University study abroad programs return

Juliette Gaggini, News Co-Editor

This Fall 2021, the University opened back up its study abroad programs to students after three semesters of cancellations due to the COVID pandemic. The University has a center to help students navigate their options for studying abroad called the Global and Off-Campus Education (OGOE) center. Advisors in this center help students find the perfect abroad program, whether that be a “Bucknell In” program, or a different program or school that the University could potentially partner with, allowing students to take advantage of more opportunities than just those offered by the school.   

Emma O’Shea ’23 is currently enjoying a semester abroad through the IFSA program at St. Andrews in Scotland. O’Shea is a biomedical engineering major enjoying her time abroad and taking advantage of the many opportunities offered to her through her program and the school. 

Looking back at her time applying to study abroad, O’Shea recalls the stress of figuring out what she wanted to do and where she wanted to go. “It’s really overwhelming before you have the initial meeting with the school because of all the programs and classes and options. I couldn’t find out how to navigate it, but once I had the first meeting it was super easy,” O’Shea said.

O’Shea is enjoying the program she ended up doing, and has met many awesome people in the span of just a few weeks. “I really like the people in my program and it’s really interesting because I get to kind of redo freshman year and get thrown in with a bunch of people that I don’t already know and remake friends,” O’Shea said. 

“So far I have traveled around Scotland and the weather here is pretty cold so I’ve been trying to do a lot of travelling before it gets too cold. I have one plan in the future to travel outside the UK but I have been pretty limited because of COVID so I don’t want to travel outside the UK too much. I am going to Vienna and Copenhagen soon which is really exciting!” O’Shea said, reflecting on the awesome travel opportunities she has while abroad. 

While travelling is always a key component of a semester abroad for an immersive and memorable experience, O’Shea pointed out the importance of choosing interesting and different classes than ones she would take in a regular semester at the University, and how the learning experience is different based on where you go. “It’s a big adjustment because in the UK school is very on your own so I have only a couple hours a week that I see a professor and the rest of the work is on my own, but I really like it. I also really like being able to take classes that are not in my major. I’m taking a lot of literature and Greek mythology classes that I wouldn’t get to take at Bucknell,” O’Shea said. 

On top of her classes and making new friends in a foreign country, O’Shea has also taken advantage of a number of clubs at St. Andrews, including a surfing club, clay pigeon shooting club, a hill walking society (hiking) and the Caledonian society which teaches students Scottish reeling (dancing) in preparation for the balls that are held on campus.  

For many, a perk of studying abroad seems to be the awesome photos you get to share with your friends back home while you are away. O’Shea pointed out that while her experience has been great thus far, going abroad is not always as easy as it seems and there are difficulties related to moving to any new country in terms of getting integrated with the culture. “I would say it’s been more of an adjustment than most people make it out to be and it’s not always that you feel perfectly integrated in a new culture immediately. It definitely takes time but once I gave it that time it became amazing, but when I initially got here I wasn’t prepared for that so I was a little overwhelmed by that,” O’Shea said.

O’Shea was excited about the remainder of her time abroad, but also expressed gratitude to the University community that she will come home to for the spring semester. “It’s really cool to be away from Bucknell and at a new school adjusting to day to day life, but I do miss the fall traditions at school and I’m really excited to come back in the spring. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so I really am excited to come back and see everyone even more so than I would be if I wasn’t abroad this semester. It also makes me appreciate a lot about Bucknell that I didn’t even realize I appreciated. At Bucknell, our professor relationships are so much better, it’s a lot more comfortable like seeing people I know in the library or around town and sunsets on the quad. It definitely makes me appreciate the little town of Lewisburg more than when I left,” O’Shea said. 

Jennifer Ellis Fritz, the Associate Director of the Office of Global and Off-campus Education, was mindful of upcoming challenges to upcoming abroad programs. “Even though our numbers are fairly normal for the spring 2022 term, we do believe the fact that U.S. citizens not being able to travel to certain countries (Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China) may have contributed to fewer applications since places like Australia do tend to be a relatively popular destination for students,” Fritz said.

“Despite all of this we are fairly confident Spring 2022 will be an option for most of those who have applied. We were able to send students abroad in the fall 2021 semester,” Fritz said.

Though the partnering study abroad programs are great, the “Bucknell In” programs are getting started again and many students are excited about the upcoming opportunity to travel with their classmates, such as Juliya Harnood ’24. A computer science and French double major, Harnood is looking forward to her upcoming spring semester abroad in Tours with the Bucknell in France program. “Being able to go to France in a big University town with Bucknell students and professors is a really nice community aspect that the school takes abroad,” Harnood said.

“I have been planning to do this trip since I got accepted to the University and it’s one of the main reasons why I came here because I learned about the program when I visited,” Harnood said.

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