Students Apply For Study Abroads Across the Globe

Sarah Garrett, Staff Writer

Many students participate in studying abroad as a way for students to immerse themselves in a new culture. After two years of travel being limited due to COVID-19, some students are going on study abroad programs this year to learn about the culture of the language they are learning and immerse themselves in other traditions. 

Through the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and other study abroad programs, students have the opportunity to live with a host family in a foreign country. Sophomore Elizabeth Duarte is going on a study abroad program for four weeks in Berlin, Germany, over the summer. 

“I’ve always wanted to travel, and I’ve never gotten to travel overseas, and also [because I’m] taking German, this is my best opportunity to really get into German,” Duarte said. “I also thought it was a great opportunity, since it seems like a really safe program, and I’ve heard really good things about it.”

Although Duarte is excited about the program, she has to be accepted into the CIEE program first, which involves multiple essays and a teacher recommendation. According to senior Kollin Clarke, though, most of the application process is applying for scholarship money. 

“Applying for the program itself is not that difficult,” Clarke said. “Most of the application process was in applying for scholarships. There’s a merit scholarship that I applied for, and that required you to write three essays.”

German teacher Christopher Parks understands that writing essays or asking for recommendations can be intimidating for some students, but he believes studying abroad is a great way for students to learn about other cultures. Parks encourages German students to apply to the programs. 

“I’ve just really tried to be an advocate for [study abroad programs],” Parks said. “Any year I would, but particularly since we don’t get to go this year as a group, so there are some students who are juniors, and after their senior year, they’re not going to be able to go on the exchange, so I wanted them to have something to experience.”

Along with the application process, managing how to travel safely amid the pandemic has been a challenge. Normally, students in the German language department would have the opportunity to travel as a whole class to Berlin, Germany, instead of students traveling individually.

“The German department goes to Berlin every second year, but because of the pandemic, we’ve delayed it two summers,” Parks said. “Our plan is to go next summer, 2023. And then after we go in the summer, the Germans come visit us that same fall, so fall of 2023. We’re there for three weeks. They’re here for about three weeks. We only do it every other year, so that every class theoretically would get an option to do it during their four years at LASA.”

Clarke’s study abroad plans were also impacted by COVID-19, but he is still committed to learn a language in a foreign country before his time in high school ends. His original plan was to study abroad in Shanghai. 

“Chinese specifically has so many dialectical differences depending on where you are, and it’s so deeply entrenched,” Clarke said. “The culture affects the language so much, and so that’s why I set up the Chinese one.”

However, Clarke learned that the program to China was canceled, so Clarke looked into other programs with a similar focus on culture. Clarke now plans to go to Prague.

“I found the studio arts one and that allows me to study art and have still been in a country where I can learn a new language and experience how the culture interacts,” Clarke said.

Despite travel challenges, sophomore Miguel Lathrop was able to join an abroad program with CIEE for one month in Berlin. Lathrop is also looking forward to experiencing a new culture. 

“It’ll be my first time going out of the country, which is obviously thrilling,” Lathrop said. “I’ve always been interested somewhat in the German language and culture, and it’s just nice to finally have direct exposure to that by going right to the source.”

Lathrop was inspired to apply to a study abroad program because of his teacher, Parks. On the other hand, sophomore Jared Reyes was inspired to apply because of his friend’s interest in CIEE programs. 

“It was basically my friend who talked to me about [the program],” Reyes said. “They were going to apply for a summer abroad program. And then I [thought I] should look into an abroad program. From there, I went on their website, made my account, and I looked into the different programs that were available. I chose the one that I thought would be most interesting.”

Reyes will be doing the advanced Spanish language and culture summer program in Madrid. One of the things he is most looking forward to is exploring the city. 

“In the program, they say they have a lot of activities, like where you bike around, or they show you tours around the city,” Reyes said. “You would also be able to live with a family while you’re staying in Madrid. I thought that would be a cool experience because you get to talk Spanish the entire month, and it’ll be more natural because you’re talking to native speakers.”

Whether students are going to Germany, Spain, or elsewhere, many are interested in traveling to other countries. Studying abroad is a unique way for students to improve their language skills and explore a new city, according to Parks.

It just is a great process of opening your mind to different cultural perspectives beyond those four walls that surround each of us individually or here, as a local central Texan, and the experiences that we have, and how different those can be from the different kinds of perspectives about all kinds of daily topics,” Parks said.