Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Back From Abroad: Students Share Their Stories

In the fall semester of 2013, more than half of the available off-campus studies options were being offered to Whitman students for the first time ever. Some of these proved popular, while some attracted only one or two intrepid students to test the waters. In the meantime, Whitman’s older partner programs also continued to attract participants. The Pioneer spoke with two junior who participated in brand-new partner programs in the fall, as well as with a junior who participated in one of Whitman’s longtime U.S. partner programs.

Karen Zhou – Copenhagen, Denmark

The Pioneer: Where did you go, and what was the program like?

P1020618 - Karen Zhou
Contributed by Karen Zhou

Karen Zhou: I was in Copenhagen, Denmark at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad. It’s basically a large program of mostly American students, with approximately 1200 people total. It consists of a bunch of different programs. I was in a program called Child Diversity and Development, [studying] children in a multicultural context. I studied the sociology of education in a Danish context. I wanted to take a sociology class that focused on children, and the program also offered a really cool practicum experience where I got to work at a childcare center in Denmark.

Aside from getting to experience the whole Danish lifestyle, I particularly enjoyed seeing my visiting family, chatting with them [and] having hygge with them. [Hygge] is a word that doesn’t exist in English. It basically means warmth, happiness [or] coziness.

Pio: What is one of your favorite memories from your time abroad?

Contributed by Karen Zhou

KZ: One of my favorite parts [of the program] was visiting Tivoli, an amusement park in the middle of the city right next to the town hall. It was amazing …. It’s actually the park Disneyland was inspired by.

Pio: What is one thing you wish you had known before leaving?

KZ: Before I went I didn’t know how many American students would be there, and how diverse that group would be. It was surprising to me.

Kelly Chadwick – Philadelphia, PA

Pio: Which program did you participate in?

photo 2 - Kelly Chadwick
Contributed by Kelly Chadwick

Kelly Chadwick: I was in the Philadelphia program. [The program] focuses on experiential learning. You have an internship 35 hours a week, and you take classes that are focused on experiential learning too. You get to go on field trips and your homework makes you go out into the city and do activities. For example, for one assignment we had to apply for government assistance without using the internet.

Pio: Why did you choose that program?

KC: I wanted a program that would help me figure out what I could do as a career. I really wanted to try to do an internship and see if I liked it. I also liked that you got to play at being an adult without having to be one. You could sort of go through the process with a really big safety net.

Pio: What was your favorite part or favorite memory from your time abroad?

Mostly my favorite part was my internship and going back to an apartment that was mine and making food for myself. My favorite one moment was hanging out in Philly with my friends from the program the last night we were there and being able to walk around the city at night.

Sam Chapman – SEA Semester

Pio: Where did you go on the program?

SC: [The program has] a shore component in Woods Hole, Mass. and a sea component. [On the sea component] we went from St. Croix to Granada to Dominica to Puerto Rico.

Pio: What did you do?

SC: The Sea Education Association [SEA] does a lot of things: some are more science-oriented, some are about plastics …. Ours was called “Colonization Through Conservation in the Caribbean,” so we focused primarily on change. There was a large history component [and] a lot of writing, and we generally wanted to know everything that made the Caribbean islands and seas so different than they were when Columbus landed.

I loved [the program]. We worked the ship ourselves, we got crash courses in oceanography, navigation, meteorology [and] everything we would need to survive while we were learning about history. The sheer volume of things that went into the experience was exactly my cup of tea.

PioDo you have a favorite memory?

SC: On one of the last stretches of sea, we were heading towards Saint John [Island] and we wanted to dump all our remaining produce that we hadn’t eaten over the side of the ship, [because] when we got within 12 nautical miles of land that wouldn’t be legal anymore. So we had to get rid of all our oranges before we crossed the 12-mile boundary. It’s sunrise, a really early watch, I’ve been up since three in the morning, the captain is there and all the mates are helping, and we’re just hurling oranges into the sunrise. Some oranges are lobbed upward so we can try to hit other oranges …. It was a gleefully chaotic sort of scene that encapsulated [the experience] pretty well.

Pio: Since you’re the first Whitman student to do the SEA Semester, do you have any advice for future participants?

SC: I would tell them that life aboard a ship is not really like anything that you can find on land. Temper your problems with authority and beware of seasickness.

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