Programs, Passports, and Preparation: Ready to Study Abroad?

Of the myriad of “experiences” integral to the college experience, a study abroad is one of the foremost among them. Last Tuesday, October 6 saw this year’s first Off-Campus and Study Abroad Fair held over lunch. Ringer dining room was host to numerous booths representing a small part of the off-campus study opportunities that Cornell College offers its students.

Cultural Experiences Abroad, the American Institute for Foreign Study, Associated Colleges of the Midwest, Central College Abroad, Northern Ireland and South Korea Exchanges and the Council for International Education Exchange were among the programs represented at the Fair, in large part by students that have participated in their programs. Among the most popular of affiliated International Study programs is ACM, a consortium formed by local Midwestern schools, supported by professors who served as resident program experts on each college Campus.

Abyssinia Moges (18) discusses the ACM programs with Grayce McGregor (16) and ACM representative Mariah Wika
Source: Isabel Stone

“Definitely seek it out, because you won’t regret studying abroad. It’s been the most memorable experience of my life, and I’ve only heard the same thing from everyone else I talk to about study abroad,” said Grayce McGregor ‘16, ACM Jordan student representative and Fall 2014 program participant. McGregor is studying International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies, and her trip to Jordan two years ago allowed her to further her interest and knowledge about the country.

Likewise, Alyssa Selmer, a Cornell Spanish professor, had her own life changing experience studying abroad. She is the campus ACM representative for Costa Rica, a program she actually attended during her time at Lawrence University, which inspired her to continue her studies in Spanish and become a professor.  

However, it is not always so easy for students to decide where they would like to study. The Office of  International and Off-Campus Studies, headed by Stephanie Nomura, exists to assist students with the process of deciding and applying.

“We actually do a lot, more than most colleges,” Nomura said of the study abroad programs at Cornell, referring in large part to the college’s ability to offer block courses both in country and abroad. Cornell offers numerous courses in Chicago, where one of the three off-campus block classes are currently studying (the second is in Italy, and the last in India).

Last year alone, 93 students participated in classes taught by Cornell professors off-campus in the US, while 176 attended block-long classes overseas. Eight students took summer courses abroad, and 13 spent a semester studying in six different foreign countries. These numbers do not include the various internships, fellowships, and volunteering that Cornell students also do abroad.

Nearly every student wanting to participate in foreign study will go through the International and Off-Campus Studies Program office at some point; it’s part of the application process. The first step, is the off-campus webpage on the Cornell website. Nomura suggests that students start their research into what kind of program and experience they’re interested in. If the process becomes overwhelming due to the sheer number of possibilities, the office has a book wherein affiliated programs are sorted by the students discipline.

Sam Martinez (16), Thao Luu (16) and Taylor Gutierrez (17) look at brochures
Source: Isabel Stone

The next step is to make an appointment with Nomura; she can help students narrow down their options and assist them in the application process – though she also recommends seeing the Writing Studio about the essay portion of the application.

Financial aid is also important during this process; the Office of Financial Planning and Assistance states that the finances are unique to each student, and arranging an appointment with a staff member is a crucial part of being able to participate in off-campus studies. The most important date to remember throughout all of this is the first Monday in December, the date when applications for the next year are due to Cornell for consideration, especially concerning financial aid.

“If they decide next year they want to study abroad, they shouldn’t not contact me,” said Nomura. In other words, she is here as a resource to students who want to study abroad, whether they think they can manage it or not. While the  options may be slightly more limited or expensive, studying abroad would not be impossible. Likewise with unaffiliated programs; should a student find an opportunity with a program not affiliated with Cornell they are encouraged to apply, though a few extra steps – including checking with the Registrar about transfer of credit – may need to be taken.

For more information go to the International & Off-Campus Studies page on Cornell’s website, or check out their Facebook page, Cornell College International & Off-Campus Studies, where you will find pictures of students adventures abroad.


“Nobody ever regrets studying off campus. The only people who have regrets are those that don’t.”

  • Mariah Wika, ACM Campus Outreach Coordinator


Isabel Stone, Staff Writer