Starry-Eyed and Travel-Bugged: Study Abroad Is For Everyone

You don’t have the money.

You don’t speak the language.

You don’t know where to start.

As per usual, the solution to your problems was sitting at the PUB’s help desk, where Cory Anthony, SCC’s international programs manager, and Bjorn Myhre, the director of international recruitment at Green River College, set up a booth overflowing with literature on Tuesday, Nov. 14. The brochures were about spending a quarter in Berlin, Australia, New Zealand, London, Taiwan, Japan and more.

Students who’ve received the Pell Grant can apply for the Gilman Scholarship. It can cover up to $5,000 for studying abroad.

SCC also has its own scholarship for shorter study abroad trips, up to $1,500. This scholarship is only available for students who receive financial aid. Anthony said a third of applicants receive Gilman money.

No study abroad trips require students to have previous experience with the language of the country you’re traveling to, according to Anthony. Many trips do provide a beginning language course students can take. It can be fun, Anthony said, being in a country where you don’t speak the language(s) and you learn a lot about communication.

“You get really good at charades,” he said. “You learn so much so quickly if you try at all.”

Ten percent of American students study abroad, according to Myhre, who works with several colleges in the area, broadening access for study abroad opportunities. He said it makes students more attractive when applying to transfer to a university, when applying to internships and when applying to jobs. Myhre also said students who study abroad are more likely to graduate faster with higher GPA’s.

Study abroad has been at SCC for at least 18 years, according to Anthony.

The number of students that go every year can vary drastically, with usually between 20 and 60 students going, and as many as 20 students during summer quarter. Currently, there are five students in Barcelona. Students “come back very much affected by the experience,” according to Anthony. In many cases, students see how differently people in different countries live compared to them.

It can give students a new appreciation for owning things like Macbooks, and nice new clothes.

“People don’t connect as much here,” Anthony said.

He said that stopping and talking with someone for a long time is rare, especially in Seattle. Anthony added that it could be a struggle to find five minutes to have coffee with a friend.

Anthony also sees students gain confidence after they’ve returned. Traveling increases their desire to go back, and travel more.

“(It) does seem to spark wanderlust,” Anthony said. He also knows one student who studied in Jamaica, and later moved there.

Each trip is related to a course or courses. South Africa was multicultural studies, Japan was photography, art appreciation and Japanese life and culture and Bolivia was Dental Hygiene.

Students on the Bolivia trip worked with a company called Smiles Forever, which trains women to be dentists. They cleaned many children’s teeth for free on their trip.

“Now would be a great time to start looking for next fall,” Anthony said, later adding that it can sometimes take longer to secure aid for the trip. The deadline to apply for a spring trip is in January. He recommends students start planning at least six months if not a year ahead of the trip.

The application is straightforward, Anthony said. Students need one or two letters of recommendation, and they need to write a one page essay on the subject of why they want to study abroad. The applications for all trips are almost identical.

However, not everyone can leave the country for a quarter.

According to Anthony, 70 percent of study abroad students are white and female. Some of the reasons for the discrepancy offered by Anthony were that male students are more likely than their female counterparts to be studying chemistry, which requires the three-class general chemistry series, and because more male students are involved in athletics.

The study abroad program’s neighboring booth was occupied by Michael Lane, the customer service manager at the Seattle Passport Agency, armed with his own heaps of literature. He wanted to ensure that students interested in studying abroad — and others — knew commonly needed information about obtaining passports.

You need to apply in-person to get your first passport, according to Lane. Normally, it takes 4-6 weeks to get it, so plan ahead. You can, however, expedite it for $60 to get it in two weeks.

Though when it expires and you need to renew it, you can do it online.

Some students, Anthony said, think they can’t leave the country for a whole quarter, but he says students return baffled it’s over, because every day is new and exciting, and goes by fast.

“It’s nothing. It’s over in a flash,” he said.

When asked to choose his favorite study abroad trip, Anthony declined. According to him, it was like asking him to choose his favorite child.

Contact SCC’s International Programs Manager for questions about studying abroad: [email protected] or check out shoreline.edu/studyabroad


By NELLIE FERGUSON, Political Editor
Graphics from Vecteezy.com, composition by KRISTEN CLARK

Leave a Reply