Daily Archives: September 24, 2011

To Study Abroad, or to Not Study Abroad?

There are a few rather important, pivotal decisions that all undergraduates must make at some point in their college career.  Among them:

  • Your major
  • Your housing
  • Your on-campus job (if you feel the need for one)
  • Whether to say “bless you” when the stranger studying next to you in the library sneezes. (I still haven’t found a conclusive answer to this situation, but I always go the friendly route and say it.)

Another important one: whether or not to study abroad. Ever since a young age, I’ve been fascinated with foreign travel…and have thought about doing it in college. I’ve had cousins and friends study abroad all over–including London, China, and on a boat (through the Semester at Sea program)–and they’ve all had very positive experiences.

I like to think that I’m almost fluent in French, and my 3 years of high school Chinese have definitely put me at basic conversational level. I’d love an opportunity to gain fluency in either of these languages, or get better acclimated with their cultures. As well, I think Previewit’d be awesome to spend a semester studying economics at Oxford or Cambridge (pictured at right)and pick up a British accent along the way. But do I really want to spend a semester outside of the United States? Plus, the way I understand it…the College of Arts and Sciences requires that I must take the same exact classes that native speakers in the country take–even though I have the language barrier problem. So basically, if I went to France and wanted to fulfill my major requirements, I’d have to take econ classes in French.

In trying to make this huge decision, I’ve assembled a list of pros and cons.


  • Moving to a new environment for a semester would be exciting
  • Immersion in a country with a different language would help me gain fluency
  • It’s supposedly a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience that people love
  • Studying in a warmer environment might let me miss one Ithaca winter


  • Acclimating to a different country with languages and culture barriers–where I don’t know anyone–might prove to be stressful
  • I always look forward to coming home and seeing friends and family every break that comes around; going away full semester might make me miss ’em too much
  • Things “still go on” back at Cornell–I’d miss developing friendships, awesome events that came to campus, etc.
  • Being away for a semester from Cornell = no Collegetown Bagels, no Trillium Dining, etc…suffice it to say that the food would be very different
  • Advanced economics classes at Cornell = challenging enough. Advanced economics classes in French? Ehh, that could be a lot of work…

One “happy medium” that I’ve been thinking about is the Cornell in Washington program. The university apparently owns a building in the heart of D.C., where some faculty work full-time and students are hosted year round, in semester-long increments and over the summer. Cornell in WashingtonLiving in a different city for a semester would give me the “out-of-Ithaca” experience that’d be thrilling, yet it wouldn’t be too hard to come home if I needed to. I feel like it might be the perfect balance for me; plus, as a probable economics major, a lot of the courses offered in the program certainly pique my interest.

So this leaves the essential question: WHAT SHOULD I DO?!

In other news, I’ve been getting a lot of hell for my previous post, in which I complained that my walk from West Campus to the Vet School was 30-40 minutes. Take a look at what the famed alumni blog MetaEzra said:


Well, sir, I will have you know that I timed it from beginning to end…and it took about 30 minutes. Granted, I’m not a speedwalker, nor am I an Olympic athlete. But I also appreciated how a commenter, in jest, linked me to a site with tips for walking faster. From now on, I will try walking to Morrison by doing tip #1: “tightening my abs and buttocks,” and #4: “bending my arms in slightly less than a 90 degree angle.”

With this knowledge, I’ll get to Morrison at the speed of light.