Students seek exotic locales for studying abroad

By By Jane Stringham

By Jane Stringham

For Jared Farrar, studying abroad in Africa was an opportunity to “supplement (his) education in a way which is not possible (at the U).”

“It is a way of examining a culture significantly different from mine,” said the freshman in international studies. “There is the very real prospect of students bringing home what they’ve learned in Africa and examining their own culture with new eyes and beginning to question the practices of their society in a new, objective way.”

Farrar is among the growing group of college students displaying an interest in studying abroad in less traditional locations.

“There is a particular trend toward more exotic locales, especially when it comes to summer study abroad options,” said John Duncan, an adviser at www.studyabroad.com.

The Web site recently quoted a significant increase in the number of students who searched the site for programs last semester in places like Israel (by 30 percent), Ghana (by 40 percent) and Malaysia (by 80 percent).

The school of medicine and the department of family and preventative medicine at the U take a small number of students in health-related majors to Ghana each summer.

The hands-on project, which has been in place for several years, focuses on improving community health development and has been approved as a service-learning class.

These aspects of the Ghana program appeal to many students who desire a less conventional study abroad program, said Jesse Pugh, a U International Center study abroad adviser.

“There has been a surge toward studying abroad in more non-traditional locations where the emphasis is on service and learning,” he said.

Other factors contributing to this recent trend include the existence of more varied, hands-on programs (like anthropology, biology and sustainable development) and a desire to become more immersed in a culture other than a Western one.

“Cost of living is always an issue, as well,” Pugh said. “It is usually less expensive to live in Ecuador than England, for example.”

And Duncan said the educational programs are also generally cheaper.

But whether it’s studying art in Europe or training for medicine in Ghana, scholarships and financial aid are always available to students through the U’s International Center.