"The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page." - Saint Augustine
The words of Saint Augustine speak volumes for the more than 200 undergraduate students, annually, who immerse themselves in Jan Term travel and study abroad through Saint Mary’s College.
More than half of all SMC undergraduates have had a study abroad experience (Jan Term travel courses are the primary reason), which places the College seventh in the nation in study abroad opportunities among institutions awarding master’s degrees, according to a study by the International Education Exchange.
Jan Term courses are faculty led, which means students travel in a group with a professor. “They have a quote unquote protector with them,” says Susie Miller Reid, Director of SMC’s Center for International Programs. That’s true in Rome, the most popular destination for Saint Mary’s students, as well as lesser-known regions like Tonga and Rwanda. “They gain a lot of independence and they gain a lot of courage. They gain confidence and overcome obstacles and they come back much more solid and confident adults.”
Communication major Virginia Gilchrist ’12 recalls her time in France as a total immersion in a new culture. “The education I got on a daily basis from just walking to school, buying groceries at the markets, and interacting with French people was more than I could ever learn in years of sitting in a classroom.”
Jan Term allows students to take courses they wouldn’t normally take in their curriculum. The theme of the 2011 Jan Term was “New Histories: Reliving, Rethinking, Remaking,” which invited students to reflection, critical analysis — and action.
Miller Reid calls Saint Mary’s study abroad program “mind opening.”
“Our world is getting smaller and this particular generation is most likely going to be working with global partners,” she says. “If they’ve had the experience of already living abroad — studying abroad — it’s life-changing.”