posted 2011-03-09 13:00:32

Itching to Travel this Summer?

Itching to Travel this Summer?

Hunter study abroad programs to suit every taste

Scott Klocksin

Staff Writer

This summer, Hunter’s Education Abroad Office will offer eight programs spanning the globe. The programs, which will take place in Europe, Central Asia and East Africa, feature courses in a variety of disciplines, including various foreign languages and contemporary drama.

The programs are open not only to Hunter students, but also to those from other institutions. Students must have at least a 2.5 GPA to participate.

Many of this year’s programs have been ongoing for multiple years. But there are some new additions to the summer roster, including a program in London, which had previously been offered in the winter, as well as a new program in Uganda. Additionally, a program on the history of the Silk Road, which was originally set to take place in Uzbekistan, was moved to nearby Kazakhstan because of a warning from the U.S. State Department.

Elizabeth Sachs, the director of Hunter’s Education Abroad Office, said it is a matter of policy that when such warnings are issued, study abroad programs are canceled or moved out of the country the warning applies to. “Of course, things happen that can’t be predicted, like [the recent revolution in] Egypt,” Sachs said. “This is why, for all students and faculty going on our programs we purchase an insurance policy that provides emergency evacuation. So far, I’ve never needed to use it,” she added.

A Jan. 14 Chicago Tribune article points out that the last several years have seen a marked increase in the number of study abroad programs offered by American universities in “nontraditional” locales. The uptick has been greatest, according to the Tribune, for programs in Peru, South Korea and Chile.

In keeping with the larger trend, Hunter’s program this summer in Uganda will offer students an experience far removed from the postcard images of major European cities. The month-long program, called “Literacy in an African Country,” will take students to several parts of Uganda, including the Capital, Kampala, and also on a group excursion to Queen Elizabeth National Park. According to Kate Parry, the Coordinator of the program, participating students will hear lectures by Ugandan academics and time will be allotted for researching and writing papers on what they learn.

Despite some expansion to the south and east, five of the eight summer programs offered by Hunter this year will take place in the more conventional confines of Western Europe. Richard Kaye, a Professor of English at Hunter, said that like many programs in Europe, the “Contemporary British Drama” program he presides over in London gives students weekends free if they want to take advantage of the relatively close proximity of Continental Europe for a few days during the program.

But Eckhard Kuhn-Osius of Hunter’s German Department, who leads a 6-credit program in German language in Kassel, Germany, said “serious traveling should take place after the end of the program,” since that program includes mandatory weekend trips to various cultural institutions in and around Kassel.

The language barrier, often the subject of much trepidation among students preparing to study abroad, has served for some as a catalyst more than an impediment to traveling outside the English-speaking world.            Andrew Lynch, a 2010 Hunter Graduate, attended the Kassel program in 2009, and was satisfied with his improvement in speaking German. “Before taking the program I wouldn't even try to open
my mouth for fear of saying something wrong,” Lynch said.

“After the program, I was
much more confident and would go out of my way to speak. One month
isn't enough time to learn many words but it gives you a good
base.”

Paying for study abroad programs can be another source of headaches for students and their parents. “Financial aid is the biggest problem in studying abroad because there is by far not enough of it,” Sachs said.

According to Sachs, several funding options are available. These include Study/Travel Opportunities for CUNY Students (STOCS) grants and the Benjamin A. Gillman scholarship. A limited number of STOCS grants are awarded every session to CUNY institutions that offer study abroad programs. Further, according to Hunter’s official website, only two Hunter students were awarded Gillman scholarships to study abroad this past winter session.

When asked whether he would recommend the program in which he took part, Andrew Lynch replied bluntly: “I totally would.” He added, “everybody should travel and see how
other places work and meet different people with different ideas.”

The deadline to apply for Hunter study abroad programs is March 25. For more information on what Hunter has to offer, visit the Education Abroad Office on the 14th floor of Hunter East or log on to http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/educationabroad.