Your email isn’t lying to you: How Stanford students study abroad

June 2, 2017, 2:54 a.m.

If you’re like nine out of ten college students in America, to you, the world is flat. It is the list of countries and capitals on the placemat you used when you were six; it is the pages of textbooks you dissected throughout years of high school history classes.

If, however, you are a Stanford student, there is a fifty percent chance you will avert this unfortunate perception before your four years are up — and even those odds are conservative. When it comes to traveling the world, the Bing Overseas Studies Program alone sends over half the student body abroad. What’s more, this number doesn’t account for the opportunities provided by student groups, the Haas Center, internship grants … the list goes on.

One of the most opportune times to pursue this kind of travel is over the summer, when a student can avoid packing 37 units into winter quarter in order to compensate for missing time on campus during the academic year. But where do you look? You could start with your email, but let’s face it — it could take a couple of years to adequately examine the surfeit of clickbait that filters through your inbox. In an informal survey of 28 Stanford undergraduates set to travel this summer, options for going abroad come from every corner of campus and beyond. The following are some of the most popular modes of achieving this great escape:

  1. Student group (14 percent of surveyed students): If you needed yet another reason to get involved on campus, here it is: Your student group can take you around the globe, often footing the expense! Whether it’s “seeing major World Heritage sites” in Thailand, learning about the social and political climate in Ghana or visiting the pyramids of Teotihuacan while on tour for the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, you could reap some amazing rewards from attending one of those White Plaza activities fairs.
  2. The Haas Center (7 percent): Every summer, the Haas Center integrates personal growth and service through its Impact Abroad program. In 2017, one of these two programs will venture to Bolivia (Healthcare and Youth Development), and the other will spend two months in Nicaragua (Social Entrepreneurship). In Bolivia, participants will collaborate with local healthcare personnel to learn about public health outreach and disease prevention efforts in a rural setting. In Nicaragua, the Peace Corps’ mission will guide them toward empowering marginalized individuals.
  3. Bing Overseas Studies (14 percent): In addition to providing a large array of options during the regular school year, Bing offers two summer programs: one in Cape Town, South Africa and the other in Santiago, Chile. While in Cape Town, students will focus on “community-engaged learning,” providing vast opportunities for social outreach. For Emily Zhang ’20, what she looks forward to about the trip is the chance to “engage in difficult dialogue, especially relating to marginalization and social awareness.” Bing also offers several three-week, 12-15 person seminar trips each summer, sending students to Ecuador, London, Italy and six more locations for 2017.
  4. Summer Internship/Job (39 percent): In addition to the highly marketable tools that a Stanford education permits us to accrue, the university makes summer career opportunities even more accessible with a variety of assets such as UAR (Undergraduate Advising and Research) grants. Applying for these funds can give you access to thousands of dollars in stipends, even compensating you for an unpaid internship. As far as finding the internships in the first place, students reported anywhere from an advertisement on campus or speaking with a peer or professor to meeting “the director of the [internship’s] institute at the philosophical reading group at Stanford.” The takeaway: Talk to people and attend events!
  5. Miscellaneous (26 percent): Doing field work for the Stanford Center for International Development; enrolling in Archaeological Field School; freelance travel writing — these are the message headers that we write off as spam as they surge through our email, deciding our time would be better spent doing a p-set or watching “Criminal Minds.” Shockingly, however, they’re real! Whether or not they have manifestations in your ultimate professional life, these experiences don’t just pad your resume. They are a chance to be productive in the real world, fine-tuning your interests and giving you a new (and sometimes free-of-cost) stamp on your passport.


Contact Lauren Taylor with more travel ideas at tay17 ‘at’

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