Study abroad, travel opportunities ramping back up

Students throughout the university are flocking back to international travel opportunities now that COVID restrictions are easing a bit around the world. Those interested in studying abroad next fall or for the 2023-2024 academic year are prepping applications for a March 1 deadline, while deadlines are fast approaching for summer study abroad and other travel programs.

  “We are thrilled that study abroad opportunities around the world are once again available to our students, and that the number of Arts and Sciences students studying abroad has rebounded to near what it was before the pandemic,” said Peggy Parmenter, study abroad advisor in the College of Arts & Sciences (A&S).

“Studying abroad is such a transformative experience for our students—in so many ways.  Some are travelling outside of the U.S. for the first time; some are becoming fluent in another language; some are taking advantage of unique academic opportunities not available to them here in Ithaca.  But there’s one common thread:  all are experiencing tremendous personal and intellectual growth.”

Study abroad offerings for students in A&S are diverse, from Spain to Japan to Ghana. Study abroad offices throughout campus are offering a Study Abroad fair from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Memorial Room of Willard Straight Hall.

A French refresh

woman in golden room
Provided Ingabire visited the Opera Garnier in Paris.

Marie Joyeuse Ingabire ‘23 spent the spring semester of 2022 studying in Paris, France. Born in the Congo, Ingabire is a native French speaker, but she noticed her French fading a bit since she moved to the U.S. nine years ago, so she decided a semester in Paris would help her refresh her skills.

Along with taking four classes during the week, Ingabire spent the weekends visiting family and friends who live in other cities in France, as well as traveling to the United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Ingabire studied abroad on the EDUCO program, a consortium that includes Cornell, Duke, Emory and Tulane universities. “We learned about French culture, but also had a ton of activities going on,” said Ingabire, who is majoring in psychology on the premed track. “We made trips to other cities, to visit museums, the opera, shows, wine tastings.”

woman at golden gates
Provided Ingabire at the Palace of Versailles.

One of her most memorable trips was to Versailles.

“It has always been on my bucket list,” she said. “The place has such historical significance, and it all came together when I was inside.”

Students could choose to live with a host family or in a dormitory, as Ingabire did, with students from around the world, as well as French students. “It was a great chance to meet people from all over,” she said.

Like a second home

Ben Caplan ’23, a Spanish major, spent last spring in Sevilla, Spain.

a group of people on an overlook outside a city
Provided Caplan, second from right, and friends on a hilltop overlook of the city of Granada.

“Originally, I had hoped to improve my Spanish skills and experience life outside of my little bubbles of community in the United States, but Sevilla ended up being so much more than that for me,” Caplan said. “Not only did I meet some of my best friends while abroad, but the beautiful city that hosted me became like a second home.”

man at rally of lots of people
Provided Caplan at a pre-game rally for the Sevilla soccer club Real Betis Balompié.

The trip wasn’t without its challenges, however. After 10 hours of travel, Caplan arrived in Sevilla without one of his suitcases. It also took some time to get used to a new time zone, language and culture, including ways of dressing, greeting and eating.

“I found that it’s much easier to connect with the place you’re in if you communicate with its people, learn about what they value, and use that to carve out your own space there,” he said. “Without talking to the locals, I would have never gotten to be a fan of one of Sevilla’s soccer teams (Real Betis Balompié), would not have known the best places for tapas and kebabs and would have missed out on all the special details that made my stay truly incredible.”

He said the improvement in his Spanish skills was measurable. “I feel more confident than ever in my Spanish-language skills, and I hope to keep using and developing them throughout my life.”

Experiencing the world

For students who aren’t able to spend an entire semester or year abroad, Cornell offers several winter and summer study abroad opportunities.  Arts and Sciences-sponsored programs like the Ruth Bierman Linnick '60 Memorial Travel Fund can help fund other international experiences in the summer months. The Linnick fund provides funding to female undergraduates with financial needs who wish to travel for pleasure, adventure and exploration over the summer break. Those applications are due March 25.

Recipients of the Linnick Grant say their trips helped them develop a broader global mindset.

“Travel breeds independence and adventure simply by being in a country that speaks a different language or has food you aren't used to,” said Jamaya Scott ’25, an English major, who used the grant to help fund a week in Rome, Italy immersing herself in Italian culture. “I am less wary of traveling without my parents now that I've had to navigate life in a different country for nearly a week.”

woman in front of house
Provided Scott enjoyed finding beautiful hidden spots like this one in Rome.

Scott’s Italy adventure was her first time out of the country, but now she says she plans to travel every year.

“There is so much more life to live and see and food to try; it is so important that students go beyond the walls of Cornell or their hometown if they can,” she said.

Melanie Lantigua ‘25 also received a Linnick grant last summer and traveled to Santiago in the Dominican Republic for almost two weeks.

woman sitting in All terrain vehicle
Provided Lantigua's Santiago trip including a ride on a ATV. "This was so much fun I was covered in mud at the end!"

“The most impactful part of my trip was seeing how different it was from New York City,” said Lantigua, who is majoring in biology and society. “The last time I traveled I was about seven years old and I barely remember it.

“The island was so beautiful. There was so much natural landscape that I was always in awe of. Also, I am Dominican so getting to visit the island for the first time was amazing as I was able to learn about my own culture.”

Although she said she was nervous to fly alone, Lantigua said the trip made her more confident and taught her how to plan for travel.

“The world is such a big place and it is important to explore it, especially while you are young and have the time.”

Paloma Galdo ’24 used her Linnick grant to travel to Spain, France, Italy and Greece for three weeks.

two women smiling in front of fountain
Provided Galdo and her mother passed by the Trevi Fountain before going to the Colosseum. "It's so crazy how it is just in an intersection of streets filled with restaurants."

“The most impactful thing about this trip was having my mom there with me,” Galdo said. “She grew up in a small town in Mexico until she decided to come to the U.S. However, most of her siblings are still back in her hometown and many of them have never even been on a plane. It was really amazing to see her enjoy her time there and see things she had only seen on TV or read about in a book.”

Their time in Rome was particularly meaningful, Galdo said."It reminded me of my Latin teacher in high school, who has since passed. He really was such a big reason I applied and opened my eyes to how much the world has to offer.”

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