Making the world their classroom

Reflections from students who have studied in Vietnam, Greece, India, Denmark, Chile, Kenya, China, Washington, D.C., and France.

Each semester, hundreds of Gettysburg College students take their studies off-campus – studying abroad in places as near as Washington, D.C., as far as India and everywhere in between. Students that study abroad have amazing experiences both in and out of the classroom, and often describe the experience as one of the most influential aspects of their academic career.

Some 57% of the graduating Class of 2012 studied off-campus for a semester or longer, ranking Gettysburg College eighth in the nation for liberal arts colleges according to the Institute of International Education.

Several students sent in photos and reflections on their time abroad. Find out more about Off-Campus Studies.



Mekong Delta

Alyssa Bosold '13 – majoring in Globalization Studies and Environmental Studies, minoring in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Studied in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Favorite Class:

Independent Study Project on wood as fuel in rural Vietnam. Speaking with the women in the hamlet opened my eyes to the complexities involved with fuel use and cooking. This January, I am planning to return to Vietnam to learn more about the issue and to conduct research that I hope will provide more insight on alternative and renewable fuel options.

The photo:
Taken in the Mekong Delta on a boat ride through a protected mangrove forest. We learned about mangrove ecology and observed wildlife, including hundreds of nesting egrets.

Reflection on the experience:
Overall, I feel that my time in Vietnam helped me to grow as a person. Before leaving, and even immediately after I returned home, I didn't quite understand what everyone was talking about when they said "going abroad will change your life." However, reflecting on the experience has made me realize what a true impact my time in Vietnam has made on my decisions, values and perspective on the world.


On the starting Line

Linnea Goebel '13 - majoring in Globalization Studies
Studied in Athens, Greece
Favorite Class:
Citizen, State, and Society: a Service Learning Approach

The photo:
On our visit to Olympia we learned about Ancient Greek athletics. In this photograph my classmates are on the starting line ready to run a race as it would have been done in the original Olympic Games.

Reflection on the experience:
Through one of my classes I had an internship with an anti-trafficking organization, Nea Zoi which means "New Life" in Modern Greek. While other students were busy marveling at the Parthenon, I was able to interact with girls going through one of the greatest injustices imaginable. I met girls my age who were sold into prostitution against their will and had no idea how to get out. We gave them a safe-house, information about their legal rights, counseling, and language classes so they could read the Greek laws describing their rights and options. In talking about this problem with Greek citizens, I also learned about the mind set that Greeks have today toward foreigners. On our historical excursions I learned about ancient Greece and was able to understand how their history has helped influence their current political, economic, and social mentality. For me, Greece was not just columns and Olympic stadiums, it was a chance to fully understand how a modern society is never truly separated from it's past.


Happy Valley Tea Garden in the Darjeeling

Colleen Cable '13 - majoring in English with a Writing Concentration
Studied in Jairpur, India
Favorite Class:
Independent Study Project in the tea gardens.

The photo:
Taken in Darjeeling, India. I did a month-long study on the tea gardens and the tea workers in Darjeeling, India. Nearly everyone who lives in Darjeeling either works in the gardens or is related to someone who works in the gardens. The tea pickers need only pick the top two leaves off of every branch because they will produce the highest quality tea, something Darjeeling is known for the world over. Even in the monsoon season, the tea workers are out picking leaves from 7 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Reflection on the experience:
My time in India was a whirlwind of an experience. My conception of the world is radically different from the one I had when I left. I have found through studying abroad in India that poverty, family, and education are not necessarily as I thought they were. Being back in Gettysburg is great, but strange. India made me constantly question who I was and what I was doing. Being comfortable again and being secure in my sense of place again is a very uncanny experience. It's like I've been here before, but somehow it's all changed.


Dog sledding in Denmark

Jessica Lee '13 - majoring in Environmental Studies
Studied in Copenhagen, Denmark
Favorite Class:
Climate Change in a Historical Perspective. We studied ice ages and climate changes of the past in order to understand future implications of climate change. We had the unique opportunity to visit the Center for Ice and Climate at the University of Copenhagen, a world-renowned polar research center, where our professors worked as ice core scientists.

The photo:
Taken while dog sledding in Greenland. We were given sealskin outfits to keep warm and to fully experience the traditional mode of transportation. The dogs were arranged in a fan formation to distribute their weight across the frozen lakes as well as to travel faster in open lands. Our guides taught us the basics of dog sledding as well as the ecological, glacial, and social aspects of this unique country.

Reflection on the experience:
The entire study abroad experience was absolutely fantastic! While in Denmark, I lived with a host family who were the kindest and most inclusive family. They will always be a part of my life. We shared our culture, food, stories, and lives. I couldn't think of a better way to immerse myself in the Danish culture than by living with a host family.

The academic opportunities were also a huge part of my life in Denmark. The Danish Institute for Study Abroad focuses on hands-on learning with many field trips and study tours related to our course work. With my Sustainability in Europe class, we traveled to Sweden, Germany, and many companies and locations near Copenhagen. Having the opportunity to visit and study Greenland was the highlight of my semester abroad!



Rorie C. Lentz '14 - majoring in Psychology, minoring in Spanish
Studied in Chile
Favorite Class:

The photo: "Balance"
A Mapuche (an indigenous tribe of Chile) woman harvesting her potatoes. The Mapuche believe that everything is a part of everything, and that we are all connected. If we treat nature fairly, we will be treated fairly in return. In this photo, I tried to capture that balance and her connection with the earth.

Reflection on experience:
My experience abroad was something I will forever carry with me. Chile has a special place in my heart, and I am proud of how it helped me grow. I learned so much about Chilean culture, but more importantly about myself. I loved studying abroad so much, that I am going abroad again next semester!



Lauren Trotter '13 - majoring in Health Sciences
Studied in Nairobi, Kenya
Favorite Class:

The photo:
Taken during spring break to Tanzania. I spent three days with a Maasai tribe, a group indigenous to Kenya and Tanzania. In the photo, we are making traditional Maasai jewelry from multicolored beads. This woman and I exchanged bracelets, a sign of honor and friendship.

Reflection on the experience:
Studying abroad in Kenya was the most exhilarating experience of my life because it really took me out of my element. I witnessed things that people living in our country could never fathom. It removed everything materialistic from my life and every ounce of control I had on my surroundings, and in doing so, I experienced true fear, the natural good of mankind, and the beauty in just living simply.


Bullet train

Michael James Boyland '13 - majoring in Organization and Management Studies, minoring in Economics and East Asian Studies (Specialization in China)
Studied in Beijing, China
Favorite Class:
Chinese Language Class. I took 2.5 hours of Chinese language every day. I had taken two years of Chinese prior to going abroad, but spending that much time in a language class was intimidating to me. After two weeks of taking the class, I feel in love with the language. My teacher was absolutely fantastic. We took field trips around Beijing, did projects in the community and learned a great deal. It was amazing to see my language skills improve so quickly while obtaining a greater understanding of the Chinese culture.

The photo:
On a bullet train traveling at 310 km/h (200 mph).

Reflection on the experience:
Studying abroad has been without a doubt the most rewarding experience of my time in college. Traveling to China took me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to learn so much not only about myself but also about the culture and language I was studying. I was able to meet some great people and make some amazing long lasting friendships. I learned about a different culture and was able to obtain a greater respect for differences among people.

Washington, D.C.

Air Force One

Abdur Rehman '13 - majoring in Mathematical Economics
Studied in Washington, D.C. with the Lutheran College Washington Semester
Favorite Class:
Business and Public Policy. We looked at how the lobbying industry has blocked regulation against tobacco, big oil companies and Wall Street.

The photo:
A small group of students were given the opportunity to see President Obama entering Marine One.



Suzy Englot '13 - majoring in Environmental Studies and Public Policy
Studied in Paris, France
Favorite Class:
French and European Policy

The photo: "Regarde le ciel"
My friends and I were walking on a side street one day early on in the semester when we were first exploring Paris. I think it encapsulates what you should strive to do when you are abroad: take the road less traveled, enjoy what is around you, and always look up at the sky.

Reflection on the experience: Studying abroad was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, filled with so many unforgettable moments. I learned a lot about myself, grew to be a stronger and more independent individual, and made lasting friendships that I never could have made otherwise.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Posted: Sun, 11 Nov 2012

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