Having a study away experience is not only at the core of Trinity’s mission but is an exciting way for students to continue learning, growing and adding to their personal and professional portfolios. For those interested in exploring all the available options, the Office of Study Away (OSA) is their hub.
Each person in our office has lived and traveled abroad and has extensive experience in the field of study away. We take a holistic approach to study away advising by getting to know each student we meet with so that we can best recommend programs that will benefit the whole person – academically, personally, and emotionally.
Navigating the processes and deadlines for studying away can be a lot so we ask that each student come into our office to meet with an advisor. Students interested in studying away are matched with a study away advisor who works closely with them through the process of choosing the best program for their personal and academic needs, navigating the various deadlines and application pieces, and helping to set expectations for their upcoming experience. Once students are on their study away program, their study away advisor is always available to them, as well as when they return to campus, providing any assistance they need in adjusting to life in their study away location, as well as back home at the end of their adventure.
Most students planning to study away say that one of their goals is to become more independent and for many, studying away is the first time they have been responsible for themselves. With that independence comes excitement and increased confidence but also a lot of frustration along the way. The first two weeks of any program is usually filled with a lot of excitement and energy as they explore their new surroundings. But after that honeymoon period wears off, they must start building a new life and routine in a foreign place and culture and sometimes in another language. It is hard and they will have many good and bad days plus homesickness. It’s hard. The good news is that they get through it, they have a semester of growth and come home more mature, independent and resourceful people.
Your support and involvement in their journey are vital, and one of the best things you can do for your student is to empower them to be responsible for their study away experience by managing as much of the deadlines and processes as possible by themselves. This is a time for tremendous personal growth, and we are looking forward to working together with your student on their study away plans.
First and foremost, studying away is a rigorous academic endeavor and is not a break. Students should be prepared to work hard. In many respects, studying away can be more challenging academically because of different academic cultures. In many countries, students are expected to be more responsible and self-driven and able to work independently without as many checks and balances as they may be accustomed to at their home institution. For example, in many countries , students should expect to have only a few tests during the semester and upwards of 70% of their final grade based on their final exam or project.
Studying away can also be a challenge because there are many more distractions. While we fully recognize that a significant part of the study away experience is travelling and exploring, it is still an academic endeavor so students must manage their time constructively. For this reason, Trinity students interested in studying are required to have at least a 2.5 GPA in order to be approved to study away, regardless of the GPA requirements of any program(s) they are interested on.
In preparation for their study away experience, all Trinity students must meet with their academic advisor to get approval for the courses they plan to take while away, as well as to plan out their remaining semesters at Trinity to ensure that they will stay on track with their general education and major requirements for graduation.
One of the most practical and immediate benefits of studying abroad is language acquisition. Encourage your student to consider programs that provide an opportunity to study another language, especially in an immersive or semi-immersive manner. In addition to the cultural insights that your students will gain, language skills are becoming an increasingly important differentiator among hiring managers. Even if your student is not proficient, a solid working knowledge of another language indicates an openness to – and an appreciation for – other cultures which is a critical 21st century skill. And if your student has not studied a language before, encourage them to start learning!
Behavioral conduct and expectations:
While students are on their study away program, they are responsible for knowing and adhering to all rules and policies of their program, the host university and their host country, in addition to upholding Trinity’s standards of good conduct which can be found in the Trinity College Student Handbook.
Most study away students say their time away changed them for life. How widespread and deep those changes are will vary for each person based on their experience and what type of a person they are. Returning home after such a transformative experience can be bittersweet. They are, of course, so excited to be back with family and friends and all things familiar, but they may miss the adventure and excitement of daily life on their program. It is helpful to understand this wide range of emotions and feelings that your student may be experiencing. Your student has changed, and some of these changes will be obvious and others more subtle. Be patient and take time to get reacquainted, acknowledging that you may not be able to help your student adjust. It is just part of the process that will continue to evolve for years to come.