Pizza’s Kitchen: Quit Bothering Me About Study Abroad

By Emily Pizza

As a sophomore, you are expected to write tons of essays, chew at your fingernails, and pray you get into a study abroad program. They have seminars set up for learning how to apply, dealing with rejection from a program, and even help you find another that still fits your interests.

We all know the statistic that 87.9 percent (261 out of 297) of Kalamazoo graduates in 2011 had studied abroad during their K experience, but what about the other 12.1 percent?

Well, they are shoved under the rug and forgotten. There are no programs for students who decide not to study abroad, or groups to deal with losing all of your friends for six months. The Center for International Programs (CIP) even pushes us to choose by stating on their website that “If you think study abroad isn’t for you, think again!”

There is a sense of shame that comes from choosing not to study abroad, whether that be for personal reasons or financial. No one talks about what happens to those who choose not to study abroad, and always assume they were too scared to experience a different culture, or too lazy to apply for scholarships.

             Some students simply do not want to study abroad. Some students need to complete graduation requirements and others want to, or need to, stay close to home. Their webmail boxes are filled with e-mails reminding them that they are missing out on the best experience of their lives by not applying. The shame being thrown at these students is why no one on campus talks about not studying abroad.

Not only that, but some people cannot afford to leave the country. In case you haven’t noticed already, studying at K is expensive, and studying in a foreign country is even more so. According to the CIP webpage, they claim that it costs the same to study abroad as it does to stay on campus. However, they do not take into account that it is difficult for students to work enough abroad (as quite a few K students do) to  purchase goods, which are more expensive in certain countries.

Also, not all programs accept Kalamazoo scholarships, so it all has to be paid out-of-pocket, such as the Denmark program, which requires $35,000 upfront.

For example, according to  Deutsche Bank, Australia and Japan are the  most expensive places in the world, and also very popular study abroad locations. This survey also ranks America as the cheapest.

The number of students choosing to study abroad has been declining, and it’s about time that the school started helping students keep busy while on campus for a third year by providing resources to find research opportunities or internships, instead of focusing on what they are missing out on.

If Kalamazoo College truly does want us to earn “More in Four,” the administration should better support those of us who choose stay on campus for all Four.