not only ambassadors from Columbia, but from the U.S. It can be tempting for students to take the classes lightly, treating them as a vacation instead of work.

Not every college gives students the opportunity to study overseas and Columbia students should consider going abroad, thereby supporting the Office of International Programs.