Studying Abroad Shouldn't Be This Stressful

Alright Boston College Office of International Programs, it’s time for one of you to ‘fess up: Whose grand idea was it to have the early deadline application for study abroad due smack dab in the middle of finals week? Are you trying to shatter my world?

Forgive me for being slightly melodramatic, but the state of my mind is not completely sound. This year, on top of a hefty finals load, I (and I suspect a considerable number of other BC sophomore souls) have been furiously researching the plausibility of my four month survival in a foreign country.

Currently, my Google history reads: Will I need to take major-subject courses at the University of Amsterdam? Do I have flexibility for electives at the University of Parma? Do I want my housing to be accommodated by homestay in Paris? Do I want to go to South Africa?!

In a fragile state and with the early deadline fast approaching, I am on the verge of applying to Barcelona and writing about attractive Spanish hunks and sandy beaches in response to the essay question. How’s that for “two current issues in your program country/region that are of interest to you”?

With over 50% of BC undergraduate students having had participated in study abroad in the 2014-2015 academic school year according to U.S. News and World Report, study abroad is definitely a consideration to be made for students looking for the “full BC experience.” Why then, do we receive so little assistance and support in undergoing this critical process that is very prevalent to a substantial population of BC undergraduates?

Trying to get a head start on the application process by attending the study abroad fair generously put on by the OIP earlier this semester, I arrived 30 minutes in only to learn that all of the pamphlets had been snatched up within the first five minutes. The volunteers and representatives at the booths were very friendly, but the whole process was a very general overview on the topic of study abroad. It was exciting to hear about the many countries and programs that were available, but it certainly didn’t help narrow down the options there were to explore.

The OIP does extend another hand, though. It is a requirement for every student who is considering study abroad to meet with an Advising Assistant at the beginning of the application process. However, my own meeting lasted only seven minutes—exactly five minutes shorter than the time it took me to make the trek to the Hovey House from Lower. Granted, these Advising Assistants usually have roughly one-thousand applicants to meet with each year, so I understand that they might not want to get up close and personal with each and every one of us. However, I am a student who needs physical, human guidance in her endeavors; I don’t need to be taught how to navigate a website.

December 15th is amongst the earliest study abroad deadlines alongside those of hundreds of other universities across the country. With this, BC students are not being given adequate time or sufficient resources to thoughtfully consider and discuss such a major decision of our college career. While February offers a second deadline for study abroad, the availability of programs is automatically limited in many countries like Italy, and in cases like the Netherlands, the second deadline sees no programs offered at all.

Harrowing through the application process on my own, I have found upperclassmen and individual research to be the best means of gaining useful and important information. But, if only someone could advise or at least educate me on, quite literally, THE WORLD, I and BC sophomores alike might find that we may enjoy both the journey and the destination of the study abroad process and experience.

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Crystal Chon