Trying to plan a study abroad in the midst of a global pandemic was no easy task. The class of 2023 was away from Goucher for over a year, and by the time we came back in Fall of 2021, it was already time to plan out when we were going to take off again.
In my case, I needed to find a program or university in the same field as my major or minor that worked around my Fall sports schedule and did not take me away from my position as Editor of The Q. To graduate on time and plan around other academic commitments, such as summer internships, a winter break program made the most sense.
Goucher only offered one 2023 J-term Intensive Course Abroad (ICA), which was Arts, Music, and Culture in Bali, Indonesia. While it sounded like an amazing program, it was not my area of study, and I’m sure airfares to Bali in January are another obstacle.
Several of my friends had gone abroad through Goucher last Fall, and none of them had good reviews about the additional study abroad course students take through the Office of Global Education (OGE) – I heard assignments were unclear and time consuming, taking away from their time abroad.
All these factors pointed me to non-Goucher study abroad organizations that had J-term programs in closer countries and within my field of study. Eventually, I stumbled across the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS), which has great reviews and a vast array of programs.
I ended up choosing their J-term program in Berlin, Germany and taking a course called Interreligious and Intercultural Tensions in Germany at Humboldt University to count towards my minor in Religion and Justice. Long story short, I learned an incredible amount in just three weeks and had a blast!
AIFS has staff in Berlin who help students get acclimated, provide recommendations of places to go and things to see, as well as taking the group on educational excursions (which are included in the program fee). My AIFS group consisted of students from all over the country, and in my class at Humboldt I met students from all over the world – a global experience I would not have gotten through a Goucher ICA.
My advice to all students trying to navigate studying abroad while dealing with the pressure of an ongoing pandemic and OGE building back from the period of remote learning is to not limit yourself. If Goucher doesn’t have the experience you’re looking for, look elsewhere! The world is truly your oyster.
Feature Image: Chatterjee on the roof of the Bundestag (Germany’s Parlaiment building) at night. Above from left to right: a view of Museum Island and the East Berlin TV Tower at night along the Spree River, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at Sunset in Charlottenburg, and views from Tiergarten on a cloudy day.