Studying abroad at Dartmouth: Oh, the places you'll go!

by Lauren Budd | 8/11/16 10:00pm

At Dartmouth, the flexibility of the D-Plan allows for students to take advantage of language study abroad programs (LSAs), foreign study programs (FSPs) and any variety of internships and programs ’round the girdled earth. In this article, we take a look at just a few of the opportunities Dartmouth students have taken advantage of over the past few years. This sampling is by no means exhaustive, as over 55 percent of students choose to study abroad on the over 80 total programs spanning six continents.

Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Meredith Nissenbaum ’17 spent her junior spring on the Spanish FSP. While there, she experienced first-hand the repercussions of Argentina’s change in government. “A few friends and I went to the main plaza in Buenos Aires where a large celebration is held to celebrate Argentina’s revolution, and were instead met by police in riot gear and protests against the new president.” Morgan Finegan ’17 participated in the LSA in Buenos Aires and said that she “never thought [she] would get used to the dog poop that covers the entire city” and returned to the United States “grateful for all the privileges we have in the United States that [she] had previously taken for granted.” Carly Kuperschmid ’16, who participated in the Buenos Aires FSP during the spring 2014 term, said that living in a different country increased her understanding of global politics and finance.

Washington, D.C. Annie Huang ’18 participated in the government department’s domestic study program in D.C., taking two seminar classes during the evenings and doing an internship during the day. Huang said the program was especially interesting as an international student (she hails from New Zealand) because she hadn’t yet been out of Hanover in the United States. She said she was surprised by how “European” the architecture was. Jake Greenberg ’17 also participated in the program and emphasized the unique opportunities that Dartmouth provided. For example, the group was invited to attend the D.C. Club of Dartmouth’s Webster Dinner honoring Eric Manning. Manning was confirmed as Secretary of the Army the night before, so the group heard his first speech as Secretary.

Milan, Italy. Sarah Guinee ’17 participated in the economics department’s exchange program with Bucconi University during her junior fall. Unlike LSAs and FSPs, this program does not send any Dartmouth professors along with students, so Guinee said she was “entirely independent” in navigating the country. Guinee said she ended up living with two other students she had only been friendly with before, but whom she now considers her closest friends. “That speaks to something cool about going abroad at Dartmouth and the D-Plan as a whole — you never know where you’re going to be and with whom, but it allows for a lot of unexpected and fulfilling friendships.”

Rome, Italy. Alyssa Jorgensen ’17 spent her junior fall on the Italian LSA in Rome, where she lived with a host family whom she came to love. “My wonderful and sassy Italian host mother, Nica, never cooked a meal I didn’t love. I find myself craving her nervetti, pasta e fagioli and company pretty often.” Jorgensen said the transformation from tourist to local was the most rewarding aspect of the trip. “By the end of the trip, Rome slowly but surely became my home. I had my own favorite bars and favorite coffee shops. I knew how to get around through my own mental map of psycho-geography. I had adapted to the cultural norms and the innuendos of social cues that only people who have lived there know by heart.” She described the city as “archaic and romantic and immortal” and said she had “profound experiences with both the incredible marble monuments and the mundane cobblestone street corners.”

Lyam Torrens ’18 participated in the same LSA during her sophomore winter and said that she made Italian friends and even found a significant other while abroad. “I got life-long friends out of the trip, networking connections, great and fun stories to tell my friends and family, enough gifts for my closest family to last a lifetime, bomb-ass Instagram pictures and memories about visiting the major cities of Italy.” Torrens said that though LSAs prohibit participants from leaving the country, this was hardly an issue as she visited Naples, Milan, Venice, Florence, Bologna and Siena during her term. She said she is currently in the process of finding and organizing off-term opportunities in Italy using the connections she made during her trip. Zach Schnell ’18, who participated in the Rome LSA+ during his sophomore spring, said that though he is a computer science major, he is so eager to return to Italy that he is seeking employment opportunities in his field there. “In the meantime, my friends from the program and I enjoy speaking Italian here and pretentiously mocking American coffee.”

Hyderabad, India. Alyssa Heinze ’18 spent her sophomore winter on the Asian and Middle Eastern studies and women’s, gender and sexuality studies FSP. The program only had seven other participants, and all were women, but Heinze said that the group had such a “diversity of individual experiences that coming together to hear different perspectives really broadened my thinking in a lot of ways.” Heinze said her time abroad was essential for gaining perspective beyond the Dartmouth bubble. “It’s easy to get stuck in the daily worries and anxieties in the Hanover bubble. Experiencing such a different part of the world, and seeing the way it functions on a daily basis and the real concerns...makes you realize how small Hanover really is and the broad range of realities out there,” Heinze said.

Cusco, Peru. Sarah Salzman ’18 traveled to Peru for an experiential learning class in economics about inclusive growth in Peru. This proved to be a challenge in communications, as she conducted interviews with local farmers despite being unable to speak Spanish and many of the native people only able to speak Quechua, the local language.

Auckland, New Zealand. Salzman also spent her sophomore winter on the anthropology FSP in Auckland, noting that she gained a new understanding of indigenous peoples and the immense impact of colonization. She said her professor would often say that the program taught students “how to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange.”

Sydney, Australia. Julia Reiley ’17 participated in a public relations and marketing internship in Sydney during an off-term and said that she chose to synthesize her experience going abroad and participating in an internship because she thought it was important to have a really solid internship on her resume after spending her sophomore summer on campus. “I think traveling teaches students and young adults so much more economically, culturally and independently than they could ever understand,” she said.

Paris, France. Eliana Mallory ’18 participated in the French FSP during her sophomore spring. A few weeks into the program, she said she would get off the metro at various stops and attempt to navigate her way home. This contributed to a sense of understanding and ownership of the city that, as a geography major, she said was the most rewarding aspect of studying abroad.

Prague, Czech Republic. The unique cultural and social life of Eastern Europe made Rosey Oppenheim ’18’s daily learning experience feel profoundly different and impactful. She emphasized that despite feeling like she learned a great deal while abroad, she didn’t feel particularly overwhelmed, as opposed to the markedly more stressful environment at Dartmouth.

Santander, Spain. Cindy Li ’18 said that her LSA+ not only improved her language skills, but provided valuable interactions with people she met in hostels while traveling through Spain.

Beijing, China. Some of the most valuable connections on the Chinese FSP were made outside of the group of Dartmouth participants, said Will Tackett ’18. Local teaching assistants and graduate students made the program more interesting and educational and may have helped his language skills more than time spent solely in the classroom.

Will Tackett ’18 is a member of The Dartmouth Staff.