Campus Chronicles: The Coin Toss To Decide Where She'll Be in the Spring
Published: Sunday, September 16, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
If you asked me in middle school, I would have told you I didn’t know what you meant. If you asked me in high school, I would have told you I wanted to wait until college to decide. If you asked me during my first year as an undergrad, I would have said absolutely because everyone else is doing it and it seems like fun.
Now that I’m a junior at Boston College, when someone asks me, "Are you going abroad?" I finally have an answer.
As it is with most things in life, making the decision to go abroad is nowhere near as easy as advertised. Yes, the videos they show at Orientation that feature smiling BC undergrads just like you exploring the history and nightlife of Europe may fill you with an immediate need to catch the next plane out of Boston. Yes, stalking the colorful and cultural Facebook albums of your friend in Barcelona may make you indescribably jealous of her worldly adventures. The thing that no one presents in a slideshow or posts a status about, however, is how comfortable it is to simply stay at BC.
By the time you make it to junior year, you finally start to feel like you know what’s up. You’ve mapped out the best tailgates on Shea, you’ve decorated your off-campus apartment to perfection and graduated from a Twin XL to a Full bed, you’ve mastered the science of avoiding lines at Hillside, and you’re closer with your friends than ever before. Sounds like the perfect time to up and move to London for four months, right?
The harsh reality of studying abroad at BC includes everything they leave out during your first meeting at the Hovey House. Not everyone is going. Not everyone will encourage you to go. You will miss out on a full semester of memories at BC. It’s not easy.
And so begins the debate. Some days it seems so abstract: Why would you uproot your life from a place where you are already so happy? Some days it seems so clear: When else would you get the chance to live in an exciting new place with the purpose of an education and with the comfort of knowing you can return home when it’s over?
The latter is an unanswerable question. Everyone stereotypes college as the time to try things out, but for a good reason. BC offers students so much flexibility with campus-life entities, like the different academic courses, living styles, and extracurricular activities. The opportunity to study abroad is merely an extreme and extended version of that same flexibility.
From the rolling hills of Cork to the southern shores of Cape Town to the bustling city of Tokyo, BC’s extensive list of internal programs is sure to spark students’ interest. Not impressed? BC features an entire list of approved external programs through similar institutions, such as Boston University and Fairfield University, allowing more specialized programs in more unique locations.
For students like me who need a more tangible feel for each program, BC hosts the annual Study Abroad Fair each fall. The whole arena fills with international excitement. Tables upon tables line the floor of Conte Forum, stacked high with colorful fliers and free paraphernalia. Representatives from the programs and exchange students native to that program who are currently studying at BC manage the tables, answering questions and providing advice. What better way to get a taste of Australia than chatting with two rugby-clad locals about a typical day in beachside Queensland?
Like most students, I returned from the Fair whirling with excitement about places like France and Italy, but that initial buzz faded in a few days when I woke up from my foreign fantasy and snuggled back into my life at BC, leaving me with nothing but a pile of fliers.
It wasn’t until I started clicking around on the Florence University of the Arts course listings that I thought about studying abroad again. Fashion Marketing. Food, Culture, and Society in Italy. Global Perspectives of Journalism. These are not your typical Jesuit-taught classes. I couldn’t help but wonder what else Florence had to offer besides interesting academics. Yet once again, my wandering thoughts about going abroad were dampened by the sounds of my friends expressing their loss of interest in leaving BC.
All in all, the hardest part is making the decision to go. Some students strongly surge forward in the adventure abroad. Others come across a range of reasons to remain in Chestnut Hill. For me, the months of mental debating, plethora of phone calls, and lengthy "Pro vs. Con" list came down to the simple flip of a quarter. Heads: go to Florence. Tails: stay at BC. As the quarter twisted in circles on the floor of the Chocolate Bar, my stomach twisted in knots. Finally, it dropped: heads.