Study and broaden your horizons

Written by: Susanna Pehrson
To study abroad is a way to open up your mind to other cultures and languages, hardly matched by any other experience. A major side-effect is that most students’ personal growth follows the same path. BCC, as part of Washington State Community College Consortium for Study Abroad (WCCCSA), is offering three programs every year to make that possibility come true. You can go to Florence in spring, London in fall, and Costa Rica during the winter quarter. If you want your stay to be as safe as possible, there is hardly any better way than taking advantage of the experience gained in these programs from years of experience. “I never had anyone come back and tell me they had a terrible time,” said Carol McKee, Study Abroad Coordinator for BCC. There has never been any serious problem during the 20 years BCC has sent students abroad, according to her. WCCCSA provides both students and parents with a security that for the individual can mean the difference of staying in the United States or daring to go abroad and widen his or her horizons. For all three destinations, teachers from Washington state teach credit classes locally and keep in close contact with the students. Each destination also has one culture and language class taught by a local faculty teacher. Before leaving, BCC organizes a full day introduction for both students and their parents. The most common concern, according to McKee, is the safety issue. After the introduction, she said, parents normally feel very relaxed about sending their children abroad for the 10-week-long stay. In addition to meeting the local teacher who is participating in the study abroad program, parents are also encouraged to say in close contact with their child during the program’s length, and to have an agreement on which days to have telephone contact. The story reported in the Seattle Times earlier this year about a UW student participating in a study exchange program in Egypt and not getting enough food by his host family and being told to stay out of touch with his family in order to become engrossed in the local culture could not have happened in any of the programs offered by BCC, said McKee. “If there is a problem, we’re right on it,” said McKee. “The student coordinator at BCC gets weekly reports which tell how the students are doing, who has been ill, exactly what’s been done during the week and reports on how students are doing in the class.” WCCCSA has successfully sent thousands of students abroad over the years, said McKee, but “papers never focus on good stories, only the few bad ones that happen occasionally.” The next opportunity to study abroad will be the class taught in London, during fall quarter 2008. Students will arrive in London on Sept. 20 and stay until Nov. 28. The deadline to apply is June 30, at which time a deposit of $450 is due. The program fee in total is $6,225, not including the airfare between Seattle and London. According to studyabroad.com, federal financial aid can be applied to studying abroad. There are also possibilities to obtain scholarships. For more information, check out http://www.studyabroad.com/marketplace/finaid.html and http://www.studentawards.com. The most popular destination is Florence, according to McKee. In addition to the thrill of experiencing Italy, the bonus of not staying with a host family is probably a big reason. Florence is the only place where students get to stay in apartments on their own. BCC also offers a three-week-long program at Aso College in Fukuoka, Japan, organized by BCC faculty teachers. The program includes 28 hours of Japanese language lessons, the round-trip airfare, 21 nights stay in a host family’s house with two meals per day plus seminars and mini field trips. The deadline to apply to the program in Japan is April 11. The total cost will be $2,760 if it can attract a minimum of 10 students. Otherwise the cost will be $3,090. Keep in mind that the best time to try an experience abroad is during college and if you wait any longer the studies may be harder to fit into your already crammed schedule.

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