Monday, October 3, 2016

A Year in the Life of a Study Abroad Applicant, Part II: Looking at all my options!

Hi Everybody! Emily again! I'm back with another installment of the saga that many of us sophomores are going through right now - deciding where we'll study abroad next year! 

Now that school is really underway, and I’ve managed to finish up my mid-terms (HOW IS IT ALREADY MID-TERMS?!), I can focus on my study abroad program search. Thankfully, the OSA website is filled with a lot of information. I may or may not have spent some time drooling over the programs I could participate in on Tulane’s website instead of studying for my mid-terms…

The Great Mosque of Córdoba, also known as the Mezquita - 
I could definitely take a weekend trip to see this if I decide to study abroad in Madrid!

When I was perusing the study abroad website, the first thing I noticed was the abundance of programs that Tulane offers. Tulane has an “approved” list of study abroad programs, which means that if you study on one of these programs, you pay Tulane tuition using the same financial aid package – including scholarships and grants – (except for housing) and get Tulane elective credit for the work done abroad. There are basically two ways to go: direct enrollment or on a study abroad program provider. Here’s some information about the two:

Direct Enrollment: On a direct enrollment program, we go as international students to a university abroad, and take all of our courses right alongside local students. Some of these programs are available in English – like in Australia, England or Singapore – or in the local language – in Spain, Argentina, France, Morocco, Senegal, China – as long as Tulane offers the language, OSA has a program in that language

Study Abroad Program Provider: Program providers, like CIEE or IES, have a study center abroad, usually housed at a local university, where they offer student services – help with housing, culture shock, etc. – and also bring in host country professors to teach courses. Then, they will help students take some courses at the local university, too, as long as their language skills are up to snuff.

(You can read more about the program models, and other policies, on the OSA website.)
The PUCP campus in Lima, Peru. This program takes place at
Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and is run by a study abroad program provider, IFSA-Butler. 

When I started looking at the list of programs, my first “order of business” was to try and find programs that I’m eligible for. All programs require a 3.0 cumulative GPA, but there are more specific requirements (like prerequisite courses or language classes). I’m in Spanish 3040 now (Grammar and Composition) which means that, even though I’ve only taken 3 semesters of Spanish since I got to Tulane, this is technically my fifth semester. (Spanish 1010 is the first, and since I tested into 2030, Spanish 1010 and 1020 count as two of my five semesters.) This is important to know, since many of the study abroad programs in the Spanish-speaking world require five or six semesters! I will probably take Spanish next semester, too, since most of the programs recommend that you take the language the semester before you study abroad. I think it’s so that our skills are really sharp right before we go.

Once I figured all of that out, I was ready to see which programs are taught in Spanish since one of my main goals for study abroad is to become fluent. The OSA website has an advanced search feature that really helps narrow it down! Right now, there are sixteen different programs on the approved list that are taught in Spanish. Some of them are in Spain, and the rest are in Central and South America. Just by reading the program brochures on OSA’s website, I couldn’t decide which would be best for me. But at the top and bottom of each of the brochures is a link to the host university or program provider, so as soon as I get the time, I’m going to go onto those sites to get even more info.
Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world, forms part of the boundary between Argentina and Brazil! CIEE takes their program participants on a trip to the falls every semester. 
One thing I’ve realized, though, since I’ve been working here at OSA, is that there are two study abroad advisors that can help you whether you have no idea where to start or, like me, you’ve done a little bit of research. So, I think the next thing I’m going to do is make an appointment with an advisor so I can make sure I’m looking at all of the right websites and asking the right questions…

Check back next week to see how it went!