Soar into experiential learning with study abroad

Program encourages students to take advantage of a chance to  experience another culture, despite financial costs

The beginning of spring at Loras signifies many things. For some, it brings much needed warmer temperatures. For others, spring brings new internships and classes. For the Center for Experiential Learning, spring signifies the start of planning for next year’s study abroad programs.

In their recent update about 2019 January Term courses, the CEL office announced it is accepting applications for a wide variety of travel courses in January. The priority deadline for these applications is Sunday, April 15. Travel courses for the upcoming year include trips to the Czech Republic, Costa Rica, Italy, England, Haiti, and Argentina, with a few trips to locations inside the U.S. A large part of the support for these opportunities comes from the Loras administration, that works closely with the CEL office.

“Thanks to a strong administration, we are in a better position to create and define a schedule for the courses we offer over January Term,” study abroad coordinator Abbie Behrens said. “We’re hoping to offer a good number of travel courses every year in the years to come.”

Traveling abroad for January Term is something many students look forward to, since it isn’t a long commitment compared to a semester. The Lorian conducted a survey of the student body to gauge opinions about various kinds of study abroad programs. Of the students surveyed, 21 percent have traveled abroad through a January Term course. Each student in that 21 percent said they would recommend studying abroad to their peers. They credited the ease of fitting it into their schedule as a main reason why they chose to go.

In addition to the convenience of exploring the world a few weeks at a time, there are academic reasons to study abroad in the January Term. Students have the option to earn advanced general education course credit through courses that stay at Loras and courses that travel to other countries. Of the eight travel course options for 2019, five are advanced general education courses. Campus-based courses can also have the same classification.

“At any level, experiential learning is embedded in each January Term course,” Behrens emphasized. “J-Term classes give students a chance to explore what they are studying outside of the classroom, whether that be in a lab for a science course, or a day excursion to Chicago.”

Half of all students surveyed said traveling abroad can be expensive, and are concerned about  associated costs. Behrens doesn’t want students to be discouraged from applying to a J-Term course because of the fee.

“The deposit is the only amount of money that is due up front when a student applies,” Behrens explained. “From there, the rest of the fees for J-Term are spread out over spring semester billing.”

Besides January Term courses, students can choose to study abroad for a semester. Loras offers a fall semester program in Argentina, and spring semester programs in Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Applications for Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 are closing soon, but Behrens and the CEL will start promoting in the fall for Fall 2019 and Spring 2020.

Registration for general travel courses and campus-based J-Terms will take place during the fall of the next academic year. For more information about study abroad opportunities for J-Term or semester, email Abbie at Abigail.Behrens@loras.edu.

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